Tips for Waking Up Early

What to do to wake up earlier? How to make it into a habit? What could you do to make the adjustment as easy as possible?

I have become accustomed to a sleeping rhythm that makes me wake up naturally, without an alarm, in the early hours of the day. This has been one of the most pivotal reasons I get things done. I tend to have my most creative and productive moments in the mornings, and while I know it might not be so for everyone, I truly think there is something extremely helpful in waking up early. When you look at the habits of the most successful people out there, the majority of them seem to be waking up early.

Anyone who knows me will be very familiar with my tendency to wake up early. I was living with my best friend when we were 19 and she came to the kitchen at 6 am to find out the source of a weird rustling sound. Well, that was me, folding plastic bags sitting on the floor. My head is spinning with ideas when I wake up, sometimes the ideas are great, and sometimes, perhaps for the most part, not so much. But in any case, I wanted to share some ideas for how to start waking up more early!

I also managed to start waking up at 4 when I was working as a cleaner in my first year of university, just by using the tips I am about to share. Try them out and let me know if they help! Don't forget to share your tips for waking up early if you have any. And if you have any tips for staying up, I need them! I need to start adjusting to Guatemala's time zone, as it is 8 hours behind.

1. Go to bed early
This is an obvious one, but I really mean it. What helps me is to turn off my phone quite early in the evening. I try to grab a book instead of staring at screens (eliminating blue light). I have started leaving my phone in another room to charge so I won't be tempted to look at it near bedtime. I also try and avoid consuming caffeine after about 3 pm. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you could consider giving it up completely. My husband is more of a night owl, but he has been able to start waking up at 7 (sometimes at 5, when it is the football season) by doing this. He doesn't consume caffeinated drinks at night, goes to bed early and grabs a book. And while I fall asleep in a record time, his sleep takes longer to come, but it helps to be mindful about it.

2. Make small adjustments
I wouldn't recommend starting to wake up at 5 am cold turkey. Slowly adjusting to the changes is the best way to go, especially if you really want to make this a habit. This is what my husband has been doing lately, setting his alarm 15 minutes or so earlier than the day before and also going to bed a bit earlier each day.

3. Get up immediately
I don't use the snooze button, and you shouldn't either. Count to five and get up. What helps me is to have my outfit for the day in another room or something else that forces me to leave the bedroom, such as my phone charging in the office. After washing my face and changing my clothes I don't feel like going back to sleep. I also try and jot down a to-do list for the morning the day before, so I have a clear plan for what to do with my time. Often it is reading (one of the reasons I was able to read so many books) but lately I have been using this quiet time to write. It becomes routine-like very quickly.

4. Get some light
You might be able to wake up to the sun shining through and if that is a case, I am a bit jealous. The winter months in Finland are awfully dark, and as you can only see a glimpse of the sun at around 10 in the morning, there is a need for extra light. I use a light therapy lamp in the mornings. It helps with seasonal affective disorder (feeling blue when there is no light, which does not surprise me) and it helps me feel more awake.

5. Reward yourself
In this case, I think carrots work way better than sticks. You might be able to threaten yourself out of bed every once in a while, but it is not a good way to create a habit. I look forward to sipping my tea and reading a good book when it is all quiet and nice, I love the tranquility and it makes me feel accomplished. It really helps to notice how much you can get done and how you can get ahead just by waking up earlier, it is a reward in and of itself. I would recommend thinking of something you really like and doing it in the morning. 

Waking up earlier can be hard sometimes, and it is okay to sleep in and listen to your body every once in a while, especially on the weekends. I wouldn't recommend changing your sleeping rhythm too drastically and trying to stick to it in the weekends as well, but the most important thing is to stick with it. After reading a lot about habit formation, I have noticed how similar the steps are for creating any habit: planning, rewards, and consistency. 

Are there any habits you have been adopting recently? What is the hardest part about it and why do you want to make it a habit? At the moment, I am trying to start exercising more consistently, 4 times a week. The hardest part for me is that some days are harder than others. It takes some time and optimizing, but I know it can be done!

What to Pack for Guatemala

I am the kind of person who loves to plan and prepare, and although it can have some negative effects, for the most part, I really like this feature in me. It gets me in the mood for whatever it is I am doing, helps me stay organized and on top of things. I have almost certainly thought of everything in advance. I have been pinning stuff on my Guatemala board like a crazy person, and I am so hyped! We are going to stay up in the mountains, where it gets quite cold, but will also be traveling to amazing places where sweaters are not needed. I cannot wait for all the sunshine and adventures, and I am beyond excited to share all this in my blog! My husband and I will be going away for a full month so packing will be tricky. That is why I thought of sharing a list of things I am going to pack with me!

