Alyssa J Freitas

November 14, 2018

Minimalist iPhone Organization

I really enjoy knowing how other people organize things. Whether it's their calendars, or laptops, or closets, I am immediately interested in how people get things arranged. I've watched a few videos on YouTube recently about what people have on their iPhone and it inspired me to share how I've had my phone laid out recently. I wrote about this in 2014 and 2015, so it's high time for an update.
Click to read now or pin for later! Here's some inspiration to get your phone cleaned up like a minimalist. Time to get organized
I keep my apps on two pages, with folders for organization. I also like to have a pretty plain background so the apps will stand out clearly. While I do switch out my lock screen background frequently, I've been coming back to this marble background for a few years now for my home screen.

Dock

My three most used apps are messages, phone (duh), and calendar, so I keep those three on the dock.

Page 1

On the first page I keep Spotify, Gmail (for personal and freelance communications), Photos, Settings, Clock, Chrome, Weather, Mail (for work communication), Trello (my list making and task organization app for work and personal life), and Evernote (work and personal notes). 

I also have a folder for all of my transportation apps including NJTransit, a subway map, my bus schedule, Waze and Google maps, Uber, Via, and Lyft. 

This is the most paired down I have had my first page in recent memory. It's an attempt to keep my off my phone and to hide the more fun social apps from myself on page two. I've yet to figure out if this will work, but I'm giving it a try.

Page 2

Here come all the folders. My first folder has all of my work apps. Most I do not use on a regular basis, but have to be on the phone since it's a company device. I do use Slack a ton and really like ScanBizCards. ScanBizCards allows me to keep all of the business cards I receive digitally instead of in physical stacks. 

The next folder is my "extras" that come on the phone from Apple, but that I don't use on a regular basis. I threw my Hamilton app in there where I enter for free tickets every day because I wasn't quite sure where else to put it. 

After that we have my travel folder with airline apps for my boarding passes and hotel apps because I have become the type of person that shows up to a new place and books the hotel when I arrive. So spontaneous. 

Next we have money with my banking and investing apps. I also threw in CVS and Target because I use the apps to get discounts. 

The following folder has photo and social apps. Like I mentioned before, this is a new experiment to see if hiding the apps makes a difference in my usage level. I'll have to report back on the usefulness of this tactic. 

Life360 is an app that lets my family know where I am, MoviePass is a disaster but I already paid for up until March, so there it stays, Podcasts is self explanatory, and then we have Kindle and Goodreads for all of my reading needs

There it is! A minimalistic approach to phone organization, keeping just the essentials (and a few extras for fun).

How do you organize your phone? Are you a folder fan? 

-AJF
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November 7, 2018

4-Step End Of Week Routine

This past Friday I was co-working with my friend Sheetal and before we headed out for the weekend, I told her I had to do my end of week routine. I showed her the steps I take to organize my outstanding tasks, inbox, and files, and how I clear my mind for the weekend. Though to be honest, most Saturday mornings I still end up working, but it's usually on a few key items and I already know what has to get done Friday at close of business so I can enjoy my Friday night.

She suggested I do a blog post about my Friday wrap up and I was like "perfect, now I don't have to brainstorm Saturday morning," so thank you, Sheetal!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here is a 4 step routine to help you wrap up the week and clear your mind for the weekend
There are three key steps I go through at the end of each Friday to ensure that I'm set up for the weekend and can pick up right where I left off on Monday.

Step One: Notes

I keep notes in a notebook and digitally with a program called Evernote. I try to type up my handwritten notes after client meetings (I don't like to type when I am face to face with others) so I have searchable records. On Friday I'll flip through my notebook to find any notes I took that haven't made it to Evernote yet and make sure that everything is recorded digitally. It makes it so much easier later, when I've finished the notebook or can't find an exact page, to have it all synced on my phone an computer.

Step Two: Emails

I've written about email minimalism and taking back your inbox, but both of those posts are from before I had a full time job. I'm due to write an updated email organization post, but for now those posts are a good starting point to understand how I approach my inbox. 

Throughout the week I do my best to file my emails into the appropriate folders and respond to messages in a timely fashion (24 hours is the max I usually allow myself). That way, by the time Friday roles around it's just like doing my normal end of day review of outstanding emails. I'll mark off emails that I want to respond to on Saturday morning and then I make note of the actions I need to take from any of the emails sitting in my inbox. Which brings us to the next step...

Step Three: Updating To-Do Lists

I've yet to blog about Trello, the program I started using at the beginning of September to keep track of tasks and projects. I wanted to make sure it was a method I really liked, and can do an in-depth post about how I use Trello in the future. For now, I'll give you the quick overview, in context of my end of week routine. 

Below is an example of what a Trello board looks like. I blacked out my notes because they mention my clients, but you can see that I have five main lists: To Do, Doing, Done, Kudos/Wins/You're Doing Just Fine, and Personal To Dos.

