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Ariana Albano

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It wasn’t until recently that I started working from home again – what a relief – and since I don’t spend so much time on the daily commute, I found myself with extra hours that I could use to tidy up my home and get a taste of that not-so-strict minimalistic kind of life I love.

Why have I decided to start living a bit more minimal? The answer is simple: simpler life, simpler choices and way less to clean. Throughout my research, I have not come across any downsides in quality over making these choices.

Let me share a handful of reasons to leading a more minimalistic life and how it can improve yours:

DISCLAIMER: This post includes affiliate links, meaning, at not additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

SIMPLER LIFE

The less you own, the less time you spend cleaning or distracting yourself. Discard what weighs you down, keep only that which brings value and is useful to you, and then make it your own.

Simplifying your life is not as hard as it sounds. You can always start with the basics – wardrobe, shoes, accessories, pantry, apps on your phone, electronics, you name it! There are so many different ways to start simplifying your life right now, don’t just wait until Monday to start. Do it now!

MORE FREEDOM, MORE TIME!

You’ll soon realize the amount of time you saved once you cut back on that which you don’t really need. You can then repurpose your attention on things you actually enjoy.

Less time cooking elaborate meals or cleaning around your house, more time handcrafting or dusting off that camera.

YOU’LL SAVE MONEY

This is probably by far everyone’s favourite.

Once you start being more mindful about things that you really need instead of going on shopping sprees, money will pile up. Besides, the less you have, the less money you need for maintenance or replacements.

Pssst! Forget those random items I’m sure you don’t need. Curve your impulses and watch your money grow. I know it sounds pretty obvious, but this is one of those things we fall prey to every single time, myself included. Am I right?

DECLUTTERING FEELS GREAT

It does! Do it right now! Pick up your socks, your used coffee cups or your pile of laundry.

The more you declutter, the more space you’ll free up, the more you’ll be able to breathe a little easier, and the better you’ll feel. And let’s be honest, a tidy home looks much better.

In just a couple of hours, I managed to declutter an entire room dedicated to my cats, which now serves as my office. The number of things I threw out and gave away was just insane. But it did feel great!

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS

What I love about the minimalistic space in my office right now, is that the less I have around me, the less my mind wanders. It adds so much needed focus without much effort. Lifestyle hack right here!

Even with a tidy room, there will still be distractions. In writing this blog, my cats found ways to steal my attention, as cats often do. Lock the office door, ask Alexa to play some relaxing sounds, and let your creativity take over. Keep those pesky furballs away, at least for a little while.

IN THE END…

It doesn’t really matter. But it does!

Becoming a minimalist is not a competition. It can be a recurring quest, at which you’ll become faster and better very quickly. It’s all about putting yourself in the right state of mind, and the easiest way to do that is through self-organizing and tidying it. It’s a neat little superpower everyone has. And it works!

As a wise bear once said: Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities. It’s time to take that wisdom to heart.

Do you have any tips? Don’t be shy, I’d love to hear what you have to say.



Little commute, comfy pyjamas, having your furry friend next to you at all times, no make-up and hair in a messy bun. These are some of the many perks that you benefit from when you work from home, whether it’s your own business or you work for a remote company – it’s all the same!

Isn’t It amazing to be up and running in 10 minutes, grab your coffee and your laptop, and just dive straight into work? Although, there are some minor drawbacks not many people mention.

You can easily mute colleague distractions, video calls and can schedule most meetings. But there are new challenges to overcome, from a more personal corner: your Social Media, family members, furry ones included!

Let me share with you the biggest challenge: not knowing when to stop working!

I’m more the type of person who loves the tranquility and the commodity of my home. I prefer the silence over the bustling noise of a busy office, and I love having a flexible schedule, working at my own pace – that’s where I’m most productive. If you are anything like me, well do I have some news for you!