  • Hiking shoes
  • Sneakers
  • Loafers
  • Camisoles
  • Cardigans
  • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Sweaters
  • T-shirts
  • Blouses
  • Jeans (I own two pairs)
  • Skirts
  • Formal dresses (for celebrating our wedding & NYE)
  • Sportswear
  • Beachwear (I still need a hat, but we only have beanies at the stores here!)
  • Sleepwear
Toiletries & Beauty related stuff
  • Sunscreen
  • Dry shampoo
  • Shine spray (I love this!)
  • Moisturizer
  • Body lotion
  • My little makeup bag
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Deo & facial wipes & cleanser
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Epilator
  • My laptop (Need to write some essays over the holidays) & charger
  • Kindle
  • Phone & charger
  • Adapter
  • Power bank
  • Books
  • Notebook & pens
  • Travel journal
  • Lots of Finnish chocolates and sweets
  • Spicy Finnish mustard... (for P's brother)
  • Hairbrush & comb
  • Hair ties & bobby pins & clear elastics
  • ALL the gifts! (We will be celebrating some birthdays as well as Christmas)
  • Some local currency (I really really hope my debit card works, I don't own a credit card)

I might be missing something, but all this will already be hard to fit in the 50 pounds allowed. I try to pack lightly in general, but the gifts are going to make it hard this time & going away for a month is tricky, especially as I need to pack for different occasions and different weather. To get to the airport without freezing, I will have to bring my winter coat and boots as well, and those are pretty heavy, unfortunately. I also thought of taking all the necessities with me so I don't have to buy everything when I get there. I try to be mindful about everything I pack and make sure I can combine many outfits from just a few pieces. Wish me luck with all the packing, I am going to start this weekend as I'll head to another city to meet relatives before we leave! If you have any packing tips or ideas for what to add or to take away, I'd love to hear about it! I hope someone will find this helpful for their travels! Are you going to go somewhere for the holidays?

My Journey into Blogging

Why did I start a blog? What am I hoping to achieve? What's my driving force, mission, and purpose?

Prior to finally launching my blog, I had been dreaming about blogging for years. I had drafts ready, ideas for blog names and pictures ready, but I just never got around to actually start a blog. Until one day in November 2018, I just decided to go for it. I am not entirely sure what made me do it all of a sudden after putting it off for so long, but I think it could be a combination of having finished my reading challenge for the year and following a bunch of inspiring people on social media, in my case, mostly YouTube.

I woke up really early in the morning of the launch, got a template for Blogger from Etsy, got myself a domain name and started writing! My first 5 posts were articles I had already written in the hopes one day I would start a blog. I had already made a goal for 2019 to start my blog, but I kind of new I would just keep putting it off due to my perfectionism (I wrote a post about it here). Clicking the publish button on my first post was so so scary and exciting, I think I will never forget that feeling. I keep telling myself not to worry too much about the mistakes I make in the beginning because that is the only way to figure out the right things to do.

One reason for writing this post is to remind myself why I started whenever I feel low or demotivated. I know the beginning is hard and this is something that requires a lot of work and consistency. I have posted several articles, I think most of my traffic is just me checking how my blog looks, and I have no comments so far. The blog world is so saturated and it is difficult to stand out, but I love writing, I love reading long articles, and that is what I am going to do on my blog. My ultimate goal is to reach more people to create a platform for like-minded people to learn and grow together. That is going to take a while, but I don't mind. I am so excited just to be able to express myself, think of interesting ideas to write about and put myself out there. I am the kind of girl who never posts anything on social media, so this has been a huge step for me. If there is anyone out there reading and if you can relate, let me know. I know I am not the only one. I have decided not to let my fear of failure to stand on my way. I have amazing things coming up, and I can't wait to share them! I have big plans for where to go from here.

I am actually dumbfounded by how easy it was to create a functioning website. Granted, it is nothing exceptional, but hey, this is day 3 for my blog. In my mind, I imagined it to be way more difficult and time-consuming. I guess it is true what they say about just doing it. If anyone reading this can relate or has been starting a blog, I can honestly say the right time to start is now. Planning is good, but if you never put those plans into action, you are just wasting your time. This applies to everything in life, and I am going to make this blog an example for myself and for others of what it means to face your fears and give time for great things. I am so excited about seeing my blog getting visitors from several continents. When I first noticed someone had visited one of my posts (accessed with a browser I don't have, was how I knew it wasn't me) I got such a surge of energy and motivation. Now I know why some people track their followers so diligently on different platforms. The feeling of connecting with others is exciting!

