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Mandy Lutman

A Severe Case of.. Writer's Block

A Severe Case of.. Writer’s Block

I haven’t written anything for months. The thought that NaNoWriMo is a little bit over a month away is scary. Also, HOW is it already the end of July?

So how does one get over writer’s block? I feel like I fell off the tracks and I have no idea how to put it into words.

It all started… well, it never really started. I used to be good at writing. The whole ‘show don’t tell’ I got drilled in me during my Creative Writing degree stayed with me for years after and I obeyed it without fail.

Truth be told, I lost my words. My fingers just won’t move across my keyboard the way I want them to. Words aren’t coming out as descriptive, as flowy, and as telling as I’d want them to. Nothing makes sense. My stories are weak, my scenes have holes, my places aren’t

My mind is a huge mess that just can’t be solved. Kind of like those headphones you neatly put in your bag only to find they’ve somehow managed to tangle themselves up. Can’t I just buy a new mind? It seems like only one side of my brain is actually working and it’s definitely not the creative side.

It’s not just words – I lost my story. What am I supposed to write about? I recently read some of the most amazing pieces from people who went on amazing adventures.

“Write what you know.” – and if I don’t, can I learn? Or do I have to know it from the beginning?

It’s a severe case of writer’s block and I can’t get out of it. But I’m still writing. That’s good… right?

And I’m so confused by what Shark Week actually is (apart from the obvious metaphorical term).

Living on Santorini, Santorini

My Life on Santorini

My life on Santorini started with the arrival on the world’s infamous Santorini airport most people have a hate relationship with (there’s no love). I had no idea how long I was going to stay. I didn’t have a return ticket. All I had was a hope I’ll be able to find an apartment and make this my home. But more on that later. Stepping out of that plane felt much weirder than the first time I came to this island. Perhaps it was because this time, I was staying for a much longer time. Or maybe it was because I didn’t have a decent sleep for about 48 hours because I stupidly decided to spend the night at the airport.

I was greeted by my landlady’s husband. He was shy, didn’t say much, but left me babbling away about how excited I was to come to the island. It was late February and we were driving along the bumpy streets of the island, passing by the occasional donkeys, with the ocean’s view always following us in the distance. My heart was buzzing – I just moved to Santorini.

My life on Santorini

“Καλώς Ορίσατε!” My landlady greeted me at the door of her hotel, Sweet Home. It’s located in Karterados, in the back street, but just a 10-minute walk from the main town, Fira. Karterados is a local place – although it’s full of hotels, it’s a town that’s usually reserved by travelers who know how to find secret gems. It’s reserved for those who find the luxury of Oia a bit too much, and the bustling noise of Fira too overwhelming. Karterados, with its local atmosphere, terrible traffic, and the best bakery on the island, is a perfection you’ll miss out on if you decide to visit this island at the last minute. As a bonus point, it’s pretty cheap – my beautiful studio was available for €18 per night.

The studio itself was a typical living space you’d get on Santorini. Stone walls, a double and a single bed, a wardrobe, a desk, small kitchenette, and a bathroom. All basic utilities were available, and the internet would work if I sat at a certain spot or worked from outside. That’s all I really needed.

The first few days were still a blur of adjustments. From dealing with Greek food (which I love, but it took a while before my stomach was able to handle such heavy food), to the brand new language, and the fact that this will be my home for 3 months. It took a while, but the Greek life came to me very naturally.

My life on Santorini

I’d be in Fira by 10AM every single morning. The beauty of Santorini in February is that the entire island is eerily quiet and only the best of the best are open for business. You won’t find any fancy restaurants or anyone who is able to earn enough money over the course of 4 summer months. Instead, you’ll find businesses by real locals, who can’t help but be open almost all year round because that’s their main source of income. And those are the businesses I appreciated the most.

One of my almost daily stops was Lucky’s – a gyros shop, located just above Fira’s bus stop, right in front of the square. The place has some of the best and arguably the cheapest gyros in town, and the owner of the shop knows it. Lucky is one of those people you can’t help but strike a conversation with, despite his slightly irritating flirty voice, and the fact he’s hardly listening to a word you say. “I finish at 12, I’d love to see you after dark,” would usually never make me come back to a place, but his food is so good he’s totally allowed to use terrible pickup lines (he never saw me after dark). 