It's pretty self explanatory. On the first three lists I keep track of where I am on work tasks. Each item can be opened up and you can add more detail to what needs to be accomplished, like check lists and notes. The fourth list is where I put small and large wins of what I've achieved throughout the week, and the last list is where I keep track of my personal to dos.

At the end of the week I make a copy of the board, change up the background, and reshuffle the tasks to the appropriate list for the next week. I also add any other tasks from my email clean up. I take the wins from the week and move them to a separate "wins" board, which is sort of like a work journal/place for me to keep my accomplishments to see how I'm progressing.

Step Four: File Cleanup

A little while back I wrote about how I organize my laptop to keep all of my files and applications in check. I have found that it is essential for me to go through my downloads folder and desktop to organize my files at the end of every week. I am able to determine what I need to keep and my goal is to have a clear desktop and downloads folder each Friday.

There you have it, my four-step end of week routine! Going through these steps helps me reflect on the week I had, clear my mind for the weekend, and set me up for a successful week ahead.

Do you have an end of week routine? Is there any step that you find super helpful?


-AJF

October 31, 2018

What Sales Has Taught Me About Relationships

As you probably know by now, I love sales. I love helping businesses identify and address challenges. I love interacting with people and understanding their motivations. I love that I have many different functions, from presenting to reporting to running assessments, that keeps me learning.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Sales is an awesome career that will teach you lessons for your professional and personal life alike. Here are some key ways sales can teach you to improve your relationships
There is so much you can learn from a career in sales, but one of the most important areas of personal development for me has been in my relationships. Here are some of the key attributes I’ve learned from sales that can help you enhance your relationships.

Listening 

If you only take one thing away from this post, make sure it’s this point. We all know it’s important to listen to other people, but since starting my career in sales I am listening at a whole other level. When you’re talking to a client you eliminate all distractions, you not only listen to their words but also take in their body language, and you listen without judgement. I think about what they’re saying versus what they may mean and ask questions. So. Many. Questions. To fully understand I need to ask follow up questions and summarize and find out if I’ve gotten an accurate picture of what they are saying to me.

We hear all of the time that listening is a key element to having a successful relationship, and the better listener you can be, the better you’ll understand others. Every time you remember something someone said and can relate back to it later or ask the perfect follow up question they will feel cared for and it will deepen your relationship.

Focusing on the other person 

It’s best practice in sales to get a full understanding of the challenges your client is facing and how they are thinking about addressing it before launching into what you can provide. I will admit this is hard to do! However, by focusing on the other person you can ultimately tailor your message and have greater success.

In personal relationships the more you learn about someone else and show your genuine interest in them, the more they will like being around you and reciprocate that interest. Sometimes I feel like I’m interviewing my friends and new people I meet, so try not to just run through questions. Rather, learn about them and relate where appropriate to make it a true conversation.

Following up 

It feels like half of my job is being persistent and following up. When you are invested in having a relationship with someone it requires effort. From texts to check in, to consistently making the time to talk, you have to understand that work and life will get busy, but with mutual effort you can foster deep relationships. I wrote about staying in touch with friends after college and this level of effort is exactly what is required in any relationship.

These are only three of the lessons I have learned (and continue to work on) from sales that have made me more present and a better daughter/friend/girlfriend. Hopefully you can integrate these lessons in your relationships and reap the benefits of sales skills.

What have you learned from your career that applies to your personal life?


-AJF

October 23, 2018

Back In Time: Lotteries

History time!!! So you know how everyone is going crazy with the big lottery drawing scheduled for tonight (the reason for this post being a day early)? It got me thinking about how lotteries started and how the game has evolved over the years.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! With the frenzy over the lottery this week, I'm sharing the history of the lottery in the US
As you know, I love American Colonial/Revolutionary history. While lotteries began in China before the birth of Christ, I was more interested in learning about the evolution of the lottery in the US, and I was not disappointed.

Lotteries were chiefly used to raise money for a variety of ventures, rather than for a private citizen to make it rich. A lottery run by the Virginia Company of London in 1612 helped raise money to settle the colonists in Jamestown, Virginia. Many early universities (Princeton, Yale, University of Pennsylvania) used lotteries to fund the construction of buildings in the 18th century.

Founding Fathers

George Washington attempted to sponsor a lottery in 1767 to build a road leading to a resort. Fun, right? Unfortunately Washington's plan didn't pan out because there were too many other lotteries going on at the time...and the king banned lotteries that year. The lottery did eventually go ahead (once legal again) without Washington's help. But then people weren't into it because 85% would go to the winner with the remainder being kept for the project - apparently 15% was too much, but imagine how they would feel today with the amount that gets taken out in taxes alone?

Earlier in 1747, Ben Franklin used a lottery to raise money to buy cannons to protect Philadelphia. With his printing press producing pamphlets and his promotion of the game, the Philadelphians came as near to selling out in seven weeks as the New England lotteries did in seven months.

