Are you in your flow?

Varberg // own photo
Varberg // own photo

 

Time flies when you’re having fun.

I am sure that every once in a while each of us experiences a time when we are so engaged in an activity that the surrounding world does not seem to exist. We are enjoying what we are doing so much that we forget about the passing time and hours feel like seconds. This is how being in flow feels like.

What is flow?

Flow is a state of total immersion in an activity. It is also referred to as ‘being in one’s element’ or ‘being in the zone’. Flow occurs in different situations for different people. Some of us experience flow when we practise sports, some – when we use our creativity to produce a work of art, and others – when we try to solve mathematical problems. But what all these moments have in common is that we use our skills and our energy to the utmost.

When we are in a state of flow our thoughts are focused only on the current activity and we do not waste our energy on thinking about anything else. We don’t think about everyday matters and problems, and can raise above our everyday worries. What is more, we might even forget about our physiological needs; we don’t feel hunger or thirst, and going to the bathroom seems like a waste of time.

How to experience flow?

According to Mihail Csikszentmihalyi*, a psychologist who recognised and named the concept of flow, it is impossible to reach this state without putting any effort. Flow is a reward for taking initiative and for engagement. We experience flow more often when we are actively engaged, not when we spend time on passive activities. So instead of watching sports on TV we should start practising them, or instead of watching adventure films we should search for excitement in real life.

Csikszentmihalyi also thinks that there needs to be the right balance between skills and challenge. Challenge needs to be achievable yet not too easily. If there is too little challenge we soon start to feel bored and unmotivated. For example, some of us might find answering work e-mails extremely unchallenging and therefore will never be ‘in element’ when writing e-mail responses. On the other hand, if there is too much challenge, we feel anxious, frustrated and even defeated. This is how I feel when I try to solve a higher level of sudoku puzzles.

The challenge also needs to involve our skills. We might use the skills that we already have and concentrate all our knowledge and energy on a given task. Or we might expand our existing knowledge and reach another level of know-how.

Examples of flow

I am ‘in the zone’ when I write my blog posts. I really stop paying attention to time and to my needs, and am often surprised when I look at the clock. The other time when I experience flow is when I coach. I love meeting my clients, love the conversations we have, and it happens that we go overtime without even realising it. I can also totally ‘zoom out’ when preparing to coaching sessions; designing activities for my clients, searching for new coaching tools, reading articles or researching put me in my element.

People can experience flow not only when engaged in activities requiring highly developed skills but also when engaged in everyday activities. Some of us will be happiest when cooking, gardening, meeting friends or spending time with a family. Others will be in their element when writing a philosophical essay, giving a presentation at work or preparing a sales report.

What to do to be in flow more often?

If you, like me, would like to experience being in your element more often, try to engage more in activities that you are skilled for and that offer a pleasant outcome. Stay curious and be open to new experiences. Remember that flow is a reward for your engagement, creativity and attention.

If you unsure which activities give you greatest pleasure, start observing yourself. Identify the activities that make you feel accomplished and fulfilled and which give you a lot of energy. Then make sure to assign some time every day for these activities. The more often we experience moments of flow, the happier we feel. No one wants to fall into apathy.

 

When was the last time you experienced flow? What did you do? How did it feel?

 

*To find out more about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his concept of flow refer to this TED talk:

https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?

 

Inspiration #6

inspiration
Göteborg // own photo

 

A handful of inspirational articles:

  • Do you want to be more successful? Start working on you credibility using these five steps. Credibility can only be earned. The more credible and trustworthy you are, the more chances to be successful you have. To me, it is about wanting to become an expert and always willing to learn more.
  • If my previous post inspired you to start writing, here is some advice on how to write every day. My two favourite tips are: start small, i.e. assign 5 or 10 minutes for your first writing sessions, and embrace imperfection. You need to start somewhere!

Do not forget to check my previous posts with inspiration:

 

What inspires you? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

The importance of writing things down

Lisbon // own photo
Lisbon // own photo

 

When do we write? Do we make use of writing in our lives?

