Alyssa J Freitas

May 31, 2016

How To Avoid Time Wasters

Twitter. Instagram. Youtube. Facebook. Email. PINTEREST. You may think I was listing out social media and tools that are everyday necessities, but do you know what I really listed? I just touched on a few of the biggest, productivity killing, time wasters we are all dumping countless hours in to every day. I wanted to find out exactly how much time we are spending, but the statistics I found varied from forty minutes to three hours...so let's just go with it's a lot.
How To Avoid Time Wasters
I don't know about you, but I want to accomplish quite a bit on a daily basis. I am conscious of my productivity (I share tips here, here, and here) and getting tasks accomplished, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not alone in feeling as though I could improve were I to minimize time wasters. So how have I gone about changing my habits, and how can you do it too? Let's dive in!


Step 1: Observe

So the first thing you'll want to do is see where your time is going. While I listed a whole bunch of online time wasters, you may find yourself texting too much or distracting yourself with cleaning or snacking or who knows what. Take a few days to be mindful of how you are spending your time and identify what is unnecessary.


Step 2: Find out WHY

Once you know what your time wasters are, determine WHY you are drawn to them. For me, I love Pinterest like nothing else. The beautiful imagery and the links to useful resources always have me coming back for more. A great way to address this is by being a social media minimalist (which I proudly am!), but I still find myself opening the app even when I am up to date on my feed. I've found the reason I do this is because I look to Pinterest for inspiration and treat it as something productive ("I need new blog post ideas," I lie to myself), even when it isn't. This means I need to find a way to feel inspired that doesn't lead me down a productivity killing rabit hole. 

For what you've observed in step 1, ask yourself these questions:
  • What's appealing about x?
  • How does x hold my attention?
  • Could I get the same feeling/satisfaction from something else?


Step 3: Combat

Now is the time to take action! Since you now know what is taking your time and why that is, you can address it. For me, I realized that I would have to replace Pinterest with something that left me feeling inspired and that I could look forward to that would not serve as a continual distraction. Instead of popping over to the site anytime I was feeling a bit bored with my work, I decided instead to allow myself one morning and one evening Pinterest session (and if you see pins going up on my account at different times, that's because I schedule them in advance, not because I'm using it as a time waster!). I also have shifted the source of my inspiration to magazines, books, and spending time outside, which requires dedicated time instead of serving as a distraction. 

Limiting your time and looking at fulfilling the same desire in a different way can help you to eliminate these time wasters!


Step 3.5: Acknowledge  

This last step doesn't quite count as a full step, but I think it's very important. You have to acknowledge that these time wasters are (usually) designed to grab your attention and keep you coming back. Especially for social media, they are made to keep you engaged so that they can make money. Don't beat yourself up too much if you find it difficult to distance yourself. Rather, be both disciplined and forgiving with yourself, while continually striving to improve.

What do you find sucks away your time? How do you avoid it?

-AJF 

May 26, 2016

The Golden Rule Of Etiquette

Etiquette can be confusing. And complicated. And completely overwhelming. But, as you know, I think etiquette is also amazing and essential and always relevant. While you can read many books on the topic (which I absolutely LOVE to do!), there is a simple golden rule that etiquette boils down to.
The Golden Rule Of Etiquette

Always strive to put others at ease.


Intrinsically, it doesn't actually matter if you introduce an elder first, or use a fish knife, or stand when a lady leaves the room. The entire purpose of etiquette is to create an environment where people know what is expected of them and others, and that makes one feel safe and at ease in this knowledge.

So how does this translate to actions you should take when interacting with others? You should never make anyone feel badly if they stumble. Nor should you have an air of superiority because you know how to act in accordance with archaic rules of etiquette. Rather, you should speak kindly, be supportive, and intentionally choose how you communicate.

Etiquette has the power to elevate our lifestyle as we improve the way we interact with others. It can allow us to move through life gracefully and can enhance our professional and personal relationships.

There's really not much more to say on the matter because to me it seems fairly intuitive. Don't get bogged down in rules and ceremony, instead focus on having positive interactions where everyone comes away from the situation feeling happy and as though they have gained something. As Emily Post said "Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."

What are your thoughts on the golden rule of etiquette?

-AJF

May 24, 2016

Why It's Ok Not To Drink In College

"So wait, you really don't drink?" I get this question quite frequently. As a 21 year old college student who enjoys going out with friends and socializing at bars and clubs, it is quite unheard of not to drink in such situations. When I go to a house party and am offered a beer, or am chatting with someone new at the bar and am asked if I'd like a drink, I simply smile and say, "Thank you, but I'm all set." However, as I spend more time with someone and the conversation progresses, or I see them throughout the night and they notice I don't have a drink, I seem to be continually met with a look of slight confusion and genuine curiosity.
Why It's Ok Not To Drink In College
Coming in to college I thought not drinking would be viewed as uncool, prudish, and downright strange. What I've learned is actually the opposite, so today I'm going to share with you why it's really ok not to drink in college.

The people who matter won't care.

Sure, the guy you meet at a frat party may think you're lame, or the party girls on your freshmen floor might not invite you out, but guess what? That's just fine because the people who matte won't care! You'll make friends who have more in common with you than just looking to "have a good time" and you will learn to have fun in all situations. I absolutely love to go out dancing and have friends who are more than happy to join me even if I'm not drinking.

You can be a designated driver and keep others safe.