My life on Santorini

Another all-year-rounder on the menu is the Solo Gelato, where I usually got some ice cream and a coffee to go before I headed back to the apartment.

And that’s what I did all this time. Having the opportunity to see the island prepare for the summer season has been incredibly eye-opening and rewarding. From chefs and bartenders, who told me they never get a day off during the summer, to hotel owners who got negative reviews over salty water coming from the taps (totally normal on the entire island). I got to experience something most can’t.

The truth is, the life on the island isn’t at all idyllic. Even Oia hotel owners get frustrated with tourists who have no respect for the buildings and climb on rooftops to take a picture of a sunset. Those rooftops took a whole week to paint, and a lot longer to build. Apartments are hard to come by, and sometimes even Santorini’s teachers are forced to camp instead of being able to rent their own flat. I overheard many Greeks complaining about Santorini’s housing situation, and many are waiting for the tax authorities to tackle the illegal hotels and make room for regular long-term housing. Will it happen? Probably not, this is Greece after all. 

My life on Santorini

Santorini has a distinctive smell of fresh paint in April. Most hotel owners will arrive at the island by now, even though the actual tourist season doesn’t begin until May. May on the island is known as the rainy season, and the people are always on a time limit when it comes to painting their houses and making them look presentable. Photography is a big way Santorini is marketed as the best place on Earth. Why do they paint every year? Because their winters are so rough, the heavenly blue you see gets chipped off very easily. The bright blue that Santorini is known for only comes alive during the summer.

During April, the island starts to change. It’s no longer peacefully quiet – things are in full swing. There’s noise, and there are locals greeting each other and getting excited about another summer season. Donkeys, who really shouldn’t be doing such work, carry heavy objects through the square and occasionally block your way on the stairs. Their heavy objects will later be replaced by people. It’s a neverending job in terrible heat that only ends with a toss over a cliff, or at the Santorini animal shelter. To hear these stories, you need to come to Santorini during the offseason, when people are much more relaxed and willing to open up about their own experiences on the island. 

My life on Santorini

Living on Santorini during the offseason gives a completely different vibe to the island. Everything is a lot more peaceful, sunsets are a lot more magical, and beaches are practically empty. The closest beach to my hotel was Karterados beach, about a 40-minute walk away. I’d usually rent a bike and spent some time on the empty beach, where the sound of the waves was all you could hear. The weather was just good enough to walk around barefoot and occasionally dip your feet in the ocean, but that’s all I really needed.

I admire people who stay on the island all year round. It’s rare, and not even the die-hard Santorini lovers go for this option. People come to this island for money. Luxury. The sunset side of the island. Many tourists, especially those who only come for 2 days and spend all their time in Oia, don’t get to experience the true life on the island. If they would, perhaps they’d stop spending money at luxury hotels that are only open during the summer season, and instead appreciate business owners like my landlady, who has her hotel open all year round, but rarely makes her money’s worth during the slow months.

My life on Santorini

Santorini left me with mixed feelings. Although I am sure I will come back and permanently settle on the island, it opened my eyes to a lot of problems you don’t get to see as a tourist. It was a magical experience I won’t soon forget, but I want to make sure that the story of the off-season Santorini life gets heard.

Stay tuned.




Living at The Collective Old Oak

Living at The Collective in London

I moved to The Collective in May 2017 and have just extended my contract for another year. So why not give an update of what it’s like to live here as a freelancer? Note: This is not a sponsored post at all, I just really need to put out content on my blog 😛

I was initially more attracted to The Collective because I hate paying bills. As someone who has a few loans to pay off (not to mention freelance taxes), having the security of not being charged extra for any bills is a huge plus. Here’s where I absolutely love The Collective as everything is included in your rent (don’t worry, there are also plenty of things I hate about it). There are also things I hate, but more on that later.

Living at The Collective Old Oak

But what’s it like to actually live here?

  1. The People

I found that the people are friendlier than any other apartment building people I have ever met. Even living in student halls can’t compare to this experience. You can pretty much strike a conversation with anyone in the building, and turn an awkward elevator ride into a pitch of your marketing services. There is, of course, a huge mixture of people living here, but so far, they’ve all been very friendly and easy to talk to.

