Alyssa J Cori

October 28, 2020

How a Googler Uses Google Tools for Productivity

I've always been into productivity and making sure that I get the most out of the time I spend working. I have a whole series of posts on the topic you can check out here. Today I want to delve into the Google Workspace tools that you can use to manage your time, increase your productivity, and work smarter. I feel extra qualified to share this advice now that I work for Google!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Find out how a Googler uses Google calendar and Gmail for productivity


Gmail

If you use Gmail for your work and personal life you have a ton of features at your disposal. Let's start with how you set up your inbox. 

Inbox Type
You have a few options to view your inbox; default, important first, unread first, starred first, priority inbox, multiple inboxes. I find the best is "priority" inbox. I customize mine to be "important" then "unread" then "everything else." When a new message comes in you can read it and then decide where you want it to live: right up in the important section or in the everything else section (I usually collapse that) or archived. 


Tasks
My inbox management changed when I discovered how you can use Google Tasks in your inbox. When you're on an email you can click the little check mark at the top to add to tasks. When I respond to an email, I'll hit tasks and set it to a couple of days later so I remember to follow up if I haven't gotten a response. You can add additional notes and subtasks too, plus this allows you to archive the email and take it out of your inbox without forgetting about it. I go to my tasks section every day to review the emails I need to follow up on and any other notes I've thrown in.



I know some people like the "snooze" function that takes an email out of your inbox and then brings it back at a certain time. I'm not a fan, but that could be a good alternative to follow up on emails if you're not into using tasks. 

Schedule Send
When you are composing an email you have the option to schedule what time it will send. Instead of hitting send, you'll click the dropdown arrow next to send and select "schedule send." You can then chose the date and time you want your message to go out. This is useful if you are working on emails during off hours and want to make sure your recipient sees it during business hours or you have a specific event you want to follow up on. 

Star
If I am receiving a lot of emails in one day, I like to use the Star function to call out the emails I know I want to get back to. Instead of moving them to tasks, this is what I use to make sure I look back at these specific emails on the same day. 

Folders
I hardly use folders anymore. I've converted to archiving emails and then using the search function...but if you do still want to use folders (I find this more useful in my personal inbox) you can control the order they show up in by putting a number in front of them. Simple, but effective.

Chrome

Do you find yourself keeping the same key tabs open every day? Most likely your email, your calendar, Drive, Slack...in Google Chrome you can "pin" tabs to be open every time you open a window. All you do is open the tab, right click, and select "pin." This is a small time saver that makes a big difference. And since it makes those tabs smaller it gives you more room for the other tabs you're working in. 



Calendar

Customize calendar colors
Did you know that you can choose more than the standard colors? Click the three dots next to a calendar, the plus sign, then you can enter a Hex code. I like to go on Pinterest and look at color schemes to get ideas and switch it up. I've currently got a fall scheme going that I love!



Gray out what already happened
Most of my days I have back to back meetings and tasks that I put on my calendar (more on that below). When I take a glance it's helpful to see what has already happened and what's coming up. If you go to Settings you can go to View Options and check the box to "Reduce the brightness of past events."



Use your calendar for meetings and tasks
Google give you Task and Reminder calendars by default. I find them somewhat constricting, so I uncheck those. Instead, I created my own calendar I call Tasks and use that to insert times into my day when I am going to do certain work. I go to settings for that calendar and don't make it visible to my colleagues. 

Shared calendars
I have one shared calendar "Joe & Alyssa" that we use for dates and hanging out with friends that is visible for both of us. We can both edit this and keep it private from colleagues.

Those are my top tips for productivity with Google tools I use all day, everyday. Do you have any useful methods for managing your inbox and calendar? Would love to hear!

-Alyssa J

October 21, 2020

How to Plan a Micro Wedding in 4 Weeks

Is it cliche to start this post saying that this year has been unexpected and challenging? Well, cliches are effective because they're true! You may remember that Joe and I got engaged last year and started planning a wedding for September 2020. We held out hope for a long time that things would get better in time for our 60 person wedding (that's small, right? Right.), but alas it couldn't safely happen. 
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out all the tips and timelines you need to know to plan a micro wedding in 4 weeks


We decided to push our celebration to 2021, but still wanted to get married this year. After a lot of consideration, we planned a micro wedding for October 4, 2020 with our family and a few friends. We came to the conclusion that we would go ahead with a micro wedding about 4 weeks before our selected date. I'm going to take you through how I modified our plans for a larger celebration and what the experience was like. Let's get started!