Working from home for the past 5 years has taught me a lot. I got the job done in the most productive and creative ways, I’ve separated work and family life, and ate a lot of pizza, because pizza is life and fuel for your mind! Here’s my small but extremely productive list:

DISCLAIMER: This post may contain links to external websites that are not provided or maintained by or in any way affiliated with Ariana Albano. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of any commission.

1. Manage your time

You now how they say that time is money right? Well that’s double true when working from home. My advice? Find the best time for when you’re most productive. For most people, it’s between 8am and 2pm.

I start the day by creating a checklist with things that I need to do at work and at home. There are many apps that can help you get yourself organised during the day and best of all, they’re free!

These are my two favourite + bonus:

  • Google Calendar is probably my favourite, I can add tasks to specific times and I usually share this with my husband so he knows when to not disturb me or what are the plans for the day. It goes the other way around as well since we both work from home.
  • Trello is also another alternative to creating boards and lists that you can mark as done once they have been completed. This app also has the option to add more people to your boards.
  • Printable schedules for those who are more old school and guess what, I will provide you with a free daily planner that includes all the necessary items to help you stay organised. All you need to do is subscribe to my blog!

2. Find a proper workplace

Yeah, sure, working remotely allows you to work whenever, and wherever you want to. What you need, is that one special place that fine tunes your brain to think “OK, now I’m working”. Though there’s nothing wrong to change your location from the desk, to the couch, to the bedroom or kitchen. As long as you have that special place already mapped out that you can fall in for serious work when you need to.

Find or create a clean and quiet space; put a “DND” sign outside the door if you have to.

Maybe you need to make a compromise and make do with small corner in a room. That’s great as well, as long as you own it! Customize your area, decorate it, add or remove anything that doesn’t help that state of mind you’re looking for. In my case, I keep my oldest cat with me, and kick out the younger ones as they’re very hyperactive. I find the presence of my eldest cat to be very comforting while I brainstorm ideas.

3. Create a habit

Best advice I’ve ever gotten. Create the habit that will create your reality. Feed that habit, nurture it, and everything will fall into place without too much effort.

Make sure that you identify the time or times when you are more productive and work your day around it. Remember that creating a habit won’t happen overnight, on the average it can take up to 2 months or more before your body and mind adjust to it, accept it, and work with it.

4. Don’t forget to take breaks!

It’s so easy to get drawn into work! It’s not healthy and definitely not sustainable in the long run. So there’s a definite need for self-regulation. Take frequent breaks to let your brain vent, and let it focus on solutions in its downtime.

Don’t forget to eat, stretch, and show some love to your furry family members!

One of the best ways for you to know when to take breaks is by using the Pomodoro Technique. There are many apps that you can set on your phone and on your laptop/PC or you can just as easily use your phone alarms if you want to be in more control over your time.

5. Stop working when the day is done

Just…STOP! For real! It can be difficult to disconnect. Worst case scenario, take a walk around the block three times so your brain understands that you’re home now. Working from home can blur those work-life balance barriers pretty good.

I’ve worked for a remote company where we were constantly plugged into the company’s email and Hangouts group chats. It’s so easy to get lost in reading even during your off hours, especially since you’re having great relationships with coworkers.

Key takeaway? When your work day is done, it’s done. No peeking at emails or chat, no responding out of office hours, none of that. Trust me, your brain will thank me later. Set up the proper expectations and follow through.

6. Lastly, reward yourself!

That’s right. Don’t forget to show yourself some love. There’s no one at home to pat you on your back for your work accomplishments – no coworkers, bosses or clients. So order some sushi!

Play some video games, watch some Netflix, read that book you cannot wait to finish, spend time with your family, play with your pets, go out. Whatever it is that you decide to do, remember to reward yourself.

Remember that with some organising and prioritising, you can accomplish more in a more efficient way without feeling overwhelmed or underachieved. Needless to say, welcome to the pyjama working club!

You will love it around here.