Our writing skills develop mostly throughout primary and secondary years of schooling. We learn the first letters when we are just a few years old. It is usually our parents or kindergarten teachers who show us the letters and who teach us how to write a few familiar names. As we continue education, we learn how to build sentences, how to write coherent paragraphs, and then how to produce compositions, descriptions, essays and reports. We study the structures and practise using conjunctions and linking words to make smooth transitions between paragraphs. A few of us start diaries or journals, others try to express their feelings in poetry or songs.

As life goes on, we ditch the diaries and personal notebooks. We still write, though, now mostly ‘to-do’ and check lists, CV’s and personal letters, or reports and presentations for work. We text, write e-mails, fill in calendars with appointments, make status updates on Facebook or write captions under Instagram photos. Some of us might pick up diaries or start blogging, but, sadly, most of us tend to forget that we could use writing in many more ways.

I would like to encourage everyone to start writing. Or to start writing more if you already write.

In my teenage years I used to write diaries and short funny poems. In high school and at university there was so much writing involved that I didn’t even think of writing for pleasure. I picked up writing after a long break in January 2016 when I decided to start this blog. My original idea was to use blogging as a tool to promote myself as a coach. I did not know, though, how exciting my adventure with blogging would become. I had not idea how much I would enjoy the process of creating posts, from the moment of coming up with an idea to the laborious process of editing and polishing every sentence. I discovered a pure joy of writing, and I didn’t even know I had it in me.

Writing for self-improvement

When I look at my first posts I can see that they are rather short. The moment I started the blog I realised I wasn’t quite sure whether I could express myself clearly in writing. I had a lot of ideas but when I started to create first posts I had many doubts. Firstly, I wasn’t sure if my writing was precise and coherent enough, or whether what I wanted to write about would be found interesting. Secondly, I was not writing in my mother tongue. It was quite a struggle in the beginning, and the fear of exposing myself was adding to the anxiety. However, after some time and a lot of work I realised that I truly enjoy writing and blogging.

Yes, writing means work and it takes me hours to compose each post. And yes, I am never totally pleased with the outcome. But I can also see that my writing has improved a lot, and that my thoughts have become clearer and better organised. Hard work has been paying back!

Writing for creativity

To me, writing is like a self-propelled machinery. Once I started, I cannot stop, and the ideas keep on flowing and developing. One things leads to another, and not only do I have more ideas for the blog posts, but I also start to think of other ways to channel my writing. Writing has proven to be a fantastic outlet for my creativity, and just thinking about new posts has enabled me to explore many ideas not strictly connected to writing. I have, for example, taken a course on social media marketing and started to take more photos. All these activities allowed me to reconnect with my inner self; something I had missed since my life had changed with the arrival of my daughter.

Writing for problem solving

Writing can be a fantastic tool for brainstorming and for problem solving. When you have an issue you don’t know how to deal with, I suggest that firstly you describe your problem in writing. Then write down ideas how to solve this problem. Write down as many possible solutions as you can come up with, even unconventional or unrealistic ones. Don’t limit yourself here; often looking at unrealistic or even crazy solutions can be a source of new ideas. After you have completed your list, review all the options and choose the most satisfactory ones.

Writing for keeping goals

Each company has a vision and a mission statement. How about you? What is your personal mission statement? Do you know what your vision is? What do you aim for? I think it is important to keep a written reminder of own values to get to know yourself better. It is also a good idea to formulate your own mission statement and to review it every once in a while.

I keep my goals and my mission statement in a small notebook. I believe that writing down my goals makes me more accountable for them. Also, just taking the time to formulate my mission statement helps me define who I am. In the same way, being clear about my values helps me navigate my way through life.

Writing tools

Here is a list of writing tools that I use on a daily basis:

  • a small notebook (currently a squared pocket notebook by Moleskine) – for writing down ideas, for keeping my goals updated, for making plans, and for brainstorming,
  • Notes (an application by Apple) – for keeping shopping lists, to-do lists, to-read lists, etc.,
  • Google Keep – for writing down ideas, for drafting blog posts, and for saving links and web articles,
  • Google Docs – for drafting blog posts, for planning coaching sessions, for working on own coaching tools, and for creative writing,
  • Strides (an application by Goals LCC) – for tracking progress with achieving goals and habit change,
  • WordPress – for blogging, obviously, but also for storing well-developed drafts.

