Alyssa J Freitas

April 25, 2018

How To Stay Close With Friends Post-Grad

Next month will mark one year since I graduated college. Excuse me, but WHAT?! First of all, I find that nearly impossible to believe, second of all, so much has changed. I knew that a lot would be different (that's why my mantra for 2017 was "growth comes from discomfort." I wanted to prepare myself), but what I didn't fully anticipate was how much my friendships would change.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Staying in touch with friends after graduation is a challenge, but here are some ways you can prioritize your friendships
They say that once you graduate it's much harder to see your friends. I thought I had a solution to that: "well, we all live in New Jersey, how hard can it be?" Perks of going to a state college, right? Despite our relative geographic proximity, it has been incredibly difficult to see my friends on what I would consider a regular basis. 

So, how do you deal with conflicting schedules and competing priorities and the general challenge of remaining close when you're not living right next door? Here are the saving graces I've found one year out.

FaceTime...FaceTime, FaceTime, FaceTime

FaceTime is a life saver! Sometimes it really is just too hard to get together in person and quick texts don't do the trick. That's when a FaceTime date saves the day. Although a spontaneous call is nice, you're usually better off scheduling it ahead of time so you don't end up playing phone tag.

Set goals

A few months after graduating, you and your friends will have a pretty good idea of how often is reasonable to expect to see each other in person. Of course there will be ebbs and flows in availability, but you'll have a baseline. From there you can set goals of how often you'll see each other and actually put it on the calendar. Sometimes you won't be able to meet the goals, but having something to work towards gives you a better shot than thinking "hey, wonder how long it's been since I saw *insert name of friend here*."

Give yourself grace

A lot of times when I pick the topic of a blog post, it usually indicates something I'm working on myself. Although I would love to see all of my friends frequently, the reality is that it's a challenge and it will continue to change as time goes on. Figuring out how to spend your time (at work, on side projects, with family, with your significant other, with friends, and throwing in some alone time too) is tough, but by giving yourself grace to do your best, you'll be able to stay close to those you love and not wear yourself too thin either.

How do prioritize seeing friends after college? I would love any advice you have!

AJF

April 18, 2018

A Minimalist Takes Her Own Advice & Deletes Facebook

On Sunday I *deactivated my Facebook account.

Although you might think I jumped on the #deletefacebook bandwagon, it was actually spurred by my recent lack of inspiration and the time I was wasting. At the start of the year I wrote about how I had intentions of "unplugging" and was working towards being ok with deleting profiles that didn't serve me. I'm not considering getting rid of Instagram or Pinterest or Twitter because I do get some value from each, but I have been on the fence about Facebook.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Have you considered deleting Facebook or taking a break from social media? Here's my experience and the extra push you may need to simplify your social presence and embrace minimalism
Whenever I have an idea for a post, I go to my blog and type in the topic in the search bar to see if I've written about it before. I've been blogging for about 4 years now, so it's nearly impossible to remember everything I've said. While most of my opinions have remained consistent, it is interesting to see how my thoughts may have changed over time.

When I looked up this topic, I found a post from 2014 simply titled "Social Media." I wrote about how I was a Facebook virgin and how I was trying to figure out Twitter. I said I was not a supporter of widespread social media usage. At the time, I didn't use social media for my blog (still barely do) and was more interested in seeing people in person and reading to entertain myself.

I think back to my middle and high school days when I would sit for hours with a book and it wasn't uncommon for me to start and finish one in a single weekend (granted, the books I've been reading recently are 700+ pages, but I'm definitely not spending as much time reading). I miss that and I only really have myself to blame for the shift.

Instead, I find myself "catching up" on my social feeds. Even though I am a social media minimalist and don't follow many people on each platform, I'm still spending time consuming media that isn't doing a whole lot for me. The place where I really felt like I was wasting my time was Facebook. I'd done multiple friend purges, but I would still scroll through my feed and not be inspired or uplifted or informed.

My main Facebook usage was for blogging groups, but the conversation was generally around getting more Instagram followers and sponsorships...not sure if you've noticed, but that's not much of a focus for me. Facebook is a great place for connecting with others, especially if you are looking to grow your blog into a business, but for me, I would leave the site asking myself "what did I learn that was applicable to me?" and too often the answer was nothing.

Facebook has done a great job of making itself a utility (Ben Thompson has an awesome post on this topic) and certainly had me feeling like I'd be lost if I didn't have a profile. How would I sign up for other services? How would I know what my friends were up to? How would I know the latest tactics bloggers would be using to get more followers?

But when it comes down to it, simplifying my social presence and leaving Facebook instantly made me feel lighter and will be one less distraction. Plus, if comparison is a challenge for you or social media is a vehicle for validation, it's not a bad idea to leave. Ask yourself what value you get from each platform and if the answer is "not much," consider taking a break or deleting altogether.

