Learning 46 – Why added value work happens outside working hours

There is a lot being written and discussed around the topic of flexible working hours, using various places or different ways of interacting with your colleagues. Many of the ideas about the flexibility of the employees to modify the times and places where they work – which are totally valuable. We are different and we need tailored approaches to succeed.

But this is just not entirely possible in some companies. The number of people involved, the dependency on other functions, the complexity of the systems used etc do not match this idea of pure flexibility.

So what happens when employees still want to allocate time to bring added value? When one is willing to take things above and beyond?

From my experience, there is one thing that works when there is a need for working on something that would go above and beyond your daily tasks and bring added value – take it outside the working hours.


1. No (unwanted) distractions – Incapacity to multitask is definitely perceived as a minus these days. You need to be able to switch on and off from one task to another to be sure you respond promptly to the changes in the fast paced environment nowadays. Needless to say this is not productive. And despite trying to apply the advice of only checking my e-mail a couple of times a day, this just does not work for me. I feel like I am missing out on something. So if I am not good at ignoring the interruptions, I found out that if there actually aren’t any I am able to focus and get valuable work done.

2. Long periods of uninterrupted time – In today’s open offices and diaries blocked by meetings, it is highly unlikely to find long periods of uninterrupted time. Whilst this is also needed in usual task solving, it is absolutely a must for bringing extra. Only in this way you can allow your thoughts to flow, ideas to get generated, plans to be put in place. And this is what will ultimately make you succeed.

3.  Distinguishable from daily routine tasks – As for many jobs, the one of a marketeer involves different kinds of work and various ways of working. There are those which need the involvement of other functions such as: problem solving of daily tasks, moving project further, brainstorming on ideas etc. But there are also those which need introspection such as building plans, understanding the problems, getting to the root case of issues. For the latter, a different approach is needed. And since they require more introspection, I found it beneficial to separate them from the daily tasks.

Even if there will always be the question on the impact on long hours on work-life balance, I believe that if you want to bring more to the table, manage to exceed the requirements and prove that you are great (and not just good), you will have to find the time. And not only the time, but also the dedication and the passion to compromise on some things sometimes. It is about the willingness and discipline and it is in your hands if you want to go above and beyond. This is just one of the many ways in which you can achieve greatness.

Writing mood – I missed you

I don’t know if it was somewhere between crazy schedules, challenging live events or exiting adventures that I’ve lost it. And by it I mean the willingness to write.

Neither do I know how come today I had it back. Must be the rain from this summer day that looks like autumn. Or the need for things to be about me, my thoughts and my introversion.

Lots have happened in the meantime:

  • I’ve traveled half the world for my summer holidays

  • I’ve been in the office until 9 for weeks (being the last one to leave to building) just to make sure I get that project launched

  • I’ve spend some amazing 10 days with my other half

  • I’ve discovered how amazing London is and how much I still have to discover

  • I’ve read some fascinating and amazingly inspiring books

  • I have a new laptop that looks just like the one I always pictured myself writing on

  • I’ve hated my life

  • I’ve loved my life

  • I’ve gotten back to writing…

Rainy Sunday, thanks for coming to get me back to doing this. It would’ve been a pity to miss out on an activity that brings so much peace in my soul.


Learning 45 – A week around reading, silly things and Valentine’s

You know how I shared insights of my new challenge of doing things that take me out of the comfort zone (1st week and 2nd week)? Well, yet another week has passed and I am happy to have done not only scary, but also fun things.

week 3

This week did not seem such a burden, so see below some fun things you could also try:

15. Read a book. An entire one in just one day. After having had a productive weekend afternoon in the local library, I became very motivated. So I decided to spent a couple of hours on reading What would Apple do?. I have though to be honest and acknowledge that this was not a massive book in terms of number of pages, so it went pretty fast. I will come back with some insights that I took from the book.


16. Waste £15 to get all the nail polish shades you wanted. You might already know that one of my small happiness is to have colourful nails. It just makes me smile :). So with this month’s salary, I decided to buy all the shades that I was admiring at other ladies. Totally silly, but totally worth a smile.


17. Break all those bubbles !!! Do not think about the neighbours. There are so many of my friends who share the obsession of breaking these packaging bubbles. The issue is I found on of these @11pm.


