The importance of setting priorities

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After many years of work and study in a disorganized way, I finally learnt how important and efficient it is to set priorities in order to meet our goals and expectations. The feeling I have after this lesson? I feel I finally own my time.

Setting priorities is not always easy. It comes with a determined mindset and with responsibility. Being responsible for your own time is so important and not easy things to do.

I didn’t understand in the past why other people were doing more things than I did in the same amount amount of time. I wanted to be productive too, but no matter how much I worked, my results were not what I was expecting. I thought that quantity would produce the productivity I so much yearned for. However, it was quality, in our case establishing priorities, what mattered the most, the element that had the power to produce great results.

Seeing that my results weren’t matching my efforts, I started to write to do lists for a better organization. Back then I didn’t know that lists could help one become more organized, but somehow I felt the urge to write down what I wanted to do in a day for example. Step by step I learnt how to write better lists, what to write on those lists and how to deal with those situations were I didn’t finish everything on my list. I learnt that too much can destroy all the progress and that sometimes to do lists can become overwhelming, which can lead to losing one’s motivation.

I experienced almost everything with lists. I guess in my case, it wasn’t only about writing lists. It was all about writing down my goals. I suppose it is also related to my learning style. When I start learning something new, I have to write notes or to draw any scheme as a visual translation of words according to my own logic. Also I find writing extremely helpful whenever I have to deal with making decisions. Priorities are also decisions we make for ourselves.

Setting priorities mustn’t be something that stops you from change. Priorities must be flexible. As we change, our priorities change too. It’s the right thing to do. When I was in high school, my top priority was always related to good grades and awards. As a student I knew grades were important, but knowledge and experiences became my top priorities. Now my priorities are health and interior peace. And yes! I had to write these down.

While writing down your goals and priorities might not suit your style or organization method, there are plenty of other strategies you can use to prioritize what is the most important thing for you. I want to share with you one method that was absolutely mind-blowing for me and it really showed me what I really care about right now. This method is known under the name of Stephen Covey’s four quadrants for time management, but I learnt about it from my best friend. We played it like a little game and it is an efficient method to get to own your time.

All you have to do is to split a small piece of paper into 4 equal quadrants. Then you have to write in every square, in the order of importance, 4 of the things that mean the most to you. For the next step, you will start eliminating one by one the fourth, the third and the second element from your list (I was sad when I was eliminating my other elements because they were important too :)). Now you are left with the first element which is the most important and usually the one you sacrifice the most. Mine was health, the most important thing for me, but also the one I sacrifice the most for things that can be done slowly, for things that can be replaced. It was an extremely valuable lesson for me, one that I feel happy to share with you.

I am curious about other ways of prioritizing goals or time management tips and tricks you might use. So feel free to share with me your methods in the comments.

Stay healthy and positive and I’ll see you around.

Today’s quote 3

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If a man chooses a certain Way and seems to have no particular talent for this Way, he can still become a master if he so chooses. By keeping at a particular form of study a man can attain perfection either in this life or the next (if a next life is believed in).
― 
Miyamoto Musashi

As a child I loved learning a lot of different things, but over the years my learning style got all over the place. I became disorganized and I didn’t focus on the things I liked the most, but instead I learned whatever caught my attention. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I am still fascinated with learning new things. But lately I have realized I am not a master in any of it.

My biggest passion are languages. I love learning languages because I feel that every time I learn a new language, a new door to another world opens for me. Languages are another way of travelling to other worlds, to other times, to other cultures.

I have been studying Korean for 6 years now and I feel that Korean is the language my heart resonates the best with. However, after all these years my Korean is still flat. I thought many times that maybe my efforts weren’t enough. It saddened me a lot. Now I like to believe that every language you learn is a new journey you begin. I guess my Korean learning journey will take longer than I thought. But it doesn’t matter. It is a journey I chose and the one that I might enjoy the most.

I know that hard work pays off. I really believe that with great efforts comes the sweetest satisfaction. Great success never comes easily and I never chose the easy way when I wanted to achieve great things. I know that only continuous efforts will take me closer to my scope, even if the process will take longer than any other. Rather than focusing on the final destination, I decided to focus on enjoying the process and of course never give up on something that I really love. This is valid for anything you want to do. Keep doing it, do your best and enjoy the process. I promise you that one day you will see the results.

My rules to keep work-life balance while working from home

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Spending most of my time at home was never too much of a problem for me. In fact I enjoyed spending time alone at home and I still am the same introvert who prefers cozy and quiet atmospheres while enjoying my favorite activities.