This probably isn’t a very impressive list but I like to keep things simple. And the most important thing is TO WRITE, for which all you need is a pen and a sheet of paper.

 

What is the last thing you wrote? What is the next thing you are going to write?

 

Time management and the importance of prioritising

time
Sunset // own photo

 

My friends ask me sometimes how I manage my time and am able to do everything I do. This question puzzles me because I don’t think I do anything exceptional.

Yes, I do consider myself organised. I work four days a week, I take care of our child, and I take care of the house. Nothing unusual, right? On top of this, I try to establish myself as a coach. This means that I run this blog and am currently working on improving my website. I constantly want to learn new things that can help me with my career; I took three courses in the past 1.5 years and now am looking for a course in writing. To me, what I do isn’t anything unusual. I believe that a lot of us could make similar lists, couldn’t we?

Having a goal

In my opinion, the key to time management is having a clarified goal. Knowing what you want helps you focus on the activities that will get you there. It can be one of those big life goals, like starting a family, building a house, moving to a new country or completely changing a career path. Or it can be a smaller goal; something that you want to achieve in the coming months or years. Once you realise what is really important to you, you can start planning your days by choosing the right activities and resigning from the ones that present little or no value to you.

Prioritising and planning

Do you know which of your activities are important and which aren’t? Have you ever had a proper look at your everyday routines and analysed their usefulness? Is what you doing every day bringing you closer to reaching your goals? I have, and such analysis astounded me and gave me great insights.

Let’s have a look at the four quadrants of time management. This approach to time organisation was presented by Stephen Covey in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’*. Covey recommends focusing on important things before they become urgent, and emphasises the necessity of planning. By following this advice we should be able to limit or even avoid stressful situations because we take time to predict, plan and prepare.

The four quadrants of time management:

URGENT

NOT URGENT

 IMPORTANT

I

 

II

 NOT IMPORTANT

III

 

IV

Below is the same grid completed with examples of activities:

URGENT

NOT URGENT

 IMPORTANT

I

crises

deadlines

problems

II

planning

prevention

recreation

 NOT IMPORTANT

III

interruptions

some calls

some mail

IV

trivia

time-wasters

some calls

Analysis of your time management skills

Now it is time for you to complete this chart with your everyday activities (download).

After you have completed the grid, take a while to thouroughly analyse activities in each of the quadrants. Here are some thoughts and questions to help you with the analysis:

Quadrant 1: These activities are urgent and important, and need to be dealt with immediately. They can be a result of your poor planning. What can you do to avoid ending up in situations requiring you to make important decisions under pressure?

Quadrant 2: These activities are important but do not need imediate action. The items that you listed here require time, preperation and attention. What can you do to improve your planning and to start every task having an end result in mind? What can you do to shift your daily activities to this quadrant?

Quadrant 3: Here we have activities that are urgent but unimportant. They might be a result of the lack of planning and/or motivation. What can you do to eliminate unnecessary emergencies and to minimise the number of items in this quadrant?

Quadrant 4: In this quadrant you listed unimportant and non-urgent activities. These items bring little or no value. What can you do to minimise or eliminate time-wasters?

Once you have done the analysis and sifted through your daily activities, you should be able to start planning your days and managing your time more efficiently. And remember that your goal is to stay in the second quadrant. This means that you should focus on making plans, building relationships with people, looking for new opportunities, relaxing in order to stay balanced, etc.

 

What are your reflections after doing this analysis? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

*This model is sometimes also referred to as ‘Eisenhower Box’ or ‘Eisenhower Matrix’ because it was developed by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the USA, served as a general in the United States Army, and also became NATO’s first Supreme Commander. He lived a very productive and organised life.

 

What if nothing in your life ever changes?

Tjolöholm // own photo
Tjolöholm // own photo

 

‘What if I told you 10 years from now your life would be exactly the same? Doubt you’d be happy. So, why are you afraid of change?’ – quote by Karen Salmansohn, author of ‘The Bounce Back Book’

 

Imagine your life in 10 years’ time. Where are you? Where do you live? What is your family situation like? Where do you work? How does your day look like?