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Long-distance relationships (LDR) have grown to be more common over the past several years with over 14 million couples finding themselves in one.  Moreover, LDR’s seem to be increasingly fitting to our modern lifestyles of college, military deployment, business or job relocation and online dating success. Modern technology has bridged the gap bringing us even closer, allowing us to be with our loved ones regardless of what timezone they might temporarily reside in.

There are challenges to overcome: things can get tricky and it won’t always be rainbows and sunshine —  just like any other relationship. Here are five of the top topics I wish I knew when I started my long distance relationship:

1. Set proper Expectations

Having clear-cut expectations can minimize a lot of tension and unnecessary worry in the long run. It can be a bridge that builds and maintains trust at all times, and it’s a necessary measure that you will naturally grow dependent on.

If you can’t answer a message or call as can sometimes happen — life gets in the way — be sure to let your loved one know in advance. What time do you have to go to school or work, how long will you be gone for, how long it takes for you to get back — these are all details which in a LDR, are extremely crucial.

Be descriptive, provide details and let it become a habit. There will be missed calls, unanswered texts, “seen” messages which can be super frustrating in an LDR, but guess what – they are to be expected.

2. Communication is EVERYTHING.

LDR’s have been found to be better at communication compared to traditional couples. In study titled “Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder,” psychologists tell us that not only do LDRs have more meaningful communication and interaction on a more frequent basis, but they are more open in discussing deeper issues and topics: love, sex and life.

There are so many ways to keep in touch: Skype, Facebook, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Telegram and many others come in handy to maintain communication throughout the day.

It may be difficult at times, especially if you live in different time zones or if you both have a busy schedule. Although, just by sending them an unexpected small message, a photo, sharing a location, even a funny meme you thought they may like is a form of communication to let them know that you’re always thinking of him/her.

Just make sure to schedule some time together during your free time, write down anything important you will want to share when you get to spend time for long conversations or you can even watch movies together (I can talk with plenty of experience on this topic), play video games or even plan a date night and set up the mood for it.

3. Things may get boring and that’s OK.

Let’s be honest, this happens to every relationship. Things can get stale and slow, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you or your LDR. Like I said before, it’s not always rainbows and sunshine. Maybe nothing exciting happened during the day or week worth chatting about, or maybe you’re both tired and fell asleep during your Skype calls.

There are downtimes to be expected and that is normal. Remember, there are only so many things you can do over the internet. You can always break the monotony by trying new things, re-discovering old things, and it can serve as fuel to bring you two closer together for a visit sooner than later.

The key is to remain honest and share your thoughts, feelings and mood with your partner.

4. It can be expensive.

Whether you plan on having frequent visits or you’re sending each other presents, these are things that will involve spending money. Plane tickets, gas bills, hotels may take a big chunk out of your paycheck, so plan appropriately — together.

Get a card from an airline that allows you to accumulate miles, save up money in advance for gas and also for those presents on special occasions.

If you are in a situation similar to mine, where I had to move to another continent and a strange new country, plan everything down to the most minute detail.

5. Plan the Future.

I’m sure none of you will be entirely happy staring at a screen for the rest of your lives, therefore you must plan. Like Eisenhower said: “…plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Talk about the future, cooperate and mutually agree on every detail — together.

In my case, I had to deal with a Lovecraftian horror amount of paperwork, bureaucracy and approvals. Granted, it would have gone much smoother if we planned it out better from the beginning as opposed to making it up as we went, but it did work out in the end. I’m talking about the quest of receiving a student visa after university enrollment has closed, having to drive to and from Bulgaria several times in hopes for a temporary visa, gathering the necessary documents with minimal to no instructions, and more — but that’s another story for another post.

Avoid the hassle by knowing what you’re getting yourself into, knowing the rules of the land, the requirements of the state/province or country you will visit or move to.

These are my top tips for my fellow LDR couples. Stay consistent, be honest and work through challenges as they arise. Distance can buffer out many sharp edges and allows you to explore your partner and the relationship itself in detail, making for a more healthy and fruitful long-term relationship once distance is taken out of the equation.

