Alyssa J Freitas

January 23, 2019

Back In Time: Time Zones

We're always saying that we need more time. That the only thing we all have the same amount of is time. With all the talk about time, I really never thought much about the measurement of this elusive resource. For this month's back in time post, we're going back in time to the measurement of time itself.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Have you ever wondered how we started to measure time? And how people deal with living in one time zone and working in another? The answers are all in this back in time post!

Getting our act together

For a while (like, a really long while), people were running around without all being on the same page of what time it was. This didn't cause too much issue, mostly because people weren't traveling too far, until business was at stake. And you know that when business is at stake, the business people do what they need to to get things done. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was established to aid in naval navigation, and was popularized in the first half of the 1800s when it was used by the British railways. If they wanted people to be able to take their trains and to transport goods efficiently, everyone needed to know when the heck to be there. By 1880, Britain legally made GMT the standard.
In America, it took us a little longer to get things right. While the railroads were still the ones leading the show, they couldn't agree on which time zone to use. Each railroad ran on a different time, depending on its headquarters or where its most important stations were. Train stations would have multiple different clocks with different times for each railroad company that serviced the station. Finally, in 1883 the US decided on standard time zones, and had "the day of two noons" when the clocks were reset at standard noon time. The US made it official in 1918 with an act of congress. So we've really only had our time zones established for the last 100 years.

A founding father, because there's always one involved

Another wrinkle to our story is the idea of daylight savings time. Since it seems like every back in time post I write has to include a revolutionary figure, say hello to Ben Franklin.
When Franklin was in France, getting up to all kinds of mischief, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris in 1784. He explains that he and some friends were hanging out and talking about oil lamps, and they began to discuss if there was any real savings from using oil lamps since they required a lot of oil and didn't provide much light. He tells the editor, "I was pleased to see this general concern for economy, for I love economy exceedingly." A man after my own heart.

He goes on to say that he made an amazing, undisputed discovery when he was accidentally awoken at 6am. When the sun rises it gives off light - imagine! Franklin does a few calculations and realizes that there could be a great savings if the people of Paris would just get up with the rising of the sun instead of staying awake into the night and using candles and oil lamps. He thinks that once this has been explained everyone will jump on board, and those who don't should be taxed for keeping their shutters closed.

He proposes guards to keep people from buying so many candles and shooting cannons in the streets when the sun rises to wake everyone up. And for his great discovery and suggestions, he asks nothing in return. He only wants the acknowledgement that he is the one to have realized that when the sun rises it gives off light. It must have been he who discovered it, he argues, because there is no way the economical people of Paris would have slept through the morning if they knew they could have saved their candles by getting up earlier.

So what's my point in telling you this story? Well, you'll hear people say that Ben Franklin proposed daylight savings time and I wanted you to be well informed that is not the case. He made some great jokes about saving energy, but as you can see, this is far from a true scientific assertion that we should change our clocks. In actuality, it was first proposed in 1907 to try and save coal during the war. 

Time zones today

Have you seen this scene from The West Wing? It's the perfect illustration that although we have been so good as to come up with time zones and to institute daylight savings time, there can still be confusion. 

From reading stories of others who live in one time zone and work or go to school in another (or even just have appointments in another zone), it can be super challenging and there's not really much of a good way to get around it. Quite a lot of people will refer to one zone as "fast time" and the other as "slow time" to distinguish. They'll keep a clock on the wall that's in "home time" and their watch in "work time." Moral of the story? Be glad if you don't live in that situation, and know you're pretty cool if you do.

Have you ever had trouble switching between time zones? What else would you like to learn about from my back in time posts?

-AJF
Follow

January 16, 2019

Ultimate Minimalist Email Organization

There are so many different theories on email organization. Should we be shooting for inbox zero? Should we use our inbox as a to-do list? Tags? Folders? The options go on and on. Today I want to share with you how I keep my inbox under control and give you some ideas for how to approach what is arguably the most important digital space in our professional lives.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here's the ultimate guide to getting your inbox under control like a minimalist

Accounts, accounts, accounts

First thing first. How many email accounts are you currently dealing with? Hopefully not many! I would suggest that you do whatever you can to reduce and consolidate your accounts. For example, I have my work email, personal email, and freelancing email. Two of those are through Gmail where I use the one inbox feature on my phone, and the other is through IBM.

Be in charge of what comes into your inbox

There is nothing worse than wasting your time going through mountains of subscription emails from stores and restaurants and all manner of businesses. There is a great tool called unroll.me that helps you to view all of your current subscriptions, unsubscribe from those you no longer want, and "roll up" all of the subscriptions you do want to see into one daily email. I cannot recommend this service enough.

Email as a to-do list?

