Alyssa J Freitas

February 13, 2019

4 Things I've Learned In 24 Years

Honestly, I sort of forgot about this post until my friend Casey texted me. She wished me a happy birthday and said she was looking forward to the lessons post, so we can thank her for the reminder!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out the 4 things I've learned in 24 years
I went back and read my previous birthday lesson posts, and there are some really good takeaways there. From positive mental attitude, to realizing that life is a constant project, to worrying less, younger Alyssa certainly had a lot to share. Check out 20, 21, 22, and 23. It makes it sort of hard to come up with new, big lessons, but I was able to reflect and find 4 lessons to share with you this year.

1. Health is everything

Although people say this all the time, you never fully appreciate it until you are not healthy. Whether it's because of an injury or illness, whenever you don't feel like yourself it can be pretty impossible to have a positive attitude and enjoy what's happening in your life. What I've realized is that patience is paramount, you have to make the best out of whatever situation you're in if there's nothing else you can do about it, and appreciate what you are able to do each day.

2. You make your life interesting

Whenever I'm getting ready to do my year end recap I always worry that I won't have much to share. That's part of the reason that I've started to do my monthly recaps, because I want to document my life more. Having this practice makes me more mindful that there is so much I want to see and do, but the only person that's going to make it happen is me. And it's the same for you! In order to not be bored and boring, you have to be curious and actively seek out new experiences. You're in control of how interesting your life is and once you realize that and don't rely on others, you're empowered to go after the experiences you want to have. 

3. Travel with less and invest in good luggage

I published a post at the start of last year where I showed how I packed in only a backpack (and not even a true travel one!) for my trip to Italy. I borrowed the backpack from Nina, but have since purchased my own work/travel backpack that has made my life so much easier. I got the matching duffle bag from Vera Bradley and it makes having a carry on a breeze. They don't sell my exact duffle anymore (which is a shame because it really is perfect), but here's a similar one. This is my exact backpack

4. It's ok to have days of rest

I am a go go go person, and I love it. However, with increased travel for work, going back and forth between the city each weekend, and just generally being in a more intense role at work, I've found I need a day to rest. Whether that means just not making as many plans or even none at all, I've learned to accept that I am better when I have a "recovery" day. Don't get me wrong, I'll still open my laptop and do work for my job at IBM or my freelance work or blog, but I try to put less pressure on everything needing to be done or needing to socialize every day. And this has made my performance during the week more focused and productive. It's easy to equate your self worth with how much you produce, but I am trying to move more towards a mindset of balance and recognition that the choices I make today can set me up for a better week.

There you have it! 4 lessons I've learned in 24 years. It's so fun to be able to look back and see what was important to me and what revelations I made each year.

What have been your recent life lessons? Any of these resonate with you?

-AJF
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February 6, 2019

Valentine's Day Etiquette

It's the first week of the month, so you know what that means - etiquette time! With Valentine's day coming up next week, I thought it would be fun to talk about the etiquette of this lovely holiday. I wrote about this originally back in 2015 (you can check out the post here) and thought it would be the perfect time to bring it back.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! With Valentine's day coming up, now is the time to brush up on your etiquette and get ready for the big day

Be sensitive. 

For many, Valentine’s Day can potentially be a sore subject. Whether someone just went through a breakup, can’t find a date, or just isn’t a fan of the holiday, be aware of who you’re talking to. Don’t brag about the romantic evening your boyfriend planned for you and generally assume that less is more when it comes to sharing. Also, don’t be negative and go on about how Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark holiday designed to trap consumers into spending; this may be true, but it may simultaneously be true that your friend is excited to celebrate with her significant other and your comments aren’t appreciated.

Be thoughtful.

If you and your girlfriends are going to have a Galentine’s Day bring little treats for everyone, such as cards saying why you love having them as friends. Or, pay attention to what your boyfriend has been talking about lately and get him a gift that will show you care. Putting forth extra effort will be appreciated, but doesn’t need to drain your bank account.

Leave something to the imagination. 

Have decorum when it comes to getting dressed for the big night. As tempting as it is to pull out your sexiest dress and heels, remember that it is February and cold! You can always be more revealing in private.

Be prepared. 

When it comes to relationships we all know that communicating is important, so make sure to discuss your expectations of the day beforehand. Are you going extravagant or low key? Gifts or not? This will make it far less likely that you will end up disappointed.

Be realistic. 

Going along with being prepared with your expectations, you should also be realistic. If you’ve just started seeing someone it is unlikely that he will pull out all of the stops to make this the most romantic night of your life. Likewise, you should take care not to put pressure on the person you are spending the day with or make him feel badly if there isn’t a Noah and Allie moment.

Share the love! 

Valentine’s Day, for all its romance and hype, is a day for you to share love! Be appreciative of everyone in your life and make sure they know it.

Etiquette is all about consideration and regard for others; putting them at ease and having positive interactions is the name of the game. Striving to do that will ensure that you have a happy and love filled Valentine’s Day!

What are you doing to celebrate Valentine's Day? Hope it's filled with lots of love.

-AJF
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Check out more of my relationship posts here.

January 30, 2019

January 2019 Monthly Recap

So excited to share my first monthly recap! You may remember that at the end of last year I said I wanted to take more pictures in 2019 and part of motivating myself to do that is through monthly recap posts. So here we go, let's jump into January! *By the way, today is my birthday and I'll be celebrating with my girlfriends this weekend, so I'll have to throw that into my February recap.
 Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out what I've been up to this month. From fun times with girlfriend, to work events, to finally visiting One World Trade, 2019 is off to a great start!

Travel 

This month all of my travel was work related. I started off in Tampa, headed to DC, made my way to Miami, and am in Boston today. 

Friends

I was able to see a lot of my friends this month! I got to keep Nina company while she meal prepped, caught up with my friend Caiti who I hadn't seen in well over a year, went out for lunch with my work friend Jessie, had dinner with my college roommate Kajal, saw Ally while she was visiting home from Colorado, hung out with Carly, got to see my mentee Jocelyn, and had a hot chocolate date with Sheetal. 
I'm super proud of myself for making a concentrated effort to use my evenings and weekends to see my girlfriends. 

Family

My brother and I both have our birthday's in January, and we celebrated Addison turning 18! It's crazy that he's an actual adult now, I really can't believe it. 

Professional/Personal

I'm combining these two categories because I feel like I don't have a true distinction in my life at this point. This month I spoke on a panel for the incoming IBM Summit class and loved getting to answer everyone's questions. I also attended a Women's Bond Club event and was nominated by my peers to be part of the next group of Rising Stars. Rising Stars is the WBC's leadership development program. While I may not be selected this year, it is a great honor to be nominated and I am very excited to continue my involvement in the organization!
Two random things. I've been reading slightly more than normal and am making a more conscious effort to entertain myself through books instead of tv or my computer. Also, I got a new lipstick from Bare Minerals because I had a free offer for my birthday. I am in love with the shade and have actually felt it boost my confidence when I put it on or catch a glance in the mirror throughout the day. It's called "naughty" (I wanted "VIP" but they were all out haha) if you want to give it a try!

Activities with Joe

Joe and I are getting back into going out a bit more as my foot has healed. The big outings of this month include our New Year's Eve celebration at a great restaurant called Peasant, going to the Met to see an exhibition of Dutch art, 

having my birthday dinner at a French place in Astoria,
and visiting One World Trade. 

All in all, a great month and start to the year! What's been the highlight of your month?

-AJF
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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
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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