I have always been telling people I like writing, yet I never wrote anything but essays and I certainly don't enjoy writing essays. Now that I've started writing consistently, I feel like I've found myself again. My phone is full of notes about things to write about, I jot down random ideas I get while running, listening to podcasts, reading or talking to other people. I make a mental note of expressions I like (especially important as I am writing in my second language) and try to read as extensively as I can to experiment with the style and structure. At the moment, I am taking several courses on Skillshare related to blogging, and I am so excited about learning new skills and applying them in practice. I wish I could somehow describe the determination I suddenly found. I am set on exploring every nook and cranny of the world of writing and content creation. I have started to believe there is something for everyone, some outlet of creativity and expression that you can find your passion in. All it takes is to start. I used to think everything I've said so far just doesn't include me, but I was wrong. I have a lot to share with others and my input can eventually inspire and help others. That is my driving force.

As said, writing is the most natural way for me to express myself, and that's why blogging was a great way for me to make it into an actual hobby. I am hoping to become more confident over time and perhaps try and make some videos, too. I look up to many content creators on YouTube and I admire the effort they put into what they are doing. Watching videos is a great way to learn and also to relax. Getting out of our comfort zones is what helps us improve, and that is why I will just write this little dream of mine out here to publicly share it, so I can't keep putting it off forever.

Do you have a similar story to mine? Is there something you are proud of doing despite all the fears? Let me know in the comments below ♡

What to Do to Prepare for a Long-Haul Flight

Long-haul flights can be exhausting and nerve-racking. In less than two weeks, I will be flying to Guatemala from Helsinki, Finland and I thought now would be a perfect time to write about my tips and tricks for long-haul flights to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. I know, long travel times are not fun and can cause dread in any of us, and that is exactly why I decided to tackle this topic, especially as I noticed that there is very little extensive information about the topic. So, let us get started!

Pack entertainment in various formats
Depending on the level of alertness, I tend to opt for different types of entertainment: sometimes I feel like reading a book, sometimes it has to be a podcast or an audiobook, a sudoku, a movie or just some uplifting or calming music. Don't rely on the in-flight entertainment, as it could be broken or there might be nothing you enjoy. Although, last year on our flight to Newark from Stockholm I had loads of fun playing chess against chess masters. I lost to a 7-year-old but oh well, at least I was keeping myself busy for some time.

Always an optimist, I also take with me some work but usually, I am too distracted or tired to get anything done. But the point is to have variety so you can do whatever it is you feel like doing. I am going to download some podcasts and music, probably also some audiobooks from Audible and a book if I get tired of screens or Kindle's battery runs out for some reason (it is very durable). This made me think of packing a power bank, and I had to stop writing and go put it next to my carry-on bag. One thing I like to do on flights is to write in my travel journal, it keeps me distracted and I like to have a record of the pre-travel excitement. It just gets me into a travel mood!

Choose what to wear in advance
Choosing your travel outfit helps you be prepared and less stressed and also plays an important role in the level of coziness you can experience on board. I go for comfiness over style, but I am jealous of everyone who manages to look stylish when traveling. For our flight to Guatemala, we are going to have a travel time of over 30 hours. There is no way I can put jeans on. I went and got a pair of high-waisted pants in a bigger size than I'd normally go for, and they are extremely comfy! I'll wear a white t-shirt and a cardigan and pack with me a blanket scarf and an extra pair of socks if I get cold. As we all know, sitting down for several hours is not good for us. Especially if you're on the pill, and even if you're not, I really really recommend getting flight (compression) socks. Also, remember to take a comfortable pair of shoes in case you have to run to catch your next plane. I wore heels once and it wasn't fun!

Consider investing in noise-canceling headphones
Buying noise-canceling headphones is something I've been thinking of doing for a long time. They would totally block out all the stressful plane noises and for those of us who fear flying, it would help with forgetting where you are. I know it is a bit of a splurge, but then again, they can be used in many different situations (I am thinking working and studying, mainly) and the increased productivity and the usability would make up for the price.