I always offer to drive and take pride in knowing that I am doing a favor for my friends and keeping others safe. Plus, who doesn't love some extra gas money?

You can appreciate the choices others make, while being confident in your own.

This is a huge one! Judging what other people do and making them feel bad about their choices by looking down on them is not a kind thing to do (remember the golden rule of etiquette is to put others at ease!). When you make the minority choice not to drink, you should not approach a conversation about it from a place of superiority. What I've found is that people are generally truly interested in knowing why you don't drink and learning more about your reasons. This is not an opportunity to convince them they shouldn't drink too, but rather share your own thoughts and invite an open discourse. While there's no need to dwell on it, for me it has been the start of really great conversations on multiple occasions.

I am a firm believer that we can each make choices that are right for us, respecting our health and well-being (and this varies for everyone!) and that you should not feel ashamed if you are not part of the majority.

How do you feel about drinking or not drinking in college?

-AJF

May 19, 2016

3 Times Physical Is Better Than Digital

I had an internal debate the other day. I was wondering when we should use paper as opposed to going digital. Since I pride myself on my use of technology to improve my everyday life, I am always on the hunt for new apps. After watching a youtube video (about who can even remember what) that mentioned using an app for journaling, I went to the app store, chose an journaling app, and was totally pumped about making the switch from a physical to a digital journal.
3 Times Physical Is Better Than Digital
I have been journaling since I was in the eighth grade and truly believe that it can be an essential part of reflecting and leaving a record of your life. It's a therapeutic process that I won't ever hesitate to recommend. But does it really matter if it's done digitally or physically? I thought perhaps having it in digital form would be a great way to waste less paper, have a secure backup, and make use of added benefits such as easily being able to add photos. Yet upon further thought I realized that there are unique benefits to having a handwritten journal. I'm going to share these benefits not only for journaling, but also for keeping track of assignments and for correspondence.

Paper is good when journaling...

  • You get to leave behind your handwriting, which is unique and wonderful and becoming increasingly rare.
  • There is an intimacy in curling up with your journal, away from the glow of a screen, to share your thoughts.
  • You can be free in your visual expression with drawings and arrows and cross outs and whatever else you feel like creating in the moment.
  • The imperfections (like awful spelling and messy handwriting when you're excited and just trying to get out all of your thoughts) are authentic and lovely. 


Paper is good when tracking assignments...

  • You get the supreme pleasure of physically crossing assignments off your list.
  • Since it's not always with you on your phone, you can more easily detach from work. 
While I do like to keep general to-do lists in my Wunderlist app, for school assignments having detachment can be so important! 


Paper is good when writing thank you notes...

  • It demonstrates time and effort.
  • It's personal and timeless.
  • You can express your style with stationary.
While I won't suggest that every thank you must be mailed (email is more convenient and can be turned to in more casual or timely situations), there is much to be said for sending out a physical note. For etiquette on thank you notes, check out this post.  

Do you have any instances where you prefer physical to digital?

-AJF

May 17, 2016

How To Consume Media Consciously

Your blogroll is miles long. You can't remember the last time you made it through your entire Instagram feed. And let's not even get started on all of the yet to be listened to podcasts, newsletters sitting in your inbox, and articles you've bookmarked in the hopes of reading later. Sometimes there is so much noise in our lives as we are bombarded by information that it becomes impossible to sort through it. How can you truly process and digest what you have access to without becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed by the information you are inundated with? Here are some simple strategies to help you cut through the fluff and concentrate your consumption on what is truly valuable to you.
How To Consume Media Consciously

Set priorities

With the incredible access that technology affords us to opinions and ideas and information it can be appealing to attempt to consume it all. Reading articles, watching videos, and clicking on every Pinterest post may give us feelings of being well informed and well read, but how much are we actually retaining? My guess is not a whole lot (I did attempt to find some studies on reading retention rates, but it seems the scientists are quite conflicted). If that is the case, it only makes sense that we must set priorities to consume and retain that which is most important to us. For example, if you are a blogger there is no way you can read every article out there about blogging. What you can do is instead set a priority to focus on reading articles about planning editorial content. Once you feel more confident with that subject, select another, and so on. As we continue to grow and evolve, our interests and priorities change and our habits should follow accordingly.

Unfollow, unsubscribe, and focus

It is so, so, SO easy to hit a follow/subscribe button. If you watch a fun video on youtube or read a good blogpost it does not mean that you have to become a follower! Sometimes it is enough to simply view something and appreciate it without committing to the creator. If you are more selective in who you choose to follow you will find that you are less overwhelmed by mediocre content and can focus on being inspired by the people/brands/creators you truly love.

You don't have to know everything

Sometimes it may feel as though if you are not up to date on every new artist and event and blogger, then you are behind. But if we're really honest, so much of what we consume quickly falls to the wayside and becomes irrelevant. For that reason, it is clear that we don't have to put pressure on ourselves to know and read everything. Rather, we can be selective in what we consume, delve deeper into the subjects we are passionate about, and be comfortable knowing more about less. Choose a few newsletters, blogs, and creators you enjoy and selectively supplement those as you see fit.

With these tips you can bring greater clarity and focus into your consumption habits and feel rejuvenated and inspired, instead of overwhelmed and drained. Take some time today to reevaluate who you follow on social media, what news outlets you are subscribed to, and take back control of what you give your attention to. 

How do you consciously consume?

-AJF

This was originally a guest post on the Wonder Forest blog.