18. Use your brand new blender. Take the smoothie to work as a breakfast. The scary thing here was that something will not work, I will be delayed to work or this will not provide enough energy for the day. None of these was the case.


19. Tell your colleagues that you don’t know how to ride a bike when they suggest biking to work on another bus strike day. When you are new in a team, sharing what you don’t know how to do is not the first thing you do, right? :))). So although kind of embarrassing, the best way to share these things is if you make fun of yourself.

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20. Wait to see if he remembers the monthly anniversary. We have this tradition with my boyfriend to celebrate the monthly anniversary of the first kiss. I sometimes like to wait with anxiously if he remembers. I bet he does the same.


21. Eat that box of chocolates you picked up for yourself. Tell him he owes you one. When you don’t spend Valentine’s together, the chocolate is still missing. For the chocolate lovers, I mean. So I picked one for myself and he now owes me one :P.


Learning 44 – The fun in chocolate boxes

Keeping in the spirit of Valentine’s, I decided to buy myself a box of chocolates.

So I discovered that there are some aspects that make a box of chocolate:

  • You don’t buy it everyday, so it gives you the feeling of being something precious.
  • The unwrapping takes longer, so you won’t just eat into it.
  • There is a variety of tastes, shapes and textures in there, so you will have to decide upon what you want to eat first, which will be the second and so on.
  • It comes with an instructions manual. Sometimes even in two copies (and this is actually the first time i encountered it).

Photo proof below:

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Learning 43 – Why marketing needs introverts

For those of you who work in marketing, you know the scenery:

marketing guys

  • a bunch of voluble, energetic people
  • desperately willing to make themselves heard
  • brilliant presentation skills
  • excellent capability of persuading others into listening the their ideas
  • highly elevated levels of motivation
  • shooting ideas at automatic fire
  • execution, execution, execution – now, please!

For those outside this scenery, only witnessing the results:

marketeers mocking

  • innovative ideas (or not so innovative really, at times)
  • people talking a lot and discussing things over and over again
  • storytellers
  • sneaky ways to a solution
  • no numbers if possible, please
  • “Did you know that consumers blablabla?”
  • stopping in the middle of the street and be like “Look at that ad!”

With some of the above being true descriptions, others exaggerations or misconceptions, the point I am trying to make is that any successful marketeer of 2015 needs something extra apart from all these extroversion characteristics. Without having in depth understanding of the surrounding environment, insights and capacity of connecting the dots, none of the successful stories could be told.

So, why do marketeers need to have a bit of introversion, as well?

  1. This enables analytic thinking, which is the root of challenging others on the path to excellent execution. And yes, this involves numbers, it is not all about creativity. You have to reflect that the decisions you make as a marketeer are the right ones for all the parts of the organization
  2. It makes them more humble, because one needs to realize everything is in the end a team effort, with many more departments involved. Marketeers might be closer to the consumers/the audience, but they could not speak up without tedious back-work.
  3. Empathy is another characteristic of introversion. One needs to get closer to the human nature and try to understand humans in order to be able to communicate to the other and tell the right stories. Additionally, this goes for motivating the team members into getting to results, as well.
  4. Attention to details is often what makes the difference between a failure and a brilliant outcome. Without this, excellent execution is impossible and so is finding innovative ways to fight competition (or slightly innovative, but definitely “turning tables” ones).
  5. Last, but not least, being a visionary is an absolute must that cannot be achieved without considerable reflection and analysis of the environment.

Obviously, these are not exhaustive lists of traits and this is not even the point. The idea is that there might be so much more to a profession that might actually be completely ignored. And whilst introverts are considered to be an absolutely no match for some professions, there are bits and pieces from their characteristics that can be useful for any of them. At least for the sake of putting more reflection into it.

Learning 42 – And yet another week of doing scary things

Continuing the project I wrote about last week, I challenged myself to go out of the comfort zone yet again.

See the insights below:

8. Wear pink manicure to work. Being in marketing has its advantages. It comes as an assumption that you might be less conventional and more creative. So extreme pink colours should not be judged in a serious working environment. And makes you feel a bit childish and smile more.