When I started working from home I wasn’t affected as people thought I would be. Even if I sometimes miss interactions and working with people, I still believe that work from home is exactly my style. I like working from home because I can still make my own rules. I can wear whatever clothes I want or I can work in my pyjamas if I feel like it. I can sleep a little bit more and still keep a routine. I can work and still look out the window to check the beautiful sky or to see if the mountain is in holyday (this is how my sister and I joke about it when there is too much fog and we can’t see the mountain from our bedroom’s window). During breaks I can eat whatever I find in the fridge or the food my sister cooks for me. I love everything about these small habits that make work more bearable.

I have to admit though that it wasn’t like this from the beginning. It took me a while until I discovered what works for me and how I can enjoy working from home. Also, I still have moments when I get extremely bored, not because I don’t have anything to do, but because I work alone in a room for about 8 hours. Another problem I have to face sometimes when working from home is work-related stress and the fact that it is more difficult to disconnect because I live with my work in the same house. This is why it is so important to find little strategies to help us cope with working from home and even like it. So here are my tips to keep the work-life balance when working from home and why not, enjoy it:

1. Keep a routine. Since I have started working from home I have struggled a lot with finding balance between work and personal life. Now I have an experience of two years in work from home and I can say that starting a routine is a life saver. By routine I mean mainly waking up at the same hour, which means that going to bed at almost the same hour is an imperative. I wake up at 7am and I usually start working at 7:40. Until then I wash myself, I change my clothes, I apply face cream etc. And this is what I do every morning. I made a habit of not snoozing my alarm and I get up as soon as I wake up. Also, I try to maintain the same routine in the weekends as well in order to make of this routine a lifestyle that can make my life easier while working from home. However, I have one exception for the weekends: I allow myself to sleep in.

2. Take regular breaks. I can’t stress enough the importance of taking breaks. It’s good for our eyes, for our brain, for our spine and for our overall mood. When I am in my break time, I try not to use my phone too much in order to relax my eyes. Instead of using my phone I like to talk with my sister and to have a good laugh if possible.

3. Don’t skip breakfast and lunch. This aspect is extremely important to me. I can’t even imagine working without eating my breakfast and lunch. This is how I make sure I am productive while taking care of my health. Also I tend to become grumpy when I’m hungry and I am sure I don’t want to make a scene at work because I skipped a meal :))

4. Tidy work space. I like to keep my desk clutter free and I try to tidy it every day, after I finish work. I also try to organize my desk as simply as possible in order to avoid distractions.

5. Disconnect completely. This is my favorite. When I turn off my computer I try to disconnect completely from work until the next day. Thus when my program ends, I try not to think about work and not to talk about it even if it’s just complaining about how hard my day was in order to focus on myself and my personal activities. I try to avoid as much as possible thoughts like: tomorrow I have to work again and to focus on me and on what I am doing at that specific moment.

These are the most important rules I have in order to keep myself organized, productive and maintain a good work life balance. They come so naturally for me that I don’t even struggle. They are that helpful to me. I know it can be difficult to work from home especially when you don’t have a choice but it’s in most of the cases imposed. Just think that you can work, keep yourself healthy and you can even wear those lovely pyjamas you feel so comfy in while working. Stay positive. Stay healthy and I’ll see you around.

Coping with maximalism as a minimalist

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If you read some of my articles, you already now that I have integrated minimalism in my life. Though I am far from being a minimalist, I make efforts every day in terms of frugality, sustainable lifestyle, reducing objects and, most importantly, in terms of paying attention when buying something new. If you read my articles, you know that I also used to be a maximalist, mostly because I thought I needed a lot of stuff to operate properly my everyday chores and routines. Today, the same person talks about how to cope with maximalism as a minimalist.

I will give you a perfect example for this opposition: my family and I. My father is in love with shopping since forever and he is a fan of buying in bulk. That’s not always a bad thing, especially in times like these, however my father loves to buy things, often saying that: ”We might need it some day.” My mother, she is not a fan of shopping so you might think she a frugal person. Not exactly. She also likes to buy things like dishes, bed sheets, pillowcases… you got the idea.