Oh, but let's not forget about good old Thomas Jefferson (I have complicated feelings about him, but here's another reason why he is far from my favorite). Jefferson had the grand idea of using a lottery to pay off his debts. In the year of his death he petitioned the Virginia State Legislature for permission to run a lottery for the aforementioned purpose, writing that "Far from being immoral, they [lotteries] are indispensable to the existence of man." Really, Tom? His heirs were able to hold the lottery after his death, but it was unsuccessful to tackle his mountain of debt.

Even Alexander Hamilton was in on the scheme. As you may remember, the Americans were pretty upset about the whole taxes thing, so even if they were represented in their own country it still was not widely accepted that taxes should be used to pay for public projects - so they used lotteries instead. As Hamilton put it "Everybody ... will be willing to hazard a trifling sum for the chance of considerable gain ... and would prefer a small chance of winning a great deal to a great chance of winning little."

Scandal

Things did get quite out of hand in the 1800s in Louisiana. From the founder of the Louisiana Lottery getting a 25 year charter to be the only gambling outlet in the state (by paying off the state, naturally), to paying more "reputable" men to host the drawings (former Confederate generals), to the company keeping the unsold tickets and actually winning the prize, Louisiana inspired other states to stop lotteries all together.

But get this, the whole thing started when Charles T. Howard was sent to Louisiana from Kentucky with $50,000 from a company he was supposed to get a lottery charter on behalf of. Well, once he paid off the legislature and got the charter, he got local partners instead and abandoned the original company that gave him the money.

Now that old Charlie was a good corrupt and influential man in Louisiana, he wanted to become part of the Metairie Jockey Club, but was denied membership. He got the last laugh when he bought the race course years later, turned it into a cemetery, and then was buried in the center. That'll show 'em.

Litigation

Ok, last one (this post is ending up far longer than I expected). A lottery brought up the issue of federal courts reviewing decisions made in state courts in 1821. When the federal government created the National Lottery, Virginia had already passed a law to prevent the sale of out of state lottery tickets. A highly regarded lottery company in Virginia sold tickets to the National Lottery and was charged by local authorities with breaking the only-Virgina-lottery-tickets law. The brothers who owned the company sued and the issue made its way to the Supreme Court. Ultimately the Supreme Court said that federal courts could review decisions made by state courts on federal law, and Cohens v Virginia went into the history books.

There you have it, a select history of lotteries in the United States. From founding father fails, to double-crossing men, to Supreme Court rulings, lotteries have played a major role in American development. Best of luck to everyone who is playing!

-AJF
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October 17, 2018

Thoughts On Motivation

This hasn't happened in a while. It's currently 8:30pm on Tuesday and I am just now sitting down to write this post. There isn't a good reason why I didn't write this weekend like normal. I suppose if I had to pin down a reason it would be a lack of creative inspiration. I've been cooped up in the house because of a foot injury and haven't had my usual time in the city, doing activities to get the creative juices flowing.

So, I decided to turn to the ultimate place of inspiration: Pinterest. After browsing some pretty images and looking at pins with post ideas, I began to wonder how I stay motivated to keep writing week after week. Sometimes I have a ton to write about and other times I'm forcing myself through the motions. But I've yet to miss a posting day and somehow keep myself chugging out content.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here are some ways I've been thinking about motivation recently
Usual forms of motivation are monetary (nope, not selling anything here) or social/recognition (not a lot of reader comments and interaction goes on), yet somehow, here we are with a post scheduled for 5am, just like every week. This is what I've realized about motivation and how we can keep ourselves working at something for the long haul.

Commit

And get yourself on a schedule! No matter what you want to do, you have to set aside dedicated time (and mini-deadlines) to do that thing. You will always find time for what you prioritize, so if you commit to something, you can make it happen. 

Have a record

Have you seen habit trackers in bullet journals? Where you fill in a little square each day you engage in a habit? Keeping track and having a record gives you pride and self-motivation to keep working towards what you want. I realize that not everything can be measured exactly, but if you can get creative and figure out a way to see your progress, it'll do wonders to keep you going.

See the long term value

I love blogging because it challenges me to come up with new ideas, to refine the way I express myself, and it's a great way to look back at my personal growth. Each post I create adds to my story and development. When you have something you want to engage in for the long haul, see how it makes you happy now, but also how it brings you pride and value in the long term. And keep reminding yourself of that!

When I first started blogging 4 years ago I didn't imagine I would keep it up this long. I've never really thought about when I will stop blogging. I most likely won't keep doing this my entire life (there's going to be too many technological changes for this to be relevant forever), so it's certainly something I want to enjoy and be committed to for as long as possible. 

How do you stay motivated with blogging or any other activities? How do you optimize the conditions to keep you committed?

-AJF