  1. The Facilities

One of the things I love about The Collective are the facilities. It’s also something I hate. Although I have no issue with small rooms, I do have an issue with not having an oven unless I walk to the common floor kitchen (which I rarely do). Not even private studio apartments have an oven, and that’s a huge con for me (considering they’re 300 quid more expensive than the regular rooms).

Other than that, I am totally in love with what the building has to offer. As a freelancer, I try to avoid working in my room, so having the library and the secret garden in the building is super helpful. It’s all very hipster and beautifully decorated – if you’re a fan of contemporary design, you’ll definitely love this.

These are the facilities I frequently use on site:

The Secret Garden

This is one of my favorite places ever, mainly because no one’s ever here and you can really chill with your work. There’s water sounds everywhere, comfortable cushions, weird decorations, and overall, it really resembles a secret garden.

Living at The Collective Old Oak


The Library

Another favorite spot of mine, although it has a long way to go before it actually becomes a library. It’s smaller than you think, but comes with comfortable chairs and reading nooks, as well as working tables, and a conference meeting space. There are tons of books to choose from!

Living at The Collective Old Oak

The Common

The Common is The Collective’s restaurant, open to everybody. On the plus side, their food is amazing and I’m a sucker for their coffee. A beautiful place to chill on a sunny day, and there are outlets for your laptop practically everywhere.

The Gym & Sauna

I’ll group these two together because they’re my favorite and go hand-in-hand. I’m a sucker for having the gym so close and then directly hitting sauna afterwards. As a gym rat, this has been a part of my routine for years, and I’m so happy this is an option. The gym is pretty small, but it surprisingly offers more machines than some of the other gyms I’ve visited. You won’t find a leg extension machine or a push press etc. but it DOES have a squat rack instead of a Smith machine (thank you) and plenty of gadgets!

Living in Willesden Junction


I can’t complain when it comes to transportation. It takes about 5-10 minutes to reach the Willesden Junction overground (still in zone 2, Overground and Bakerloo Line), which has options to take you to Elephant & Castle and Euston. You can also walk to Acton (also about 10 mins) and catch the Central Line, so there are plenty of transportation links available to reach central London.

Living at The Collective Old Oak


I’m not a fan of this area when it comes to safety, mainly because being so close to Harlesden scares me. But knocking on wood, I had no issues so far, even though there have been several reports of certain crime happening in the area. It’s definitely not the safest neighborhoods to live in, but hey, I used to live in Lewisham, so I can totally deal with this.

Things I hate about The Collective

So here’s what I hate about The Collective:

  • It’s too small

It claims it houses 500 people, but the launderette only has about 7 washing machines and dryers. The communal areas are far too small to accommodate that many people (although I hardly see people in the Library or Secret Garden), considering you end up with about 50 people on each floor – now imagine 50 people share a communal kitchen. Finding an empty washing machine is a consistant issue, and I really think they would benefit from having a launderette on two separate floors.

  • It’s still not registered on the map

Your apartment still won’t be registered on the map, making it harder to get things delivered. It does get delivered, of course, but make sure you are using the correct postcode and address. There are some delivery services that still don’t deliver to this postcode, which can be annoying for business people.

  • Lack of business events

You get about 2-3 events at The Collective every day, but I wish that as they grow, they focus more on services for digital nomads and business people, as those are the people that primarily live in the building. So far, I’ve enjoyed several talks, but holding even more business-oriented talks that could help individuals with their own business would really separate the building from your typical student halls. At the moment The Collective is more focused on social events, like weekly football, speed meetings, yoga, etc. and I can’t wait for this to develop.  (Since I wrote this, we had some AMAZING business talks <3 )

  • Price

And last but not least, the price. Well, the price of the studios is quite normal as 1200 is kind of the normal (good, functional) studio rate in London and with bills included it kind of works out. But when your studio doesn’t have an oven, and when everything is super minimal, is it still worth it?

Living at The Collective Old Oak

Overall, I think The Collective has a long way to go before becoming a real co-living experience, but considering they’re based in London, it’s an expansion just waiting to happen and I can’t wait to witness it. Here’s to a full year of living at the place! <3 


Is Udemy's Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program Worth It?

25+ Websites with Jobs for Freelancers

You are a witty writer, an interesting IT specialist, a magical marketer, a confident consultant, a daring designer or some other alliterative academic (that does sound illiterate doesn’t it?). You want to move away from day-to-day drudgery of the rat race and see yourself as a fancy-free and footloose freelancer. Good for you! But where are all the jobs for freelancers?