9. Go running on a treadmill for the first time. I am not sure why, but treadmills have always scared me. Might be because of all those scary cartoons where the characters fall off and hurt themselves. So on Tuesday, I said to myself it is time to try it. So after having stepped on the treadmill, I realized that I have been so ignorant.. I was totally making the wrong assumptions on the control you have on the machine. The one running there is capable to control the machine way better than I initially imagined. And nothing there is sudden, nor surprising. Worth trying.


10. Switch off the phone and take an afternoon nap. Don’t tell anyone where you’ve disappeared. I don’t know exactly how this happens, but whenever I try to take an afternoon nap in the weekends, the phone rings. Or I receive a text from someone who wants to chat. Which is absolutely lovely, don’t get me wrong. But I am amazed how bad the timings can sometimes be. It seems to work better if you “evaporate”. Funny enough, no one tried to reach me in that time :)). (Ups, and I made a typo on the post-it).  


11. Bus strike. Walk 5 km to get to work and prepare for 5 more in the evening. I do not mind walking. I am actually a fan. But after less activity in the winter and especially when you are in a rush, well, … then it gets a bit painful. Not on the day, because I actually felt really well to start moving more intensively again. But the next day was not that enjoyable anymore :)).


12. Don’t do anything scary. Just for the day. When I start something, I need that motion that keeps me in the rhythm and going. Because previous experiences proved that if I stop it before it gets a part of life, chances are that I will give up. So challenging myself to relax for a day was actually a scary things I managed nicely.


13. Tell him you miss him. When being in a long-distance relationship, it is sometimes difficult to share melancholic feelings, such as missing one another. So, in order to avoid being sad or making him sad, I would not say “I miss you” as often as I really feel it. I would refrain and keep it for some occasions only.


14. Watch movies till late on a working next day. Having a good sleep is important before a full working day. But having spontaneous and unplanned fun can be even more important.


Given the above summary, I realized that I manage to work on some of the objectives I planned for the upcoming year. Meaning that these activities that take me out of the comfort zone help be discover new areas that I would have otherwise been to scared or lazy to try. And it forces me to keep working on new and new ways to prevent laziness.

I am not sure what next week will bring me, but a small spoiler is that it will sure have something to do with books, because I spend some good hours in the library in the weekend trying to select some good books to read. Since it is still getting dark soon and a cup of tea with a good book seem to be a convenient way of spending cold evenings.

Don’t forget: #happinessisaneverydaylearning that you can get to if you #dosmththatscaresueveryday

Learning 41 – New projects to help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions

I have mentioned in one of the previous post that I aim to keep some beliefs in 2015. In order to make my life nicer, happier and learn more out of it.

So last week I have started a new challenge for myself. Of doing something that scares me everyday. I am not talking about extreme things here; it is just small things that I feel scare me, but I am taking actions against overcoming them. Some are indeed steps that help me develop as a person and be more courageous. Some others are things I am telling myself I’d rather not do. But I believe these help me keep challenging myself.

Behind the scenes for this week:

  1. Challenge yourself into a new challenge. I work best when I set my mind in an engaging challenge. So I decided that the best way to succeed is to put this in a form of a new project.


2. First online food order. Being skeptical about the freshness of the food ordered – not any more.


3. Attend a training with no agenda. At 5.30 pm. On a Wednesday. Get an invite for a training session at job. Have no clue what it is about. But a great feeling afterwards of having been involved.


4. Go  work days without coffee. It will help me sleep faster and better at night and have a constant level of energy during the day since I replaced coffee with green tea.


5. Machine-wash your new sleeping toy. I am obsessed with washing up every single garment item I purchase in a store.  Because I am really doubting the depositing conditions. So, taking the chance that the toy might shrink, well, it didn’t :).


  1. Do a fruit only detox Saturday. Fresh & smoothies. Saturday is the best day for a detox, because the reduced energy does not affect the performance at work.


7. Share your challenge to the “world”. Although some might believe these things are not scary at all, I am acknowledging the importance of overcoming these steps for myself. And you never know whom else gets motivated to try out new things.



Learning 40 – How to plan your week to avoid unnecessary decision making during the week

You might have also heard about how Steve Jobs or Barack Obama dress the same all the time (an interesting list on this here). The reason behind this is the willingness to reduce the number of decisions they have to make. Since it is said that you can only make a limited number of reasonable decisions a day. And in this category of decisions, any small thing can count, such as what are you having for lunch/dinner, which way to take home from work, go or no go to projects at work, answers to your little kids’ questions; and yes – even the clothes to wear.