Have you deleted or considered deleting any of your profiles? Do you feel stuck with certain platforms? I'd love to hear about your experiences!


-AJF
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*Note: I said "deactivate" not "delete" because I still use Facebook messenger to keep in touch with certain people 

April 11, 2018

How To Organize Your Life On A Calendar

I thought I did a lot in college. I thought my calendar was full and that I was balancing a ton. And yes, I was definitely involved and had a lot to keep track of, but I've now realized that was the easy stuff. Working full time, blogging and taking on other writing projects, seeing my family, keeping in touch with friends, and being in a relationship have brought my calendar to another level. And I'm sure when someday I'm blogging about being an executive and raising kids and traveling the world (hey, a girl can dream), I'll look back at this post and laugh.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here's how to organize your entire life on a calendar, from work to social life to your side projects.
It's taken me some time to figure out a new method of organizing my calendar, but I finally feel like I'm in a good groove. Here are my top tips for keeping track of your calendar and tasks when there's so much going on.

Types of calendars

At first, I started out with too many calendars. I had one for work and social events and appointments and blogging and more..., until I realized I need to simplify and integrate my life more. Now I've narrowed it down to work, a shared calendar with Joe, and birthdays/holidays. I use my work calendar for everything from actual work calls/meetings, to doctor's appointments, to social events (that don't include Joe haha). I like having one, holistic view and I separate out non-work entries by putting an emoji at the front.

Note: I am a big proponent of having digital v. paper calendars (although I do admit that sometimes paper will win out). Always having my calendar with me on my phone, being able to easily share and change events, and my terrible handwriting all contribute to my opinion. If paper is your jam, then you can color code in place of where I described my different "calendars."

What goes on the calendars 

Nearly everything! I have recently taken to scheduling time for certain projects because if I don't the time ends up getting filled with other calls or priorities without me realizing it until it's the end of the day and I wonder how I never got to that one task. Putting everything on your calendar also gives you a good view of where you are spending your time. Too many work events and not enough catching up with friends? Your calendar will show it. It can take a while to get a good feel for how much you actually want to track, but I would start off with more rather than less and then you can scale back as needed. 

Tracking tasks

As you may remember, I am a big fan of tracking my tasks in Wunderlist (I've been using it since 2014!). However, I got a great organization tip from my friend Lauren at work. She recommended creating a calendar reminder at 5am and listing out your tasks for the day and crossing them off as the day progresses. At the end of the day you can copy what didn't get done and move it to the next day. It's also great for setting a future task; you can immediately put it in your calendar and rest assured you won't forget. I still use Wunderlist for all of my personal tasks and reminders, and for blogging and other writing projects, but work is kept separate.

I wish I could have shared screen shots, but most of my calendar has the names of clients and specific projects, so I'd rather keep that to myself ;)

How do you organize your calendar(s)? Would you like to see a post on how to prioritize your time at work/socially/side projects/all of the above?

-AJF

April 4, 2018

4 Tips To Maximize Your Time At A Conference

A few weeks ago, I went to Las Vegas for the first time. That's right, I was in Sin City. But...I was there for a work conference so I don't think I need to abide by the "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" rule. Over on my LinkedIn I shared a full recap of my experience at IBM's THINK 2018 (check out the tale of bright lights, engaging discussions, and well, thinking here).

While it was a whirlwind at my first industry conference, I did come away with some tips on how to maximize your time (and sanity) at a busy conference.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Heading to a conference and want to make the most of it? Here are 4 of my top tips for maximizing this opportunity

Packing

Recently, I shared a video on how to pack for a week in Italy in a backpack. Many of the same principles apply for a work trip as well. Using the same jacket with multiple outfits and sticking with a single pair of shoes allowed me to pack for 5 days in this duffle bag. I'm a proponent of using a carryon bag whenever you can, and this one fits under the seat. It's such a relief to know your bag can't be lost since it's always in your sight, and saves you time instead of waiting at baggage claim.

Scheduling

I was highly ambitious when planning my schedule for the week. This particular conference was massive, with tons of sessions happening simultaneously, plus a lot to see throughout the day that was unscheduled. At first I thought it would be a good idea to have every moment scheduled; that would mean I was making the most of the conference, right? Ummm not quite. 

After the first day I learned that having a list of sessions you'd like to attend, booths you want to visit, and space in between allows you to be more flexible and open to meeting other people and embracing the unplanned experiences.

Networking

Speaking of meeting people, I was surprisingly quiet on day one. For some reason (probably the overwhelm of the nearly impossible schedule I originally set), I didn't really talk to many people. However, once I allowed for more flexibility and made it a goal to talk to at least one person in each session, I found myself having a much better time and learning more.

Even if there were other available seats, I would choose to sit next to someone. When I was on line for food, I would strike up a conversation with the person next to me. It's as simple as asking them what they think about the conference so far. You have a ton in common just by being at the same event, so take advantage of it!