25+ Websites with Jobs for Freelancers

Fear not, for there are numerous websites out there who are willing to help you achieve your dreams (all while making money for themselves (and you (and the people you freelance for (I’m a fan of brackets, sorry)))). So here they are:

  • jobs are posted. People bid for those jobs. Money is paid on completion of those jobs. Upwork takes a cut. Feedback is given and everyone is happy (ideally). Upwork features short and long term projects, hourly and fixed price contracts, and breaks down jobs into entry-level, intermediate and expert.
  • (or .uk or .ie etc depending on your location): job posting marketplace for local jobs. If you would like to find freelancing work in your area, generally posted by reputable businesses, then this is where you want to be. Hey, maybe you will find a long term job here and be able to re-enter the rat race.
  • for the graphic designers out there. Compete against other designers to create logos, banners and more. The winning design will be rewarded with money.
  • a great place to start. The jobs are simple and generally pay between $5 and $10.
  • a great option for those specializing in writing, editing, copywriting, publishing, blogging, you name it. Have a way with words? Head this way.
  • a community forum to find solutions to all your tech problems (I have use them countless times), but also a place where tech companies will post jobs. Find a solution to your problem or find a solution to your life!
  • you know the name, but did you know they also advertise WordPress jobs too? You an expert in WordPress themes, plug-ins or optimization? Then there will be a job for you here.
  • another site full of jobs for writers, but this one also holds writing competitions where highly articulate writers can win prizes for submissions.
  • are you a blogger? Then this freelancing site is tailer made for you. Get over here and find some blogging jobs, then blog about your blogging.
  • Mefi jobs ( allows you to find all the regular freelancer jobs that the other sites do, but this one allows you to see exactly how far you are from your chosen job. Neat right? Or is it? I really do not know!
  • you are a professional so why should you be wasting your time with these amateur sites! (your words not mine). A place for professionals in their field to meet and find the job to satisfy their needs.
  • there are lots of great sites on this list, but the list is in no way exhaustive (I know, I have checked). Go to google and ‘google’ ‘freelancing jobs’. Be prepared for over 31 million results.
  • similar in idea to most freelancing websites, though it does features a rigorous screening process which whittles down freelancers until only the top 3% remain. Are you an expert in your field with a deep belief in your skills? Then this is the place for you.
  • lots of job posts searching for freelancers, but the main difference from all those other freelancing websites out there is that you are able to compete in competitions against other freelancers for these jobs.
  • this site will connect you with some of the big players, such as amazon, but will only consider you if you have some great code filling your github repository.
  • a more social site than the others, allowing freelancers to search for jobs while maintaining a community feel.
  • a search engine dedicated to finding technology jobs.
  • are you a specialist in web design, programming, etc? Then this is the place for you. Featuring small and large scale jobs, you are sure to find something here.
  • helps clients to find freelancers within their locale. Freelancers are organized by region, timezone, skills, etc.
  • Craigslist, Kijiji, Gumtree, etc: everyone is going local. Food is local. Clothes are locally made. Micro-breweries are popping up all over the place. So why not become a local freelancer (you could also go organic, gluten free and vegan too). Search out your local ads to find that perfect freelancing job, or post an ad yourself advertising your specific skill set.
  • WeWorkRemotely – This one is frequently updated, with a lot more ‘serious’ job types that pay you well.  
  • FlexJobs – I really wish FlexJobs would change their website to something more organized, but hey, at least they offer jobs for freelancers, right?  
  • Virtual Assistant Clinic – A paid subscription service, but their Facebook Group is also pretty awesome!
  • Escape the City – Not just freelance jobs, but this is where you can find some of the most creative jobs out there. Shout out to a recruiter who showed me this after not offering me a job at their company! 🙂
  • The Gig List – A pretty cohesive list of jobs for freelancers, and it arrives to your inbox, so you don’t even have to search on a regular basis.
  • Friends & family: no need to be ashamed. Get the word out there, there may be some work needed by a family member, a friend, a friend of a friend, a friend of a family member or a friend of a family member’s friend. You never know until you ask.