When I moved in another city to continue my studies, I was somehow forced by the circumstances to learn how to pack less and how to live with less. But even if I left home with almost nothing, until the end of the year I would double my possessions and it would be always difficult to move back home with all the luggage and then repeat the process the next year. Every year I would promise to myself that I won’t repeat the same mistake, but guess what? I’ve repeated the process for about 5 years. It was difficult to understand how exactly to keep this promise, I thought it was because I didn’t own my house, but now I know it was only an excuse.

When I decided to move back with my parents, I had already adopted minimalism and I decided to make more efforts to achieve an easier and simpler lifestyle. But I had forgotten that my parents had another lifestyle and it was me the one who changed. At the beginning I was constantly frustrated and I still am sometimes even these days. But then I remember that I have my lifestyle and my parents have theirs. I made my choice for mine and they made their choice for their own lifestyle. Since moving back with my parents I have learnt a lot of tricks that helped me cope with their maximalist lifestyle and I hope it can help you too.

So here you have it:

  1. Expect things to be difficult and take a deep breath.
  2. Don’t try to empty their things without asking if they still need them.
  3. Understand their perception on order and cleaning.
  4. Try to accept their lifestyle as it is.
  5. Make small changes gradually.
  6. Make suggestions and don’t try to force them to reduce their things. Make their brain become accustomed to the idea of reducing possessions.
  7. Make compromises.

I learnt from my own experience that you can’t impose your lifestyle to other people, even if they are your family. Maybe I tried to do it at first, because the pile of things was just too much for the new me to handle, but step by step I learnt to look the other way. There are still days when my brain says ”Look at that pile of things” and I actually see it. But then I start laughing, thinking that I’ve been trough that a thousand times before. While our lives and lifestyles can’t be perfect, transitioning to a new lifestyle or coping with different lifestyles can’t be perfect too. It is only a matter of patience, understanding and acceptance. And time is important too. Give time to them and to yourself as well.

Productivity vs. slow living

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Living a slow paced life is often seen as the opposite of productivity. I think it is because slow is often seen as doing nothing. But this is far from the truth and it took me a while to realize this.

Actually I used to believe the same thing. Rather than a prejudice I think I was afraid of not doing my best, afraid of being unproductive. Also, what brought me closer to my idea of slow paced life is the continuous fatigue that almost ruined my health, not a high level of productivity that you might think I had, while reading this. I realized only later that even if I was exhausted, I wasn’t exactly the most productive person. This is very close related to the principles of prioritization and time-management. Stress management and mental health care are also very important pieces in this puzzle. I used to do things the wrong way, but at least I know it now and I am trying to fix things.

I talked before here about the importance of journaling in my life and how this practice helped me understand and know myself better. I am a to-do-list person since I was young. I loved having long lists about anything and I thought that keeping myself busy would only bring me benefits. Little I knew about the truth. Long lists and the pressure I put on myself only harmed my physical and mental health.

Today I am the same to-do-list person. The difference is that I have changed my mindset and my approach. Today I write better lists, with only the most important things I want to do every day.
• My lists are now shorter, and even when I put more on the list, I prioritize the most important things.
• I became more flexible and I forgive myself when I can’t finish the things on my list.
I allow myself to begin with what I am most comfortable doing first. I don’t try to get the elephant out of the room.
• I adapt my lists based on the needs I have in a certain day.
• I don’t look specifically for productivity but for self-satisfaction.

Today I believe that you can be productive while living at a slower pace. For example, if today I wanted to clean my room and I actually did it, I would be happy that I succeeded, even if on my list there was also a plan to clean the kitchen. This is also productivity in my eyes. But more than productivity, it’s my mind that is at peace because today I did something too. I receive satisfaction from doing my best every day. Also, the idea of productivity is relative and every person sees productivity in his/her own way. Thus, more important than trying to be as productive as other people are is to find what means productivity for you and to find your own way of doing it.

Today’s quote 2

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Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” – unknown

When studying Literature in school, a person that was in the autumn of life was an old person and a person in the winter of life was closer to death. Even people who don’t know a thing about literature know what autumn of life means: losing hope, the energy to live, the beauty… Thus autumn seems to bring a negative vibe, a pessimistic atmosphere, depression, regrets and death…

I loved autumn since I was a child. I loved its colors, its relaxed atmosphere, its smell, the falling leaves, its warm days. Everything! I have to admit that I became melancholic and I knew I would miss going outside, the trees, the colors, the fresh air. Autumn is not a season that takes the summer away from us. Autumn is change and change is usually good. Or we can make it that way. Autumn shows us that this is not the end, it shows us how to age beautifully. Autumn is all about accepting the you as you are now, letting go of your regrets and living at the fullest what is left. Because what is left might be your happiest time.