Arrive at the airport at the right time
I am the kind of person that shows up everywhere early. I need to be early to have time to adjust and to get myself mentally prepared for the flight. However, this is very individual and I am not saying everyone should show up early, but that it is a good idea to figure out what makes you comfortable, whether it is getting to the airport last minute or waiting there all night. If you are well prepared, have done your check-in online, packed your stuff according to the airline rules and don't forget your passport home, I think nowadays you don't need to show up quite as early as you used to. We are getting to the airport 1.5 hours before take-off. Getting through security is very fast at Helsinki airport, but we will see what's it going to be like on our way back.

Eat well beforehand & remember to take care of your basic needs in general
This helped me so much the last time I had a long flight. I become very irritated (just like most of us, I imagine) whenever my blood sugar drops, so I need to make sure I am eating well - especially as airplane cuisine is rarely commendable. Also, bringing snacks (salty is my go-to, especially as something happens to my taste buds up in the air) and a hand sanitizer is a must! Mine are from Bath & Body Works and they have saved me on multiple occasions. Besides, planes are a good place for catching a cold so it is worth it to try and prevent that.

I recommend packing a toothbrush, a toothpaste, and some facial wipes to feel as fresh as possible. If you want to sleep, pack a sleep mask. Talking of masks, I have seen many ladies with sheet masks on and I am planning to take one with me! It is an excellent way to help keep your skin moisturized, even if you might get some weird looks. And as a final note, related to the heading of this section: the cabin crew is there to help you, so if you need anything, do not hesitate to ask. I have asked for an extra pillow, water, tissues when my nose started bleeding... Flight attendants are angels, I love how caring and attentive they are, and we have to make use of that.


So, here are some of my tips for preparing for a long-haul flight, I really hope you found them helpful. This was a very unstructured, unplanned post but I wanted to share some ideas and hopefully help someone. Good luck to those of you flying soon. Tell me your destinations & unmentioned tips in the comments below! If you want to see pictures from my upcoming vacation in Guatemala, head over to Instagram (@choose_curiosity) and follow me to keep up.

Creative Ways to Make Money Part-Time

Our 20s are a time when there can be several commitments preventing us from taking on a full-time job. I am a really big fan of time-management and during my studies and working part-time, I have been able to find the time to try all of the tips I am going to list down below! I tried focusing on things that are easy to start, require no investments and are fun! I can't wait to hear what you think about them, so let us get started!

1. Babysitting
Maybe you would not call this very creative, but it is an easy one to ignore. Nowadays there are many services online you can sign up to get connected with parents in need of a babysitter. If your neighbor's baby is crying at night, maybe go ring their doorbell the next day and offer help. I am sure many parents would not mind spending some money to get some sleep. I got my babysitting jobs through friends (they recommended me to their relatives) and through my relatives. I think this is also a really good way to get started, as your acquaintances are going to trust you from the get-go. In my first year of university, I often stayed overnight with the kids and so, was able to basically get paid to sleep. Looking after kids can be so much fun, there are an endless amount of ways to spend the time and get to know the kids a little better. If you love children, this is going to be the EASIEST job ever. I have spent so many great moments with the kids, always learned something new and enjoyed myself. The fact that someone is willing to trust their kids with you is also a big plus on a resumé.

2. Pet-sitting
I cannot tell you how much fun I have had with this! I would totally do it for free, and have done, but when I heard about a service here in Finland that connects pet-owners to pet sitters, I went and signed up as fast as light. After filling out your profile and picking the services and price ranges, you can sit back and wait for messages. I have been pet-sitting at owners' places for the most part, but you can also offer to pet-sit at your own place and charge a little bit of extra money for that. The best part for me is to be able to spend time with animals, as at the moment getting a pet is not possible for me. All the funny things they do and all the love they share totally makes up for the occasional clean-up.

3. Selling unnecessary items
You might think you have nothing to sell, but I promise you when you examine items and think about when the last time you needed them was, heaps of things will come up! It is pretty simple to just snap a picture with your phone (make sure the lighting is good) and upload it on one of the several online marketplaces for used items. I would also make sure to share openly the possible flaws in the item, as well as the overall condition. I also try to measure all the products or put something next to them in the picture, so people can have a better idea about the size. Same goes with clothes: instead of just reporting the size on the tag, describe it in more detail. Was it a bit snugger than the size generally is? Or perhaps the opposite? The more information there is, the better.

4. Teaching a language online
You do not need to be bilingual or a polylingual in order to do this. There is a big demand for English as a second language, and with a computer, headset and a stable internet connection, you are set to go! I am not saying teaching a language is easy, but that there are learners of every level. Maybe for a start, it'll be easier to teach someone who is intermediate in the language you want to be teaching, this way you have a language to properly communicate in. A good thing about this is that although the beginning is tricky, you learn a lot of useful skills (communication skills, teaching, maybe some words of another language etc.) and you can work from anywhere and dictate your own working hours and amount of work. Maybe you can even get certified overtime!