There you have it. The definitive list (I did add Google in there and they know everything). Go out there and begin your freelancing career. Sign up to a website, talk to people, bid for jobs, gain a reputation and make some money doing the thing you love. And don’t you dare to work for exposure. 

See you out there! 🙂


Is Udemy's Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program Worth It?
Digital Nomad Guides

Is Udacity’s Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program Worth It?

As an already established Content Manager, who didn’t come from a Marketing background, I knew I needed just a few more lessons on overall Digital Marketing and how to use different types of strategies for different types of businesses. One of my friends told me about Udacity’s Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program, and after a few days of contemplating, I said “F it” and signed up.

Is it worth it?

One of my main questions at the time was if is it worth spending almost $1000 on this course. Well, in short, the answer is ‘yes, at least for me it was.’

Is Udacity's Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program Worth It?

What the Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program is really good as is explaining how businesses work by using different case studies. That’s one of the main benefits of the program as it gives you an insight of how you can tweak your strategies to suit the needs of a B2B or a B2C content. Unless you studied Marketing, this is one thing you’d never learn as a self-taught marketer.

Another highlight I love about the program is your portfolio. Most sections of the nanodegree come with assignments, which you fill out and then wait for a review from your mentor. By the end of your degree, you will already have a basic portfolio you can show off on your CV!

Other advantages of the Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program

  • Continuous feedback from your mentor
  • A Slack community of students
  • A modern insight into digital marketing
  • Focus on content marketing along with an inside look into social media

Is Udacity's Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program Worth It?

Are there any disadvantages?

Well, sort of. You must be dedicated and do assignments on time, otherwise, it’s very easy to fall behind (like I pretty much did with this assignment).

But other than that, if you can afford it, I’d definitely choose the Digital Marketing Nanodegree as your jump off desk into the world of marketing.  

This program enabled me to have a greater insight into the world of Marketing, and as a Creative and Professional Writing graduate, I’d never be able to gain the same insight from any of the courses I’ve taken.

Also, thank you for making this a part of my assignment, as I was going to write about my review on this degree anyways. 😉

How to Develop Kickass Fitness Habits

How to Develop Fitness Habits That Last

So you want to get fit, huh? Maybe you’ve tried getting in the groove before but ended up totally failing after a week. I feel you. I’ve been flirting with fitness on and off and have had weeks (well, months kinda) where I wouldn’t even glance at online workouts, yet alone my gym. Whether the reason for failure was a lack of motivation, lack of time, or something else, you can choose to hop on the fitness train anytime you’re feeling up to the challenge again. You don’t have to be a die-hard gym-goer—or even go to the gym at all—in order to succeed at developing fitness habits that last. 

Below you’ll find some kickass fitness tips to stay on track and develop habits that outlive the first couple weeks of the new year by a long shot.

How to Develop Kickass Fitness Habits

Take it easy!

Don’t come out of the gate sprinting, or in your case, through the neighborhood. Pushing yourself early on in a fitness routine is a rookie mistake that leaves newbies burnt out after a week of training. Don’t be like them. Overexercise at first can lead to fatigue and pain. If you build up an association of unpleasant pain with exercise, you’re bound to avoid it. Take your time when starting out. Your body will thank you.

Start off with a couple of online apps and do some workouts at home. Try not to overdo it, because it’ll get overwhelming after your honeymoon fitness phase (that exists too).

How to Develop Kickass Fitness Habits

Wrangle up time and watch the clock

If you start out fitness habits on the wrong foot, you’re going to have problems. Finding the time for a workout sesh can be tough to manage at first and it takes a lot of self discipline and accountability to make it all happen. 

One effective solution for this is setting aside time in the day when you’re sure to be free of any obligations.

Now set an alarm on your phone. The key is to set the alarm for the same time everyday you plan to workout (I’m looking at you, 6AM alarm clock). Once that alarm goes off, drop what you’re doing and perform your planned exercises for the day.

This will keep your workouts consistently timed, which will eventually seem as natural as waking up in the morning.

Piggyback your habits

Do you already have habits ingrained into your routine? Drinking your morning coffee? Watching your favorite show? If so, you’re in luck.

When you’ve got established habits, it’s easier to attach new habits rather than starting them separately. This will greatly increase the chance for the habit to stick. For example, your show comes on at 8:30 PM. You can tell yourself “I will complete my 30-minute exercise routine before my show starts.” Or if you’re a workaholic like me, take those 30 minutes as “me time” and then go back to work if you have to. 