Hard times, our mentors in life

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If you look too deep into life, you will realize that sometimes life can be difficult. I am an overthinker and I analyze even small details. I am not proud of it because most of the times I overthink even everyday situations that makes me more stressed than I should actually be. But you see, looking deeper into life doesn’t always equate to overthinking. Sometimes you get to realize the essence of life and you get to know yourself better.

Everyone’s life got even more difficult because of the current situation and I was also affected. I had to make decisions that should have made my life easier but I don’t know if I succeeded. My social life suffered transformations too and I miss meeting people and traveling a lot. As I looked deeper and deeper I could only hear my sighs, I couldn’t even hear my thoughts as I would usually do. When this happens I panic and the unknown scares me even more. There are a lot of activities and projects I had to reschedule in an unknown and unpredictable future. But then I started having these thoughts: why think so much about the future when you can’t even predict what’s going to happen tomorrow? Why think about the things you have to give up on, the things you can’t do right now when there are a lot of other things you can do Now, even during these hard times.

Hard times are our teachers, our mentors in life. Humans have a powerful and beautiful skill: They can adapt to different and continuously changing situations. In these hard times the most important thing is to not give up. Every day is a new lesson for the future. Hard times make us more resilient and more creative. When things get more difficult for me, I try looking for other ways to do what I want to do, I become more creative, more frugal and I try to get more of the c’est la vie philosophy. When you cannot change the things around you, learn how to appreciate what you already have and don’t lose hope. Better days will come. Actually there is a theory I absolutely love and I apply it in almost every situation of my life. It’s Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Everything is temporary. There is no absolute hard times, no absolute good times. I believe that during hard times, us humans, we prepare the path for the good times. There are our efforts that flourish into the good times. It’s because we didn’t give up and we did our best that good times come again to us. This is also related to perspective, to how you take this kind of situations. It is important to adapt your perspective so you won’t be too affected by every change or problem that comes your way.

Knowing that nothing lasts forever, we can appreciate good times even more. We wait and hope for better to come when we have a difficult period to deal with. This is called balance. Becoming aware of all these unspoken rules can be of great help during difficult times. It will get better because it is hard now.

Today’s quote 1

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As it gets colder and colder everyday, the last warm days of autumn are even more precious and lovelier.

These days I’m so much into ASMR videos. The sound is soft and it helps me create a cozy atmosphere. I often listen to ASMR ambience while cooking, reading and even while writing. It helps me concentrate and I feel more relaxed and inspired at the same time.

Today, while listening to some ASMR ambience, I found a nice quote that suits my feelings about autumn and about these day’s weather: “Autumn… the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – John H. Bryant (Indian Summer)

Lessons I learnt from minimalism

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I talk a lot about minimalism because it really changed my life perspective. Even if I used to be a maximalist before, I was a very simple person. As I liked simple things, it’s almost like I was waiting to find minimalism and it’s nice to see that there is something that suits me so well. Other than that, minimalism taught me to appreciate more what I have now and even in the difficult moments of my life I believe that a better day will come. So minimalism is also related to optimism and faith, at least to me, and it works best in difficult moments. And now that I think about it better, it’s not wrong. Actually, in his book, Goodbye things, Fumio Sasaki says that one of the reasons many Japanese chose a simpler lifestyle is because of a catastrophe, the Great East Japan Earthquake, that affected so many people and made them change their perspective on life and their possessions.

Thus minimalism taught me as well about simplicity, about appreciating the present, about not caring about things, but caring about ourselves and the people we love. Minimalism is about reducing possessions in order to simplify our lives and have more time for the important things, more time for taking care of ourselves. There are too many things to do around the house anyway, so why make our job more difficult.

Another aspect related to minimalism that I really like is caring for the nature. I learnt about ecology in school and I really enjoyed participating in projects for environment protection. Thus, while practicing minimalism, step by step I started giving up on many chemical products (for example cleaning products, shower gels etc.) and I became more concerned about plastic use. I realized that many changes were not only good for the environment, but also for me, for my health and my finances.