5. Translation
Now, for this one, you actually need to know at least two languages to the extent where you can conduct research in both languages. Having studied translation, I found out professional translators almost always translate into their native language. This way, you don't need to actively know your target language: it is enough to understand grammar and to be able to search for words or phrases you don't know. My tips are to register to some of the translation websites out there and stating your rates clearly. Translation can be a lot of fun with all the problem solving and detective work you are going to be doing! Starting to translate takes a while, but once you find a few projects and get happy clients that will come back to you, it will get easier. Although I have taken many advanced courses in translation theory and will soon get my degree, the best way to learn translation is by doing it. I wholeheartedly recommend you try it, I never knew it would be something I enjoy but nowadays it really gets me into a state of flow.

Here you have it! These are the ways I have been able to earn some extra money while studying full-time. Have you worked part-time? I would love to hear from you readers! Please share any ideas or comments in the comment box below and help us all out. My dream is to make a platform for like-minded young women, where we could all share our ideas and support each other in meeting our goals!

Setting Goals for 2019

I recently completed one of my biggest goals for the year, reading 100 books in 2018. And I did it in 11 months. I wrote a post about how to read more if you're interested. Anyway, this inspired me to set goals for 2019 as well, considering how well I have been doing so far. Before the end of the year, I am going to post about my goals for 2019 to hopefully help you get inspired as well. But without further blabbering on my part, let's get to the topic:

Make a long long list of things you could imagine yourself doing for the next year. Don't be too specific or picky, the idea here is to plant all your thoughts on paper or your phone and then prune through the list. Pick goals that really inspire you and that you could see yourself being committed to for the next 365 days. I was actually surprised by what came up when I started listing things, maybe some of them were buried deep down in my subconscious mind - for example, I listed wanting to create a translation portfolio, something I did not even realize I might want to do. You could also ask for help from your loved ones with this, as they might remember better than you some of the things you keep talking about but never do. It is painful but sometimes necessary. I had to cross off things I am probably never going to do because it might not actually be what I want to be doing, but just something I felt like I should be doing.

Make sub-goals
Breaking goals into smaller units is a well-known way to help you accomplish your goals. I personally used GoodReads (if you're a member, let's be friends!!) for tracking my reading progress, and it helped an awful lot! Every time I logged in to add another book or to browse through the community, I could see my progress in the sidebar and it would let me know how many books I needed to read in a given week to keep up with the challenge. I can assure you, it is much nicer to tackle smaller bits (say, 1 book a week) than think of a pile of dozens of book you need to read. Less overwhelming, and you get more done! Numbers (for books to read, saving goals etc.) are easy to divide for each week, but if it is something harder to track, try to come up with realistic and doable sub-goals for the task. I am going to talk more about this in a future blog post about my goals for 2019, so stay tuned.

I have a love-hate relationship with committing. It can be extremely effective but painful at the same time. If you have never heard about a website called stickK, you should definitely check it out! The idea is to be committed to your goals by letting others know about your goals and setting a deadline for finishing them. You commit to a goal, put some money on the line and hello success! You can pick from a variety of anti-charities (charities where you would never be putting your money in) as a stick. Don't forget the carrots though, you should always celebrate success and reward yourself for finishing what you started! I have used stickK a few times with a 100% success rate, so if you are really struggling with following through with a task, I highly recommend the site! Another way to do this is to make an agreement with someone that you'll pay them a certain amount of money if you have not been able to stay consistent with whatever it is that you're doing. I plan to do this with my blog's posting schedule, I could give some money for my brother every time I neglect posting. Would that be a key to consistency? I think it would work, I need to meet my saving goals and I can't do that if I have to keep giving money to my brother!

Track progress
Tracking your progress is a key element to staying consistent and motivated! It is a good idea to schedule some reflection time each week (or however often you feel is necessary) just to look back at the past days and see what went well and what maybe didn't. This way you will be both motivated by the progress you've made so far, and also by adjusting your behavior based on the current situation. I had to do this when I was having a hard time keeping up with my reading challenge. At one point I was 9 books behind schedule, and I decided to start listening to audiobooks while commuting. This made a huge difference and helped me complete the challenge. I truly think success is about making little choices every day and switching bad habits to better ones slowly but surely - it takes time and dedication, but it is doable! Also, remember to optimize the tracking: it won't do any good to do it too often or too rarely, so based on your goal, estimate what would be a good frequency for progress check-ups. You can adjust this later, but this is something to consider while setting your goals.