Not only does this keep your habits connected, it rewards you for putting in the effort beforehand. These positive reinforcements will have your mind trained like Pavlov’s dog in no time.

How to Develop Kickass Fitness Habits

Invest and get a personal trainer

If you really can’t baby yourself into your habit, get a personal trainer. I decided to really focus on my confidence with gym equipment and wanted to gain knowledge in how to perform certain moves. As soon as I came back to London, I decided to hire a personal trainer that would help me stay accountable.

So. Totally. Worth it. We meet every Saturday for an hour and that Saturday makes me feel so motivated. My slot’s at 9am, which also forces me to get up early and helps with a bunch of other goals.

Highly recommended if you can afford it!

Don’t hesitate to motivate

Do you keep putting off your workouts? Just remember that whatever excuse you can come up with won’t be compatible with your fitness habit goals. Don’t worry though, because we both know you’ll get through this slump without missing a beat.

A great way to overcome the slump is by motivating yourself with external factors. In other words: watch some videos, check out pictures, and inspire yourself with motivational quotes to help you power through your off days. 

My favorite YouTube fitness channels to get motivated:

Don’t expect to look like these experienced fitness fanatics overnight. The truth is, you won’t look like anyone but yourself. They are here to remind you why you’re doing this. It makes no difference whether it’s for weight loss, strength, or general well-being.

Your specific goals are what matters here, and watching others who have gone through the pain already can be a great spark of motivation when you’re feeling the pressures of maintaining fitness habits. Keep your head up and keep moving.

Remember: the more momentum you build up, the harder it will be to stop this fitness train.  















How long should you stay on santorini?
Living on Santorini, Santorini

How Long Should You Stay on Santorini?

I’m writing this solely because it really irks me when people tell me they are going to go  island hopping and stay on Santorini 1-2 day max. Huh? How can you possibly get the full Santorini experience in just a weekend? Not to mention you’ll find many things closed on a Sunday, including restaurants and supermarkets. In all honesty, you’d be throwing away your money – take it from someone who stayed on Santorini for almost 4 months and would do it again in a heartbeat. If you do it, I hope you realize your mind will keep on coming back to this island until it forces you to come back – it’s what happened to me.

How long should you stay on santorini?

So how long should you stay on Santorini?

It depends when you’re visiting. I can imagine why people choose short-term stays during the summer season. It’s crowded AF. Seriously. I’ve never been on the island during the summer season and I stopped going to Oia after April because the crowds ruined the fun. But for a true Santorini experience, I recommend a week. Do a tour, and do a couple of them. Sit down in a restaurant and talk to the locals. Dip your toes in the ocean, go hiking from Fira to Oia, rent a mountain bike, make a challenge to visit every single beach restaurant on the island, seeing the sunset from many different angles, go visit the Santorini animal shelter (and adopt a Santorini puppy while you’re at it!), eat true authentic Santorini tomatoes, visit the hidden beaches on the other side, watch a movie in the open cinema… can you really do all that in a weekend?

How long should you stay on santorini?

Staying on Santorini for a longer time (and during the off season) allowed me to support businesses that normally don’t get any traffic until about May. I learned a lot about Santorini locals and how hard they work to make your summer magical (without a day off for the entire summer and in terrible heat, mind you).

How long should you stay on santorini?

Obviously, this is your decision, but if you ever stumble upon this article, you should really consider giving this island a chance for longer than just 2 days. Trust me, it’s totally worth learning to not flush the toilet paper and drinking only from bottled water.

There’s more to this island than sunsets. It’s the people that bring you the real magic. 🙂

How long should you stay on santorini?

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Being a healthy and disciplined freelancer
Digital Nomad Guides, Writing

Being a Healthy and Disciplined Freelancer

Welcome to the freelance club. Now sit back and watch the money roll in. Take it easy and enjoy the amount of free time you now have. Put up your feet and fall in love with working to your own schedule.

Wait. Not happening?

Freelancing is a tricky business, there are many positives and many more negatives which come with this work adventure. And if you know me, I talk all the time how this is NOT a shortcut to get money. Like for real, work is work, and just because you can choose your own hours, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the work. Things will hit the fan if you don’t discipline yourself and create a productive routine.