Speaking of finances, minimalism can be used as a way of educating ourselves on how to do shopping. Like many other people, I used to buy a lot of unnecessary things that I thought were pretty or necessary to me. I remember that once I bought online a piece of clothing that promised to make me sweat and lose weight easier. I was foolish to believe all that marketing crap, but I gave it a chance and realized that it wasn’t working the way it was meant to. It was a foolish decision but I learnt that losing weight must be done by making more efforts, by adjusting my lifestyle and by doing the sport that I actually hated. Since then I must’ve bought other unnecessary things but at some point I started to question myself more often: you like it but do you really need it? Can’t you use what you have instead? Where are you going to place it? Are you going to use it for a long time? Is it a good quality product? I would also add the things that I want to buy on my shopping list and let them there for a few days or a week. If I still felt I need them after a few days then I would buy them, but I found myself removing a lot of objects from my list as I didn’t feel the urge of buying them. I would say to myself, I don’t need this, why did I put it on my list? It works well for me because we tend to buy based on the urge we feel at that moment, or because the marketing is so good and subtle in making us believe we need those things.

Actually we don’t need many of them and we can live just fine without all the stuff they sell on the internet or in those nicely organized stores. Buying things comes with a lot of responsibility: we spend money that we can use on something that we really need, we need more space for the things we buy, they might be thrown after a few uses, the waste they produce, we have more things to organize and clean. There are many aspects to take in consideration. I believe that minimalism is some sort of self-education. It’s easy to begin with, but it takes time to adjust your lifestyle to it and a lot of effort to maintain it for a long period of time. But once you get used to it you can’t live without it. This is what minimalism means to me.

And then I found minimalism

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It’s been a few months since I have decided to adapt my lifestyle to minimalism. Of course I cannot consider myself a minimalist, I am still so far away, and I believe that calling myself as such wouldn’t change so much. However, this is by far one of the best changes, one of the best decisions I made to bring myself to the next level.

I have to admit that I found out about minimalism quite recently, but I guess I was so busy with my chaotic life that I didn’t pay to much attention to this beautiful lifestyle. I like to believe that there is a right time for everything in our lives. Thus, it probably wasn’t the right time for me to get into minimalism at the time I found out about it. Even though I like the change I made, I don’t regret not making it earlier. I accept that my past experiences and my lifestyle were the catalyst for me choosing minimalism as a new way of living.

I used to be a maximalist. Being raised by maximalist parents, I loved to have a lot of things that even if I didn’t need immediately, they would be for sure necessary later. It is true, they came handy many times, but they would occupy a place for quiet a while in the attic for example, until their day came to be used. And when you buy/accumulate many things, you will only buy more things to organize what you already have. A vicious circle. Buying it’s like chocolate. It’s sweet, we love it, but it’s dangerous if we eat too much.


This was me. I loved buying and having many things as much as I loved chocolate (btw, now I even reduced to 90% the consume of chocolate). I was a true maximalist. I thought things would bring me satisfaction. I am not going to lie, buying things still gives me joy. I love buying online because it feels like I make myself presents. However, after I became an adult, I realized that things don’t bring happiness and even if they do, that happiness doesn’t even last 10 minutes. There are so many things I regret buying because some of them were not even used once. Buying things should only serve our needs. I realized that people buy often things just for the sake of buying something new, for trying to change their mood or their life. I used to do the same thing, but the truth is change doesn’t work that way. A change, or better said the will of a change that can help you grow will come most of the times from within yourself. Changing your mindset, your habits, your lifestyle, that is the change we must pursue.

I discovered minimalism while searching for answers, for solutions to live a better and a healthier lifestyle. I knew I wanted to lose weight but my mindset needed training first. Thus I began researching for methods to change my lifestyle, methods that would last and that would be easy to maintain for a long period of time. This is how I found out about famous minimalists like Marie Kondo and Fumio Sasaki. Because books and videos have a great impact on me, I started watching videos about minimalism and I even read books, the one with the biggest impact being Fumio Sasaki’s Goodbye, Things. I was fascinated about the things that I learned and soon I became addicted and started to experience this new lifestyle step by step. And this is the best way to approach something new in order to keep doing it. Changes are difficult anyway, so take it easy, you will get better step by step.

Minimalism changed me for the better. It changed the way I think, the way I act, the way I live. There are still a lot of things to discover and I know I am not very good at it, but if we think of minimalism as a way of living then it mustn’t be perfect. By giving your best and trying to live simply, respecting others and the nature, you are doing more than fine. Every time I talk about minimalism, I get so excited and I have so much to tell, but I end up saying so little. But I believe this is the pure essence of minimalism: saying more with less, doing more with less. When less is more, we become free to do more of the things we love. This is the life I want to live.