What are your thoughts, experiences? Let me know in the comments! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Woohoo! It’s done! 2019 arrived and brought with it new hopes, goals, and aspirations. I imagine most of you are buried neck deep into work already, and you’re not alone – I started the year with a BOOM! Ah, 2019! Let’s not forget about the “new” list of New Year resolutions we made for ourselves. If you’re anything like me, that resolution list is a crude laundry list of wishful thinking save for a few achievable and realistic goals that may get done.

I want to share with you what I’ve been doing wrong in the past year and how I crossed off many proposed goals off my New Year’s Resolution laundry list—in a few simple steps.

DISCLAIMER: This post may contain links to external websites that are not provided or maintained by or in any way affiliated with Ariana Albano. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of any commission.

Be Realistic

Make sure you pick realistic goals. Think in terms of things you can accomplish for certain within the timeframe of these brand new 365 days.

Break down BIG goals in SMALLER fragments

Rome wasn’t built in a day – yeah, yeah. Take one step at a time, and sure enough, you will get there. I love tackling larger goals, simply because they look imposing and difficult to get, and I love a good challenge!

The obvious benefit is when you find yourself accomplishing all these baby goals, it will keep you motivated and your eyes on the prize until you complete the BIG goal.

Stick to a Calendar

The use of a calendar will provide a bird’s eye perspective of your plan and progress and will keep that DEADLINE in view! This is very important and one of the many reasons why most of our lists fail. We often write down what we wish to do this year, but we don’t set a deadline and we hope that the universe will just align for us. It will but only if you make it happen. Set a date and work hard to accomplish your goal before or until that day arrives.

Google Calendar is the simplest and easiest to use, and you can always share it with your significant other (or anyone else for that matter). Create individual calendars for your specific goals – if you are super detail oriented and that way, you can also disable calendars for a better view whenever you need to.

Outlook calendar is another excellent choice. There are tons of Calendar apps you can use, but I found the simple, the better, and therefore have stuck with the Google Calendar for my work to date.

Having a plan is pointless but planning is essential

Or so the saying goes. A planner will keep you organized and efficient. Personally, I don’t write down the specific times – the start and end times of a specific activity. I keep it very simple; I only list the items I want to tackle during the day. WHEN I do that, it’s entirely up to my discretion, as long as it gets done. And it does.

I’m a gamer, so my perspective changes to my benefit. I see my tasks as side quests and actions that lead to greater achievements. Think World of Warcraft Achievement System or Steam badges. Completing tasks in this mindset can be very satisfying. After all, no quest can be marked complete without a good amount of GRINDING!

On that note, there are some sweet apps to help keep your GRIND have that RPG feel in real life.

Here’s two that I like:

·  Epic Win website Android Apple

·  Habitica website Android Apple

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

You can elaborate on all the action steps required to attain any goal imaginable, but it can all become useless very quickly if you don’t exercise consistency. It doesn’t matter if you fail – struggle and failure are part of the ecosystem of creation. There is much to learn from both. The important thing is that you need to remain consistent.

Even 10 minutes a day – if that’s all you can invest – is progress that can be classified as consistency.

So, deviate from excuses. Focus on your action steps. Stay on track even if that means a few minutes a day. Every small progress is still progress.

Checklist Goodies

If you’re a checklist maniac, check out this helpful collection from The Power Five Zone book:

· The Power Five Zone Cheat Sheets

· The Power Plan and Achievement 1:3:5:7 Example

· The Achieve 1:3:5:7 Template

·  The 7 Day Disconnect Challenge Checklist!

My 2019 Resolution

·  Cook at home more often – my wallet will thank me.

·  Learn a new language (German) – because I like how they say SCHMETTERLING!

·  Visit a new country – as opposed to not visiting a new country.

·  Take at least 2 road trips – everyone deserves an escapade occasionally.

·  Read 10 books – food for the mind.

Short, easy and straight to the point. Now it’s just a matter of organizing my calendar and I’m good to go.

Want to share your 2019 goals? Let me know in the comments below!