Week 1: Figure out what you can and can't reuse from your original plans

If you decided to downsize and cancel a larger celebration altogether, you can start by talking with your vendors about how you can amend your original contracts. For us, we had the flexibility to work with existing vendors or start a fresh contract for our smaller event with new vendors. We decided to use a different florist, venue, and hair & makeup artists, but kept the same photographer and officiant, and nixed a DJ. 



Week 1 (continued): Pull out your calendar and figure out what dates work

We coordinated with two different venues (our original and our micro wedding space) at the same time, plus the vendors we were going to work with for the micro wedding to make sure we picked a date that worked for everyone. From there, we were able to go to the next step of securing new vendors for the services we needed. 



Weeks 1 and 2: Determine what is safe and allowed in your area as you decide on new vendors and make modifications to existing contracts

We were lucky to have already identified the venue we ended up using during our initial venue search as the perfect place for our micro wedding. With ceremony space, food, cake, bar, and reception space included, there wasn't much else we needed to provide. My mother was a huge help (read: she did it all) finding new hair and makeup artists that were still working during COVID. She also identified a local florist that could support a smaller event, and we were in business from there. 


Weeks 2 and 3: Communicate with your guests to ensure everyone is comfortable

Let people know who will be there, how the event will be set up, and other relevant details that will help them feel prepared and comfortable attending.


Week 4: Think through your timeline and all of the elements that you are doing yourself

Admittedly, I spent way too much time creating a timeline. You really only need the big things to be laid out, and the little details fit in where they may. I'd recommend you plan out the "getting ready" time, the ceremony time, and when dinner is served. You can then bucket things in a "before and after" style. I.e. before the ceremony we need to check the volume on the speakers, instead of saying at 4:57pm we need to check the volume on the speakers 😂

You also need to think about the stuff that you are now doing yourself that you might not have been planning to do for your larger celebration. I mentioned that we decided not to have a DJ, so we needed to ask for help to play the music for the ceremony from our phones to the venue's speakers. 


Week 4 (continued): Ask for help and relax

You are having a beautiful event with your family and (maybe) closest friends. So don't be afraid to ask for help! While we had a somewhat formal wedding in terms of location and attire, it also felt casual since we have the people there who are closest to us. You can ask for support and help and know that everyone is pulling together to help you have the best possible experience! 


We had an amazing time are incredibly glad that we decided to get married this year. We're excited to renew our vows next year in the way that was planned, but it was more important for us to be married than to wait for the "perfect" celebration. And, as it turns out, our intimate wedding was even better than we had hoped for.

I'm going to share more about the wedding planning process for our larger wedding (I'm really proud of my spreadsheet), as well as our mini-moon that replaced our larger trip to Italy and Portugal. Let me know if there's anything specific you'd like me to cover.

Photography by Sean Madden.

-Alyssa J

October 14, 2020

How to Save Money on Necessities

If you know me, you know I love to save money. I've talked a lot about not buying things in the first place in all of my minimalism posts. What I haven't talked much about is saving money on essential purchases. Today I want to share my top tips that have saved me tons of money and aren't really all that hard to do.

Groceries: Fetch Rewards

I first heard about this app from a YouTuber and was surprised I hadn't come across it before! Fetch Rewards is super simple to use. All you do is take a photo of your receipt from the grocery store and you automatically get "points." You can then convert those points into gift cards, including Amazon (which to me is just like getting cash). 

The other great benefit is that the app helps you keep track of your spending each month. You can set goals or just take a look at where you're spending the most. 

If you sign up and use my code (4XGD3) you'll get 2,000 bonus points!

Prescriptions: GoodRx

Prescriptions can cost major $$$. Once you've taken the first step and asked for a generic versus name brand prescription, you can save even more with GoodRx

You can compare the list price of prescriptions on GoodRx and then get a coupon on top of that. It can be used at any pharmacy, in conjunction with your insurance, and it's as simple as showing the pharmacist the coupon on your phone. You can look up the coupon ahead of time or request to get a card sent to you so you can hand it to the pharmacist each time you get a prescription. 