From an abstract goal to a concrete one
One of the things that made it into my goals for 2019 was becoming more creative. Pretty abstract, right? It is hard to track, hard to put into your calendar and hard to break into sub-goals. That is why I wanted to try and develop a more concrete goal from this. I chose the area of creativity that I felt most passionate about, blogging,  and focused on that. I then created sub-goals for writing, photography and so on and started building up from there. I hope this illustrates how to take an abstract idea and make it into a clear, concrete goal that you can go after and achieve.

This concludes my post about goal setting! We have covered brainstorming, making sub-goals, committing, tracking progress and forming concrete goals. Do you have something to add to the list to help us all achieve our goals in the coming year? I would love to hear from you, so please share your ideas in the comment box below!

Overcoming Perfectionism

Perfectionism has been on the top of my mind for quite some time now, mostly related to the recent launch of my blog. Writing a blog is something I have been dreaming about for years. I finally got around to do this and I feel so energized, so happy, that I want to share with you how I came to overcome some of my perfectionist tendencies. Through mindfulness and reflection, it is possible to abandon perfectionism in the ways it does not serve you, and on the other hand, keep the aspects of striving for perfection that actually help you grow and stand out from others in a positive way!

Stop Planning, Take Action
I am a notorious planner: I have lists and notebooks for everything, to the point they have started to form clutter and confuse me. After 50 or so drafts for the first post on my blog, I very simply decided to just go and post my very first article on how to read more. It might not be perfect, but it is a start and I am so proud of myself. It feels liberating to give up nitpicking on the tiniest of details and just do it. I wanted to write a very dry pun about Nike but I contained myself.

Don't Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good
I forgot who to attribute this quote to (I googled and it is by Voltaire) but it is something I repeat to myself on a daily basis. I feel like I have wasted so many opportunities out of fear of ridicule or underperforming, and it hurts to say there have been many occasions when I did not even try. I have been amazed at the results as I have started to "settle" with less than perfect performances. My essay might not be Pulitzer worthy, but it definitely deserves a good grade. I have become so much more productive. So, all you perfectionists out there, please keep this quote in mind! It has a life-changing effect.

Get Help
And here I don't mean professional help, although that too could help (no shame in talking to a trusted & skilled professional). I refer to the help of those around you: by delegating tasks and asking for help, you don't get as overwhelmed by the number of things on your to-do list. It has taken me a while to realize that I am not needed to micromanage everything, in fact, it can be very very frustrating for others. Realizing this is especially helpful in a relationship: in our household, I do the cleaning and my husband does the cooking. This clear division of chores helps us keep on top of things, makes us more efficient and most importantly, we never fight about chores! I know social media creates pressure to be perfect at everything you set your mind to, but trust me, there is really no need to do that. It is actually impossible to be a master of all trades, and it is much better for yourself and those around you to focus on the things you are passionate about. Or good at. This is how I have been able to optimize most things in my life. It maybe can't be applied to everything, but delegating some of the things will definitely help you.

Change Your Perspective
I no longer try to aim for perfection. What has helped me is to look at whatever it is you've done or created from another person's perspective. If it is good enough for them, it should be good enough for you. I mean, how often do we judge other people's doings as harshly as our own? So, cut yourself some slack and give yourself some credit for the things you have accomplished. Whenever I feel stuck with my tasks, I take a bit of time off if possible, and when I come back to it, it suddenly seems much better than I initially thought. This also applies to selfies weirdly. Whenever I have had a selfie session, most of the pictures turn out pretty awful in my opinion. But when I scroll through my camera feed a few days or weeks later, I am suddenly much happier with the outcome. It also applies to essays, other types of school work, articles I write, translations and so on.

Give Yourself Enough Time
Scheduling enough (but not too much) time for my tasks has also helped tremendously. This one is a tricky one, because often perfectionists spend way too much time on the tasks, much of the time with the things of lesser priority, and end up underperforming and disappointed. I have overcome this (at least for the most part) by starting early. This allows me to live by the tip above, taking some time off of whatever it is I am doing. When I am stressed, my perfectionist lenses get stuck and I can't see any good in the things I do. After a good nights sleep, some breakfast and maybe a cup of tea everything seems to have much more potential and I see the good in my work. This also helps with correcting some tiny misspellings or other mini mistakes in your work, which is an added bonus for a perfectionist trying to create and get things done.