1. Create a space. And actually work there

If you are anything like me, then you are easily distracted by your surrounding area. You are sat on the couch, but the cat walking through your yard is acting very suspicious. You try your room, but Netflix has been left on from this morning and, wait, THERE’S A FRIENDS EPISODE YOU HAVEN’T SEEN?!

Take the time to create your own space, hire an interior decorator or do it yourself, but designate a space where you can work and do nothing else. A desk, a lamp, paper and a pen, your laptop, a coaster for your coffee mug and an adequate view. Now when you sit down (or stand up) in this space, you are here to work. You will notice the distractions less and will be more focused.

2. Eat, sleep, and be enthusiastic

As a freelancer you need to be aware of your health. We usually work from home and do not leave the comforts we have created for ourselves (I sometimes don’t even roll out of my bed all day unless I have to). The health or a freelancer can suffer. Don’t let it happen.

  • Eat well. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean protein, fibre and all the other stuff like nutrients and minerals, etc, etc. Eating well = healthy body = healthy mind = good freelancing.
  • Drink lots of water. Or drink lots of water based drinks which are also low in sugar. Keeping hydrated means our brains are working well.
  • Sleep. Take the time to wind down at night and get 6-8 hours sleep. A rested freelancer is a productive freelancer.
  • Meditate. Take the time out of you work day to focus on yourself for a few minutes. Clear your mind and achieve a sense of wellbeing. It has been shown that people who meditate are happier than this who do not.
  • Be comfortable. If you are going to be sitting for long periods of time then invest in a chair which will support your back,. Your health should always be the number one priority.
  • Exercise and stretch. Sitting for extended periods can be detrimental to your health. Take five minutes every hour to either walk or stretch. Together we can show pain and fatigue who is boss.

3. Create a schedule and stick to it

You were working a nine-to-five job, but now you have left the rat-race, so why should you conform to working hours?

So often as a freelancer you will find the distinction between work and play becoming blurred. When you are working you will stop and play and when you are playing your mind will drift towards work. By setting defined work hours you will be more productive, focused and energized within those hours, and you will be able to enjoy the ‘me time’ guilt free. There’s a good chance your clients will be from all around the world and sometimes you’ll have to stick to different working hours. Make sure you have a clear idea of what those hours will be to avoid ugly surprises.

*Pro tip: take the time to plan a commute for your work day. When working at the office you would not get out of bed and begin work straight away. Take the time to wake up, grab some breakfast and perhaps even take a walk around the block to ready yourself for the working day ahead. Believe me, it works!

4. Utilize productivity tools

Productivity = good.

Tool = helpful.

Productivity tool = Invaluable (or good helpful if you’re a math person).

  • Management and productivity tools will help to integrate your work and calendar to better manage your day and help to set a task-based schedule.
  • Time management tools can help you to keep a record of all the tasks and activities completed throughout the day.
  • Make sure to set some overall goals for yourself. If you can set and visualize your goals, you can become more focused, motivated and time conscious.
  • Writing is an enormous asset as a freelancer. Writing tools can help to proofread, edit and format your work. Your grammar so bad? Bad, writing, style? Productivity tools will help.
  • Cannot make a decision? Or can you? No? Don’t worry, there are apps for that.

Productivity tools can be an essential part of a freelancer’s repertoire.

5. Reward the good & embrace the bad

There will be many times throughout your freelancing career that will be incredibly positive and rewarding. Celebrate these times for you have deserved it. Acknowledge the good work you have done and it will become more motivating to put in the effort to do this again and again.

There will be also many, many, many, many times during your career that you will face rejection, heartbreak, and clients disappearing before they pay you (AND STILL USE YOUR CONTENT AFTER *cough* *cough* not putting anyone on blast, but karma will come and get you…). Happens. All freelancers have faced rejection and negativity at many points of their life. The best of us will take this rejection, accept it, use it to better ourselves, learn about ourselves and move on. If this was complete and reasonable injustice, karma will take care of the rest. Don’t beat yourself over the bad.

*Pro tip: get used to rejection. Interviews are a fun way of socializing and networking, don’t always expect a positive outcome.

6. Hold yourself accountable

Working from home and for yourself can be hard and demotivating. If you are finding it hard then set up a network or community of accountability around you. Your family or friends, other freelancers online or just your cat. If you have someone watching, waiting to see you complete your work then you will find a natural drive to not disappoint.