Play and Rest

Not only were the days filled with events, the night had it's fair share of entertainment too. While evening activities are definitely a good place to network and connect personally, they're also sure to tire you out. It's a good idea to know your limits and make sure you're prepared to get up early the next day. Pick a number of hours you need to be in your room before you have to be up the next day and make sure you keep to your word to yourself.

What advice do you have for attending conferences? Have you found any tactics particularly helpful for making the most of your time?


-AJF

March 28, 2018

Italy Solo Female Itinerary: Rome, Venice, Trieste

Here we go, my full Italy Itinerary post is here! I've already posted about how I packed for this trip in a backpack and what solo female travel in Italy taught me. Now it's time for the practical tips of where to visit and what to see.

ROME

Day 1:
On the first day I arrived at the Rome Fiumicino airport in the early afternoon. I took the Leonardo Express train to the city and then hopped on a bus to get to my Airbnb in the city center. It was the absolute perfect location and price (I paid $200 for 3 nights), plus the hosts were so sweet and I felt secure. If you're going to Rome, I would highly recommend staying here. If you use this link you can get $40 off your first Airbnb stay!
I spent the afternoon and evening wandering the perfectly charming streets and going in and out of every church I saw. I got dinner at Mimi e Coco, which was delicious and affordable, and had gelato at Frigidarium.

Day 2:
Bright and early I took a photography class to hit up some of the main sights of Rome: Trevi Fountain, Temple of Hadrian, Pantheon, Piazza Novona, and Castle Sant'Angelo Bridge. My apartment was within a 15 minute walk of all of these places. This was especially lucky because I overslept and missed the first location and had to dash to meet everyone at the second stop (that jet lag, I tell ya). Shout out to my new friend Hansel who went back to the Trevi Fountain with me to snap a picture :)
Photo Credit: @hansoulfood
Next, I headed to the Vatican Museum. I got a skip the line pass and spent hours wandering the incredible museum. My favorite room was filled with hand painted maps. Every gallery held significant work, and the ceilings were consistently breathtaking. Allocate a good 3-4 hours here if you are an art lover. 
Photo credit: @hansoulfoodhttps://www.instagram.com/hansoulfood/

Then I was off to Il Corallo for lunch/dinner (I was eating at strange times, the jet lag really got me). After that I took a short break at the apartment, then went to take in the views from the Spanish steps and eat some more gelato, naturally. Plus I went back to see the Trevi Fountain at night.



Day 3:
Colosseum day! As you may know, I am obsessed with history, and Rome is the perfect place to soak it all in. Before going to the Colosseum, I stopped at my favorite cafe near the Pantheon (I went 3 times!) and got the best chocolate croissant of my life. Seriously, go to La Casa Del Caffe Tazza D'oro.

I took an early morning tour to skip the lines and get access to the underground area. The tour also included the Forum and Palatine hill. It was a wonderful experience and I was glad to have someone to guide me through the most important spots.



I grabbed my first slice of pizza of the trip, then went back to the Vatican to go to St. Peter's Basilica since I didn't have time the day before. St. Peter's blew. me. away. I don't have many photos since I was too busy taking it all in. It was the highlight of my time in Rome.




TRIESTE

Day 4:
On day 4, I left Rome and made my way to Trieste. I took a flight then a bus to get to my friend Ally's apartment. It was a full travel day, so I didn't see much in Trieste. We had dinner and caught up before bed since we had to wake up early to go to Venice the next day!

VENICE

Day 5:
We took a train from Trieste to Venice. Ally had been to Venice before, so she was the perfect guide. We wandered and ate (Del Moro's is the best for "to go" pasta) and rode on a boat, so needless to say it was a successful day. For other Ally/Alyssa adventures, make sure to check out our trip to California here



We went to St. Mark's Square and checked out the church. The mosaics were phenomenal.



We also went to Libreria Acqua Alta, which is a charming bookstore with creative decorations. My photos don't capture it well, this is a must "see in person" sort of place.



After that, we took a boat to the island of Burano. The island is known for lace making and bright colored buildings. Hot chocolate was a must, since it was chilly!



TREISTE

Day 6:
Back to windy Trieste. Windy? you ask. Yes, incredibly windy. The people of Trieste refer to this winter wind as "the bora" and it will knock you off your feet. The bora made it hard for us to explore outside, but luckily we had a castle to see and history to learn :) 

Miramare Castle was built by Maximillian and has had a number of interesting occupants. I wish I had a better picture, but my fingers were frozen, so this is what we have haha Take a look at the Wikipedia page for more.
 

Day 7: 
Time to head home. I made my way back to the Trieste airport and went home through Rome. The day before Rome had its first snowfall in 6 years, so there were some delays to contend with, but I made it back safe and sound.

Would you like to travel to Italy? What cities would you like to see?

-AJF
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