This post became somewhat mixed, but I got into a flow when writing and decided to follow my own advice with getting things done. It might not be a perfect, all-encompassing list of tips, but it includes really good advice that has worked for me personally and hopefully can inspire some of you guys. If you have any tips or tricks for overcoming perfectionism, share them below. I would also love to hear which of these tips you found helpful and what would you maybe disagree on? 

How to Stay Warm and Still Look Stylish

It gets awfully cold here in Finland for several months in the winter and sometimes we need to sacrifice style (looking like bulky snowmen) to stay warm - or do the opposite and get our feet frozen. I have been researching this topic for quite some time now and feel confident in sharing some tips for how to stay warm while looking stylish. It is a trial and error type of a thing, but doable if you focus on the right things.

Wear layers
At the risk of sounding Mrs. Obvious, I have to stress this because wearing layers is one of the best ways to stay warm outside. It is also a great tip for going to the mall (or anywhere where it is warm) in the winter: being able to peel off some of the layers is much needed, we definitely do not want to get sweaty. I recommend thin layers: stockings under the pants and thermal layers. I have thermal stockings and a thermal long sleeved shirt I got from Walmart and they work perfectly well and do not make me look bulky. I can wear jeans on top of stockings and cute sweaters on top of the thermal layers. It also helps in another way: no need to wash your clothes quite as often when the layers underneath protect the clothes.

Wear a long coat
I go with a long coat that covers my butt and keeps my legs warm. Ideally, this coat should be tied at the waist with a belt, just to accentuate your figure and again preventing the bulkiness. The coat I am using stays close to my skin and keeps me insulated. For extremely cold weathers, I would recommend getting a coat with a zipper rather than buttons, as in my experience cold wind finds its way through buttonholes.

Wear wool and cashmere
I normally go for the cheapest (preferably second hand) items, but polyester does not keep you warm. A few months ago I managed to find a navy blue cashmere sweater for half the original price and I am still so excited. This year I did not have to worry about it getting cold, because I have been armed with wool sweaters (pro tip: wear a thermal layer underneath so it won't get ticklish) and my beloved cashmere addition.

Get a big enough bag to fit your beanie and gloves in
I have lost countless gloves, scarves, and beanies when I have neglected this piece of advice. It is not very practical to carry all these in your hands and something is almost bound to get lost. It literally hurts when it happens, it is no fun walking home with just one glove, hands freezing. In a bigger bag, you can also store an extra layer or a pair of socks to change if snow gets into your boots - this has happened to me countless of times and I really really would have needed a dry pair of socks to keep warm! Proper preparation is necessary during all the winter months.

+ Tip: Stay warm by drinking hot beverages: my favorites are hot cocoa and a steaming cup of glögg, a traditional mulled wine common to every Nordic country. It is spicy, tasty & comes with or without alcohol!

How to Make Your Legs Appear Longer

As a short-legged person (with a long torso) I often go through times of extreme frustration, mostly happening while shopping for jeans. I myself have googled furiously for different tips, but there are not that many out there, so I decided to share some of the tips and tricks I have developed so far. What to do to look more balanced?

#1 Wear high-waisted everything
I used to despise high-waisted pieces of clothing, but in my defense, it was before I knew any better! Nowadays I almost always go for a high-waist type of jeans or skirts. And this goes almost without saying: avoid low-waisted pieces of clothing like plague. It has the opposite effect.

#2 Tuck in your shirt
This is a great tip for creating the illusion of longer legs. It makes you look immediately more balanced. (This just gave me the idea to make a more detailed post with pictures to illustrate.) I swear by this, try it and see what a difference it makes! It also flatters people with a smaller waist, bringing forth some curves!

#3 Wear A-lined dresses and skirts
I love love love A-lined everything! They look so flattering for this build. It blurs the lines so to say, meaning it is harder to tell where legs start (making people think they start higher) and thus, makes it perfect for making your legs appear longer and your body more balanced!

#4 Nude shoes
I read this tip somewhere recently and I am yet to incorporate it, but I totally get what this is about: an illusion. Wearing nude shoes will make your legs appear longer and you can tell the difference between wearing a nude (as in, close to your skin color) heel as opposed to black, for example! For this to work though, you need to be wearing something that exposes some leg to begin with.

#5 Matching shoes with your pants or stockings
Tip number five is related to the earlier one, just that you need to try and match the color of your shoes with the color of your pants or your stockings. For example, wearing black stockings with black heels creates the illusion of longer legs by making one, continuous line. I love it!