One thing you can also do, if you’re really struggling (like I did a month ago), is hire a life coach to smoke out the bad habits out of you and really hold you accountable to your stuff. Trust me, it’s working.

If you have read this far then well done to you. You are ready to be a productive member of the freelancer community. So what are you waiting for, go on get out there and do some work. 🙂

All roads lead to Santorini
Living on Santorini, Santorini

All Roads Lead to Santorini

Life has a goddamn weird sense of humor.

A few years ago, when I first visited this beautiful island, I stumbled upon this quirky bookshop called Atlantis Books – I fell in love with the front door quote, the fairytale-like atmosphere, the funny messages, and the loft bed that looked like a perfect place to chill with a favorite book. I also spent a lot of time in a picture-perfect hippy bar, one of the few on the island that served vegan food. And when I say it was perfect, I mean it, it was perfect. I had a quite a famous Tumblr blog back then and their manifesto picture became quite popular (and 1k pins on Pinterest :O). I was so in love with the vibe of the place, I knew I was going to come back.

Fast forward two years. It was my first year of living in Madrid and I just left my au pair family to start my new job. I settle into my wonderful room in a flat right opposite the Royal Palace, and one day, stumble into this quirky shop that had a very cosy, fairytale-like atmosphere. It seemed too good to be true, so I asked about the similarities – turns out, the owners also own Atlantis Books on Santorini.

Fast forward to a couple of more years, now living on the island. I’ve been relentlessly looking for volunteering opportunities for the last 5 years with no luck. More of a habit than an actual search, I did my usual ‘volunteer on Santorini’ check a few weeks ago – the search usually includes Workaway.

Lo and behold, guess where a volunteering opportunity popped up.

On this very island.

And guess where?

At the hippy bar I loved so much, which now extended into a hippy hostel. 

Life is weird. But if there’s one thing I learned it’s that all roads lead to Santorini.

All roads lead to Santorini


3 Things I Deeply Hate About Santorini
Living on Santorini, Santorini, Where I've Been

3 Things I Deeply Hate About Santorini

And before someone says “well if you don’t like it, go somewhere else” – meh. I consider Santorini the most magical place on Earth, but just like Disneyland, ever magical place has its problems. The Greek are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, so I’m guessing the roots of these issues lie somewhere else. It’s something you don’t notice unless you stay here for more than just a few days. And even though I constantly rave about this island, there are a few things about Santorini I absolutely hate (just 3, hope that makes you feel better).

No recycling.

Alright, here’s the thing. Considering you can’t drink the Santorini tap water (unless you like desalinated water) and need to buy plenty of water bottles for your everyday life, I’m surprised the island has no recycling system. Not to mention the amount of toilet paper we use because we can’t flush anything down the toilet (yup). Grocery stores automatically give you bags and they are FREE (I’ve been living in Spain and London for far too long). I’ve yet to see a recycling system to minimize any environmental issues the island could face (or is facing). I know, I know, it’s an island after all. But there needs to be a solution for this, right?

3 Things I Deeply Hate About Santorini

Very little respect for animals.

Although there are cats, dogs and donkeys everywhere on this island and there are many loving interactions, I’ve seen donkey handlers kick donkeys to get them to go in the right direction. Hundreds of pets get abandoned after seasonal owners return to Athens to escape the winter (many locals leave Santorini in October and return in February or March). Santorini’s animal shelter has more than 100 dogs waiting to be adopted. Donkeys have to walk on horrible cobblestone stairs and carry enormous amounts of weight under the hot Santorini sun. And when they’re unable to do their job, there’s a good chance they will get abandoned or killed. Yep. 

3 Things I Deeply Hate About Santorini

The summer season.

I’m not a huge fan of the summer season. The thought of having to reserve your spot in Oia 3 hours before the sunset is just crazy. The way buses get too full, the way accommodation is literally sold out months before (but places are completely empty Jan – April and October – December), you need to reserve your restaurant table,… everything needs to be planned waaay in advance, or you’ll be left with nothing. Santorini summers are magical in many other ways, but crowd control isn’t one of them. The place below is FULL of people during the summer season! 

3 Things I Deeply Hate About Santorini

Ah, Santorini. You’ve stolen my heart, but….