I guess you are imagining some advancements and some changes for the better.

What if I told you that nothing in your life would ever change…

That you would wake up one morning in 10 years’ time only to find yourself in exactly the same situation as you are in today.

Your day looks the same. Your daily routines are the same. You wake up at the same time, you take the same bus to get to the same job. You still occupy the same desk at work, only that it has more coffee stains and more ink marks on its surface.

At lunch time, you go to the same place. Or you bring your packed lunch from home and eat in the same lunch room at work. The only difference is that there are more new faces around and most of your good colleagues are long gone.

Your job duties haven’t changed much. You hold the same position and perform a set of familiar routines. You don’t feel inspired and inspiring any more. Every time someone new starts working at your office, they raise their eye brows when they hear how long you have worked there for.

You take the same route back home as you have done for the past decade.

At home, your and your partner’s arguments take the usual, well-exercised path. You still haven’t resolved how to divide household duties and the issue of unloaded dishwasher comes back every other day. However, the unpainted walls in the kitchen don’t bother you any more. You have grown a habit of not noticing the faded shade of blue.

Your social circle haven’t changed much. You haven’t learned a new skill, discovered a new hobby or gone to a new place for holidays.

You look back and wish you have done thinks differently. If you had, you would probably be in a very different situation today.

What to do not to end up there?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to suddenly wake up in 10 year’s time only to find out that I wasted years of my life. This vision is exaggerated, but I am pretty sure that there are plenty of people who wish they made smarter choices or better-informed decisions when they still could.

So start changing now! Don’t wait till next Monday, next month, or next year. All it takes is some reflection and then willingness to change.

 

Which aspect/aspects of your life would you like to dramatically change in the coming years?

 

Minimalism with children – is this even possible?

Tjolöholm // own photo
Tjolöholm // own photo

 

Does having children mean an end to your minimalist lifestyle? Is it possible to continue as a minimalist and have children? Does bringing up a child always mean clutter and a flood of toys? Can you stay true to your values without depriving your kid of the joys of childhood?

If you have ever asked yourself such questions then I can relate to you. As someone who strives to be a minimalist I was concerned that having a child would mean an end to my organised lifestyle. I would imagine piles of toys scattered everywhere. Or I would see pink clothes with princesses and frills that I would not have the strength to say no to. My worst nightmare was accommodating clutter by inviting home a lot of unnecessary things. It would seem like an attack on my carefully curated and edited collections of beloved objects.

The good news is that the reality isn’t as bad as I had anticipated. Well, a lot has changed, including myself and my attitudes. I think I have become more relaxed and more tolerant about having some mess at home. And when this mess is creative it means that I have a happy child!

Of course, a lot of new objects have found their way to our home. Some of them were necessary and useful while some were just impractical and meant wasted money. However, I think that I somehow managed to successfully manoeuvre through the traps of buying too much stuff for my daughter.

Below are a few simple rules that I try to follow:

Smarter choices: children’s clothes

  • I have a few favourite colours for my daughter and try to buy clothes within that colour scheme. In such a way everything matches everything (well, mostly) so it is fairly easy to compose her outfits. Also, I buy just a few patterns for easier matching (usually stripes and dots).
  • I let my family and friends know my preferences so they have a better idea of what kind of clothes would be most welcome. But, most importantly, when I am asked ‘What could we buy for her?’, I politely say that she has enough and doesn’t need more.
  • I part with gifted clothes and accessories that don’t meet my criteria of quality, functionality and appearance. If possible, I return them to a store, I resell or donate them. I do it without feeling any guilt. In my opinion a gift serves its purpose when it is thought about, purchased/made and given. After I have received it, it is my choice what to do with it. And if I don’t like it or don’t need it, I let it go.

Smarter choices: children’s toys

  • I use similar criteria for toys that I use for clothing: a toy should be educational, purposeful and of a decent quality. To me, it is also important that a toy is visually pleasing. I believe that by choosing prettier objects I help my daughter develop a taste for nicer things and become a more aware consumer.
  • If my child doesn’t play with a certain toy, I give it some time. I encourage her and show ways to use it. If it still doesn’t catch on, I get rid of that toy. And I don’t have any regrets about it; the money has already been spent.
  • I don’t feel guilty about partying with the toys given by family and friends. In my opinion, it is my job as a parent to decide how and with what my child plays.
  • I came to a realisation that even the fanciest toy is nothing compared to the time spent with a parent who is willing to play. It is better to have three toys and a company than hundreds of toys and no one to play with.