Can't recommend this enough; I saved over 50% just the other day by using GoodRx. 

Fetch Rewards has a partnership with SingleCare, which seems like a similar concept. I haven't used this yet, but could be another good one to check out. 

Eating Out: Seated

I have to thank Joe for this one. Seated is an app for restaurant reservations (and now take out too) where you get rewards each time you eat out at a participating restaurant that can be converted into gift cards (same concept as Fetch Rewards). You take a photo of your receipt at the end of the meal, upload it, and get points that can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards, among others. 

Different restaurants have different percentage rewards, so you can pick places that are "surging" to maximize your rewards. You can use my referral link here to get an extra $5 reward on your first reservation!

Shopping: Rakuten, Honey, Discount Gift Cards

I've written about Honey (the browser extension that helps you find coupon codes and get gift cards with points) and buying discounted gift cards here. I haven't shared Rakuten before, which is an extension for cash back.

Rakuten is different than the others because you do truly get cash back, rather than turning in points for a gift card. You get a percentage of each purchase and when you hit a certain threshold you get that money back to you via PayPal. 

Another good practice is to take a look at your credit card rewards and see if there is anything you need to activate. For my credit card I have to take a look each month to see the new rewards and add them to card. 

How do you maximize your savings? Any tips you love? 

-Alyssa J

September 30, 2020

September 2020 Monthly Recap

Last month was super light on photos. I made a concentrated effort this month to take more photos and have a good amount to share this time around! Let's jump right in.


Joe and I celebrated our WBWD ("would have been wedding day"...that's an Alyssa original 😂). I made us a wedding cake and Joe bought me flowers, and family and friends sent gifts to let us know they were thinking of us. It was incredibly sweet.



I went to the Met and continued the process of visiting different sections. I ran into Sheetal while I was there and it was so good to see a friendly face in my favorite place.


I also visited the NY Historical Society and took a look at their outdoor exhibit. It was a series of photos and audio recordings about experiencing the early days of the pandemic in the city. 


We've gotten to see quite a few friends this month, which has been so great! Trying to take advantage of outdoor hangouts before the weather changes. 


We got an Instant Pot and Joe made the most delicious carnitas. I'm excited to keep experimenting with it and have a feeling this will be a favorite winter activity.


Sheetal and I met up for ice cream and I am absolutely in love with Emack & Bolio's Cookie Monster ice cream; its a combination of cookie dough and cookies and cream. Is there anything better?


My morning walks (part of my quarantine routine) have continued to keep me sane. 


I don't usually share my outfits (although if you want to laugh, check out my second ever blog post from 2013. Please notice that I give myself "photo credit" for a selfie 😂), but I was really feeling this all white look. Finding comfortable shoes are such a struggle for me. The verdict is still out on these, but I am obsessed with the way they look.  


What have you been up to this month? 

-Alyssa J

September 23, 2020

That Time I Was A Model For A Museum

This post is a fun one! My brother is a dancer and performer, so my mother is always scanning websites for auditions and opportunities. One day she came across the chance to be a model for the South Street Seaport Museum and to ride their historic schooner. She asked me if I wanted to do it, and of course I said yes! 
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out the fun story of the time when I was a model for a museum in NYC


I am obsessed with New York, and history, and being on the water, so this was a dream. The museum's mission is to "preserve and interpret the ​origins and growth of New York City as a world port, a place where goods, labor, and cultures are exchanged through work, commerce, and the interaction of diverse communities." They do this both through their museum on land and their historic boat tours.

I headed out bright and early to be there for sunrise. It was May (2019), so being on the water was pretty cold, but the views more than made up for it.


Well, tons of time went by and we didn't see any of results of the big photo shoot...until recently! 

You can see me here on this page with all of my model friends, looking at sea creatures. They instructed us to act natural and chat with each other. I'm pretty good, if I do say so myself. 


But most excitingly, you can see me a few times in this video! From pulling the lines, to telling stories to my new friends, I had so much fun being in this. 

-Alyssa J