If you have something to add to the list of tricks, please share them in the comments below!

Saving for a Down Payment

For as long as I can remember, one of the biggest dreams of mine has been buying a house. When I turned 18, I created an account specifically for that purpose. In Finland, you can save money into an ASP account with a higher interest rate for the first two years. Once you have at least 10% of the price of the home saved, your bank will lend you the remaining amount. You get an additional 4% interest for the next 6 years. Sounds great, right? At the age of 18, I started saving €50 a month and have been at it ever since. Even without the additional interest rate, this would be a great way to save for a down payment if you start early enough.

The only downside is that you are only able to buy a house from Finland, which is a pity considering I am on the market for a house in the US. In any case, I think our government-backed loans and the general mindset related to buying a home in Finland is something that people from other countries could learn from.

#1 Start now
I realize not all of us start saving young, and for many people that would simply seem impossible. I get that. What matters is that you start immediately, even if the monthly contribution would be small. Starting early means you do not have to be quite as frugal for as long. A little less stress is worth the hassle of going and opening a savings account for a down payment. + A designated savings account for a home is extremely motivating, as you can easily track your progress. An automated transfer is the best way to save almost unknowingly.

#2 Live below your means
This might seem like an obvious one, but it really makes a difference. Living from paycheck to paycheck will not leave room for saving. For some extra motivation, you could calculate how much money you spend on rent annually. All that is money that could be used for paying your loan. Finns are not nearly as debt-ridden as Americans. Only use a debit card (or use your credit card as a debit card) and do not be swayed into overspending.

#3 Be realistic
Your first home does not have to be perfect. Do not shoot for the moon. After you have managed to save for a down payment, you will need to start paying off the mortgage. This must be considered in your budget, in the size of your loan etc. Banks would be glad to lend you as much as humanly possible, but it does not mean you have to go with it.

#4 Stay motivated
Saving money comes down to being patient. The hardest part is to keep at it and to remember why you started in the first place. For me, it helps to visualize my future home and the amazing feeling that accompanies having secured a corner of the Earth just for myself. I often go to Pinterest for some extra inspiration when times are difficult.

#5 Start a side hustle
This might seem a bit out of place but please bear with me! I am sure we can all think of ways to spend extra money into things that have nothing to do with saving. However, think of it this way: creating a side hustle and saving your earnings for the down payment will give you more motivation. Firstly, you have a reason to work harder: you have a clear goal to work towards. This will help you with keeping at it, both saving and working on a side hustle require a lot of patience and perseverance. It is a win-win!

How to Read More

One of my goals for this year was to read 100 books by the end of 2018. At the time of writing this (November), I have finished early. How have I managed to do this while studying full-time and working part-time? Let me tell you!

#1 Listen to Audiobooks
Listening to audiobooks has had the biggest impact on my reading habits as of late. I did not read nearly as much as I do now. I listen to audiobooks on Audible as well as through my city library. You can listen to books while commuting, traveling, walking, cleaning – even in bed! This is a great way to make the most out of your time and make progress with your reading goals.

#2 Get an E-Reader
To be quite honest, I do not own an e-reader, it is my husband’s. I stole that ancient Kindle for myself and have been getting his money’s worth. But do not worry, he can use his tablet for the same purpose. And so could you, if you are not easily distracted by other apps on the tablet (or any other device). The Kindle app can be accessed through a computer, your smartphone, iPad etc. I find having a Kindle is the best fit for me: it has a great battery life, it does not hurt my eyes, it is light to carry and has saved me from many dull moments. I have been considering getting a new Kindle or an equivalent e-reader just to have one that is my own, so if you have any recommendations, let me know!

#3 Make use of libraries
I am fortunate enough to have access to the city library and the endless shelves of my university’s library. At a library, the options are endless, and you do not have to spend any money! Works well with minimalism and does not make moving a pain. Additionally, reading in a library is very atmospheric and inspiring. It is easy to focus in a silent space and being surrounded by so much knowledge just puts me to the mood to read.

#4 Use GoodReads
Using GoodReads is an incredible way to stay motivated. Setting my reading goal for the year was so exciting, and tracking it is even more so. GoodReads is also a great platform for getting recommendations, reviews and even a new community! This is a great way to get to know new people or connect with your friends on a different level. GoodReads accounts have sparked many fascinating conversations among my friends and although I am not very competitive, seeing my friends’ activities and books read really makes me want to grab a book. I get very motivated seeing people with thousands of books listed on their profiles: one day that’ll be me!