Teaching children that it is ok to part with things

How about inviting children to assist you when decluttering and cleaning? In such a way they can learn how to make first decisions as consumers.

I often invite my daughter to assist me when organising her things. By helping me she learns where all her things belong and where to put them back. She is getting better and better at this. Already now, at the age of 3, she often surprises me by remembering where to put things away.

It is also important to me that my child learns that letting things go is natural. She knows, for example, that to get money for the trampoline, we decided to sell her pram and some toys. Sometimes she helps me choose the toys to get rid off, and she sees me packing them and putting them aside. I hope that she will always value the intangible more than any material possessions. I also hope that in the future she will become an intuitive consumer: someone who can make smart shopping choices.

Of course, I do make mistakes. There are some things I bought on the spur of the moment. They were a waste of my money and my time. But I keep on trying and, hopefully, I am getting better at becoming a minimalist parent.

 

What are you tips for keeping your children’s clutter at bay?

 

Inspiration #5

Stockholm // own photo
Stockholm // own photo

 

A handful of inspirational articles:

  • I really like the three pieces of advice shared by Rachel Thomas, the co-founder and president of Lean In Foundation. The best one: you have zero chances of being successful if you don’t try! By the way, check the LeanIn website for many more inspiring articles.
  • If you wonder how to become a high achiever, I recommend that you read ‘It Only Takes 6 Steps to Plan Your Success’ written by Jim Rohn. Jim Rohn was an American entrepreneur, mentor and speaker who influenced many motivational authors popular today. According to him, success is ‘a few simple disciplines practised every day’. I like this definition!
  • How to build a child’s self-confidence? One small change in how you talk to a kid can make a tremendous difference. It is called ‘a growth mindset’ and you can read more about it and the research behind it here.

Do not forget to check my previous posts with inspiration:

 

What inspires you? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

The power of habits: is what you doing today contributing to your tomorrow?

habits
Carinthia, Austria // own photo

 

Do you live consciously and are aware that even one small everyday decision might change your future? Or are you just letting your days go by? Have you ever reflected upon your daily routines? If so, what were your findings? Have you got rid of an unnecessary habit? If so, how has it improved your life?

The above questions are worth pondering about, even though the conclusions of such self-conversations might make you feel uncomfortable. If you want to be successful in life, regardless of how you define ‘success’, it is valuable to reflect upon such matters and give honest answers. Because both you and I want to be in control of our lives and not let the circumstances, habits or other people control us.

I want to live my life with full awareness therefore I often reflect on and evaluate my everyday routines. I also often ask myself: ‘Is what I am doing now going to bring me closer to achieving my goals?’

I believe in the power of everyday habits and routines. Firstly, once we develop a habit, it becomes our second nature and we don’t really need to think about it, we just do it automatically. Secondly, every little step made every day takes us closer to where we want to be – and what a great feeling that is: knowing that every day you can do something to positively affect your tomorrow!

My current habits

Here are some of the habits which I have developed over the years and which I am proud of:

  • I put things away. Also, as soon as I purchase a new item, I find a place to store it. I make sure that everyone in my family puts things where they belong, after each use. Such a system helps us avoid mess in the house.
  • I clean my closets on a regular basis which helps me live a fairly decluttered life.
  • When I was about 10 years old my Mum taught me how to crochet, knit and mend clothes. Since then I have been repairing not only my own clothes, but also my friends’ and my relatives’. Whenever the damage occurs, I repair it straight away. This habits helps me avoid unpleasant surprises, like discovering a broken zipper on a pair of trousers I want to wear when I am just about to leave the house.
  • I save up. I always have. This habit helped me, for example, to make a down payment on my house.
  • I use my commute time (about 1 – 1.5 hours every day) wisely. I either do something useful for my career (participating in webinars, taking online courses, studying and reading) or do something for my pleasure (watching films). For me, fiddling with the phone or staring out of the window is a waste of time.
  • I often think of my career and reevaluate my professional goals. I keep a document where I write what I would like to do next and which steps I need to take to get there. For me, it is very useful to have a plan like this, and I learned that writing things down helps me visualise my aims and makes me feel accountable for them. Thanks to this habits in the past 3 years I did four courses, including coaching, project management and marketing, and I am planning to learn more.