Without any claim that the decisions a regular person like me needs to take a day are even close to the one of important guys like the ones mentioned before, I still acknowledge that one’s mind can stay clearer by eliminating simple and unnecessary items to decide on. I do totally get it that it might be a useless topic for some and a waste of time, but since I a girl and sometimes feel better and more confident due to my outfit, I decided to tell you about it.

With regards to my garderobe for the next day, I have always prepared it one evening before because my  mom used to do it that way, so I just basically imitated the same behavior without even a trace of questioning. But then came university when there were times I would be out late and postpone the selection for clothing for the morning. It was always a bad idea for me, because I ended up spending several minutes browsing through my closet and not being able to find something suitable. And then I was wondering why my mood was weird?!

Yes, yes, I know we are supposed to put on clothes that reflect the mood and emotional feeling that we are in. And it makes perfect sense to tell me that it is impossible to anticipate the mood you would wake up the next morning. I give you credit for that one. BUT, it doesn’t work for me. Sorry. My mood will just be down because of the unpreparedness. I know, kind of freaky, but I cannot function properly if I feel unprepared. And if I do not know that the morning will run smoothly and getting ready to get out of the house will take exactly x minutes. So I need to prepare my clothing the evening before.

However, every couple of days I feel like – Oh, I have to prepare the clothes again? Today as well? But I have decided enough for the day! I selected the lunch and the dinner I wanted. I even chose a movie to watch for the evening. So then I realized that I actually plan for most of my week the Sunday before. So while doing that, I could prepare my clothes for the whole week. I must tell you that it doesn’t always really work for the entire week, but at least having it crossed from my mental to do list for a couple of days really helps.

I am not actually deciding what I will wear on Monday and then on Tuesday, but I am rather preparing sets of clothes, ironing them and matching them nicely. Sunday is actually the best way to do it because I have enough time in the evening and then I will save for the rest of the week. Additionally, since the brain is less solicited during the weekend, it works smother.

Below – a sample for the next couple of days.

How are you deciding what to wear for the day? And more importantly – how long does it take to make these decisions?

Learning 39 – What expats miss from the countries they used to live in

As an expat, it is impossible not to miss things from your home country. But when you have lived for longer periods in various countries, you must have got used to things from those countries as well. And funny enough, when I go home, I begin to miss stuff from the foreign country :)).

So I decided to make a top 3 for each of the countries I lived in in the past year and the things that I miss (I will not include the people – family and friends that I have made everywhere .


  1. Knowing people and meeting acquaintances randomly on the street.
  2. Food – such as the chocolates, the corn and some special teas – that’s why I take them everywhere I move.
  3. Having full understanding of the way things work and letting go of that weird feeling when travelling abroad that you might miss/omit something you are completely unaware about.



  1. The culture appetite that seems to be everywhere.

  2. Country-side feeling the second you go out of Vienna.

  3. Hugo – a white wine mixture with elder-flower, mint and lime, served cold.



  1. Cheap life – cheap food, cheap swimming places.

  2. Being able to actually speak German.

  3. Radler – the mixed drink made of half beer & half lemon juice.

United Kingdom


  1. Discounts, loyalty schemes and points.

  2. Marketing obsession – constantly stimulating for a marketeer.

3. The extreme friendliness of people – Although tiring at times because it is time consuming, this is a source of smiles for me at all times.

I am really curios what you are missing when you move around. I would be happy to read your insights.

Learning 38 – The last piece is the best

If you are like me, you keep the very last piece of food for the end. Such as the crust of the bread for cruncy likers or the almond in the middle of a Rafaello chocolate.

But I must be like a small squirel, I like to put aside for worse times.


So this is how I realized that the last piece of chocolate I had on my desk is quite special. It comes from a box of chocolates I received from my boyfriend as a Christamas present. I ate most of them quite fast but I found this one today.

It made me smile that I have kept it and then every time I got my eyes on it today I could not eat it. It is such a small and silly thing, but it brings back a lot of nice memories.

Hopefully I will dare to eat it before it goes off. After all, I am a chocolate lover 🙂