In a previous post I talked about my end of week routine. I explained that I use Trello as my to-do list manager and therefore, I try to avoid letting emails sit in my inbox as a reminder. I will star a few items throughout the day if I need to gather more information before responding or talk to someone else first. My thought process goes something like this:

  • Can I respond now? If so, reply immediately
  • Is this detailing a new task I need to take care of and doesn't require a response? If so, put it in Trello and file the email
  • Does this just not require a response? If so, file it
  • Will I be able to respond today with more information? If so, star it and leave it in the inbox

Folders

I mentioned that I "file" emails. I am a folder girl. I love to have folders and subfolders because it makes it easier for me to find emails quickly when I need to refer to them. I will say that if my email that I use for work had a better search function I wouldn't be as inclined to use so many folders. For my work I have a folder for each client, an administrative folder, a catch all folder, and a few other categories that are relevant and helpful.

Daily/weekly email goals

I make it a rule to respond to all client emails within 24 hours and all internal emails in no more than 48 hours. At the end of the week, I don't want to have to scroll more than 2-3 times to see all of the emails in my inbox. 

By keeping on top of my emails in this way I find that I am less likely to let anything fall through the cracks and can manage my communication professionally. 

While I would love to be an inbox zero person, that's not something I have found to be feasible. Are you able to do that?! Would love to hear what your best email tips and tricks are.

Side note: I know I detailed my blogging schedule and said that week three of each month would be a "back in time" post. January has five Wednesdays, so a back in time post will be coming your way next week, followed by a monthly recap post on the last Wednesday.

-AJF

January 9, 2019

Favorite Board Games

My family and I have always loved board games. When I say "my family," that really means my grandparents, mother, and brother. The only game my father will play is poker and that is serious business. Today I wanted to share a game I have been loving recently and playing every weekend with Joe, and classic games that my family pulls out again and again.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here is a list of my favorite board games to inspire you to add to your collection

Forbidden Island

This is the game of the moment for me. What I love about it is that you work as a team, so you all win or you all lose. With sinking pieces, treasure to collect, and an ever rising water level, this is a fun game for two people or a group to play. Check it out here

Rummikub

An absolute classic in the Freitas household. Although it's a tile game with numbers, there's no math required (which is great for a girl who's terrible at mental math) and it's all about how you strategically get rid of the tiles in your hand. Check it out here

Clue

This is one of my favorite games, but it's sometimes hard to find three people willing to play. I like to think it's because I always win, but it's more likely because it can take a long time. Check it out here

Pente

This is a cut throat game where you have to decide if you're going to help out the team or continually put the brunt of the work on your fellow players. This is one of the more contentious games we play and can only stand a few rounds at a time. Check it out here.

Labryinth 

This is a game you can play solo or with a group. Again like Forbidden Island you have to collect treasure, but this time you're in an ever changing maze that requires you to visualize how all of the pieces can move to help you meet your objective. Check it out here

What are your favorite board games? Any recommendations are much appreciated!

-AJF

January 2, 2019

Interview Etiquette

A while back I asked on Instagram what etiquette topics you all were curious about, and interviews came up. Back in 2013 (as a senior in high school) I wrote a post on interview etiquette, and needless to say I have learned a lot more since then. While the basics certainly still hold true, today I'd like to give you some tactics to make the most of the interview opportunity.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here are the top tips you need to know to have the proper etiquette before, during, and after an interview

Before the interview

Appearance: Modest is best, regardless of what style you're going for. Try to get a feel through your research of what the dress code of the office is, and always err on the side of caution. Minimize any potential distractions; for yourself it may be jewelry you'll play with, and for the interviewer it could be hair covering your face.

What to bring: Updated copies of your resume, a notebook and pen, personal business cards, a phone on silent.

What questions to prepare for: You want to have answers ready for the basic questions, such as "why are you a good fit for this job," "what's your greatest strength and weakness," as well as being prepared to articulate why you are interested in this company and why you have chosen this particular career. 

You should also prepare some questions to ask the interviewer, such as the company's approach to training and development, how they progressed to their current role, etc. 

*Bonus, since we're getting off of the etiquette topic* Unless you're interviewing for a highly technical role, it's likely that you'll be asked behavioral questions; the type that start with "tell me about a time when..." and then you're prompted to tell a story about how you handled a particular experience in the past. I like to think of some overarching topics that I'll probably be asked about, like dealing with challenging clients, asking for the sale/closing business, and prospecting for new accounts, and then I have some relevant stories for each category. The STAR method is particularly helpful. 

Situation: what is the brief background of the situation you were facing
Task: what were you expected to accomplish
Action: what action did you take to accomplish your task in the situation you were in
Result: how did that work out for you

During the interview

Attitude: Be kind to everyone you interact with and demonstrate confidence with positive body language and a smile. A firm handshake and pleasant expression goes a long way.