Some things I want to try

I enjoy reading about habits of successful people and here are some routines I want to try and see if they would work for me:

  • As cruel as it sounds, I want to try to get up at 5 a.m. on week days. I work full time, I commute, and I have a small child. After getting back home from work I don’t have much possibility to do anything creative on my own so this would give me an extra hour just for myself to read or to write.
  • I would like to start a journal. Maybe 5 a.m. would be the perfect time to start writing down my thoughts?

 

It is important to realise that changing habits is a process and that implementing new habits takes time. While we might not always enjoy where we are, our habits can lift us and take us to new places. On the other hand, you might be enjoying what you do today, but if I told you that you would be in the same position in 10 years’ time, would it make you feel content? Is this contentment valuable enough to last your lifetime?

 

What are your daily routines that bring you closer to your life or career goals? I will gladly ready about them in the comments.

If you would like to read more about everyday routines, you can check one of my previous posts here.

 

Inspiration #4

inspiration
Vrångo // own photo

 

A handful of inspirational articles:

  • Here are some interesting thoughts on using technology when on vacation. I agree that technology might be disruptive and I rather spend my summer holidays without it.
  • I am a bit too old to call myself a ‘millennial’ but am totally into living a simpler life with less stuff. Here is a Washington Post article explaining why a younger generation might be loosing sentimental attachment to things.
  • A story on how becoming a minimalist can change your life for the better.

Do not forget to check my previous posts with inspiration:

 

What inspires you? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

Summer minimalism – a rough guide

A beach on the Costa Blanca // own photo

 

I am super excited today because it is officially the first day of my summer holidays. We have no specific plans at this point but I already know how I want to spend the summer, no matter where I should find myself. So here it is, my rough guide to enjoying the summer time while staying true to a minimalistic way of living. All the tips come from my experience.

Summer sales

Yay, summer sales! Well, I am already done with sales shopping this year so no more time wasted (yes, wasted) in the shops for me. A few years ago this time of a year would mean spending hours walking around the stores in search for nothing in particular. I would end up buying things that I didn’t need, didn’t really like, and, as a result, didn’t wear or use much. Wrong size, wrong colour, or wrong shape didn’t matter as long as they were justified by a lowered price.

For the past few years I have been wiser, and this year I am particularly proud of myself. I purchased a few items that I had had my eyes on for a while, including a woollen spring/autumn coat (60% off), a suede skirt (also 60% off), and a black leather wallet (66% off). At the point of writing this I am not planning to hunt for more bargains.

Shopping while on vacation

… and spending time in shopping centres buying a lot of stuff we don’t really need. I am not saying shopping is essentially bad, but what is the point of going to a different place and locking yourself in a shopping gallery instead of being out and relaxing? Also, all these stalls on the way to the beach – ahh, these can tempting and not easy to avoid. My advice – don’t even stop there unless you want to end up purchasing tones of plastic toys for your child, another pair of cheap sunglasses, or the ‘latest-trend’ bikini for yourself. You don’t need those, nor does your child need that third plastic spade.

If I want to stay true to my values and not to come home with a moral hangover I don’t use holidays as permission to spend recklessly. Yes, I do spend more money in the summer but I would rather get nice memories or small tokens to remind me of the wonderful time I had. This is what I exchange my money for:

  • Going to a nicer restaurant and trying a new dish.
  • Going on an excursion.
  • Buying some local food that I can bring home, preserve and enjoy at a later time (i.e. Italian ham, Spanish cheese, olive oil, vinegar, coffee, local wine).
  • Buying locally made craft (i.e. a ceramic salad bowl, a vinegar bottle).

Sometimes, I also bring back recipes and I try to recreate the dishes we especially liked.

Spending money in a smarter way

I try to find a balance between not spending too much money and yet not missing out on what a place I visit has to offer. I don’t want to come home broke after a two-week holiday and I don’t want to feel there was more I should have done, seen or experienced. So how to find this balance?

First of all, I realised that we don’t need to eat out every night. The deal is: one night out and one night in. And since I enjoy cooking, there are usually fresh local foods to use, and the apartments we stay at often have a balcony or a terrace, we can still have a great meal in wonderful surroundings.

The other tip is to resign from breakfasts that the hotels offer (the holiday deals often include breakfasts and other meals for extra price). Instead, we either prepare breakfasts ourselves, which costs the fraction of the hotel price, or we find local places to eat out (and this is also a rather inexpensive option). Last time we went to Mallorca, we would take a 30-minute walk by the beach every morning to go to a local cafeteria that offered amazing tomato toasts (2 euro) and delicious coffee (1,5 euro). We would do that nearly every day and we still talk about these walks, the quiet beach, the cool breeze and the toasts, of course.

Travelling light

Every time when I visit my sister and she looks into my suitcase, she is surprised that I pack so little. The thing is that I can pack mine and my daughter’s belongings into one average-sized suitcase. I have learned one thing: not to take too many clothes and not to take anything ‘just in case’ (well, this does not apply to some medicines, especially when you are travelling with a small child). My stand is that there are always shops so should I desperately need something, I can always buy it. I don’t think this has ever happened, though.

I don’t pack 3 smart dresses ‘in case’ I am invited to a party. I don’t take 3 pairs of long trousers ‘in case’ the weather changes for the worse. There is no recipe what to take and what to leave but it should be fairly easy to figure out for yourself based on your experience. Really, have you ever used all the things that you packed? So no, don’t take things ‘in case’ and enjoy the pleasure of travelling light.

Summer relaxation

… is what the summer is for. The holidays wouldn’t be great without proper relaxation and rest. It is a summer post and maybe relaxation should be mentioned as first. But then the focus of this post is how to be minimalistic so it comes here.

I am a person who needs to learn how to relax better. I have tried several ways and methods, and here are the ones that help me switch off best:

  • Dot-to-dot books for adults are my fairly recent discovery. Having tried colouring books for adults last summer and realising it is not for me, I kept on exploring. And then I found dot-to-dot books by Thomas Pavite. What I especially like about his books is that unless you check the inside of the book cover, you don’t know what you are drawing. What a great way of spending hours with a pencil in your hand! And I warn you: dot-to-dotting can be addictive.
  • Reading is absolutely the best way for me to relax. And what could be best then reading a great book in the sunshine? Right now I am into biographies and autobiographies. A couple of weeks ago I finished John Cleese’s autobiography (‘So, Anyway…’) and can recommend it – what a great style of writing and a great sense of humour.
  • I also like lighter summer reads. My favourite author is Jane Fallon (i.e. ‘Getting Rid of Matthew’, ‘Got You Back’). I have just read her latest novel (‘Strictly Between Us’) and am in search for a good easy summer read. Do you have any recommendations?
  • Playing with my child used to be one of the chores until I rediscovered the joy of behaving like a child (well, sometimes!). So now we have a bunch of activities that we both enjoy. We do drawing and painting, we cut paper, we dance and sing, and we try gardening. I also started to make clothes for her dolls. This is something I used to do for mine when I was about 8-10 years old.
  • Cooking is not new to me but finding out that I really really like it, is. A few times a month I try a new recipe with more or less success. Some of the dishes make it to our regular menu while others are never tried again. I just like being in the kitchen, chopping and mixing, and waiting for the final result.

Summer decluttering

The other way I use my time off is to do extra decluttering at home. Amazingly, I always find things to get rid off – and this is another reminder to not buy more things when on vacation and to carefully consider every potential purchase.

My plan for this summer is to reorganise our walk-in closet and my daughter’s wardrobe. I want to try on every piece of clothing I own and to let go as many as possible. The same goes for my daughter’s clothes. She grows so fast now that I need to do regular reviews of her garments.

It may sound strange but decluttering is my way of relaxing. I really like cleaning, organising and decluttering – it just calms me down.

 

What summer tips do you have? How do you relax best?