Absolutely avoid speaking badly about your previous employer and make sure everything you share, even if it was a bad situation, has a learning experience to have made you a better potential employee.

What to avoid: Wait to ask about salary until you're far enough in the interview process to have created demand for your skills and talents and feel you've established your worth. This will allow you to be in the best position to negotiate as needed. 

Make sure you're allowing your interviewer to get across their whole point and questions without interrupting. It can be tempting to jump in when you have an answer to what they're asking, but don't risk stepping on their toes during the conversation. 

What to make sure you do: The question that really inspired this post was about how to know when to follow up after an interview. The best thing you can do during the interview is to ask what the expected timeline is on making an ultimate decision and the steps leading up to that point (how many more interviews? With who? Any presentations or other formats you'll need to prepare for?). By asking what the next step is and when you can expect to hear back, you'll know when to follow up. Be sure to get everyone's contact information that you interview with. Also, you can decide if you want to ask this one question I highly recommend

After the interview

Thank you note: Be sure to send a thank you note, whether via email or by mailing a note that same day. Reference something you discussed during the interview, reiterate your interest in the position, and let them know you are looking forward to hearing back on the timeline you discussed.

For example, if they said they were planning to conduct second round interviews next week and would get back to candidates by this Friday, you can say you're looking forward to hearing back by the end of the week. This allows you follow up on Friday if you haven't heard anything and then midway through the next week if they still haven't gotten back to you.

Those are my top etiquette tips for having a successful interview. I have another post on informational interviews here, and an entire section dedicated to career here.  

What tips do you have for a great interview? 

-AJF
Follow

December 26, 2018

Goal Setting For 2019

For the past three years I've written a post about setting goals for the new year. In 2016 I encouraged you to set principles, not resolutions. The principles I outlined in that post ended up sticking and have become lifelong instead of year long. So then in 2017 I decided a mantra for the year would be the way to go. I added my principles in (and reading goal, of course) and was set. Then for 2018 we were on to making qualitative instead of quantitative resolutions.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Now that 2019 is nearly upon us, it's time to set some goals and get ready for the new year. Check out this post to help you figure out what to focus on
And now for 2019...I'm sort of at a loss. As each year goes by I realize that there are less and less "unique" ways to go after your goals and it mostly comes back to basics: working hard, staying consistent, and doing the best you can on any given day. That said, let's talk through how to identify what you want to work hard at and be consistent with. 

Yearly recap

I wrote about this in another one of my resolution posts and think it's pretty darn good, so I'm going to repeat it here. In order to figure out what you want to improve on, you need to reflect on the past year. Here are some questions to help get you started:
  1. When was I most proud of myself this past year?
  2. What is a moment I wish I could relive so I could respond in a different way? 
  3. When did I feel most excited and alive?
  4. When did I feel most frustrated and stuck?
Based on your answers to these questions you can start to brainstorm what you may want to do more and less of in 2019. 

For me, I know I was most proud of myself when I ran successful, useful client calls at work. When I was able to quickly determine what my clients needed and get the right resources I felt proud and happy with my work. 

There are quite a few moments I wish I could relive, and most of them are when I reacted to a situation instead of responding after taking a moment to really figure out if the situation was a big deal or not.

I definitely felt most excited and alive when I was on stage or on the water. The stage was literally just being called on in a theme park show (small and unplanned, but so much fun) and the water was when I was in a crew race and when I visited San Diego and took a boat ride. 

I felt most frustrated and stuck when I was having difficulty getting engaged with the right clients and people at work. Whether it was an internal challenge or mapping out how to grow and progress in my role, I found the unknown particularly difficult. 

Figure out what to do more of and less of

It's clear that I get a lot of satisfaction from leading the charge. At work that means when I can understand and find solutions to client problems, and in my downtime/personal time it means I need to seek out activities where I can present and be a leader. With work, I can continue to take on more responsibility as I'll be doing in 2019, and in my personal life I am challenging myself to sign up for at least one class this year (acting, exercise/dancing, who knows what else, but I'll find something).

On the flip side, I need focus on putting things in perspective and ensuring that I am not reacting to a situation that ultimately isn't a big deal. The unknown can get most of us thrown off, but realizing that there are few situations that can't be worked through (and remembering that fact in the moment) can help to reduce these feelings of frustration.

As I mentioned before, there's little I can tell you that I haven't already said before with going after your goals (you can check out some more posts here, here and here) and figuring out what those should be in the first place. With this two step reminder you can reset for 2019 and continue to refine the way you are achieving your dreams.

What are your goals for 2019? How do you like to determine what to focus on?


-AJF
Follow