• Before throwing myself into my creative career and purpose, I had more than my fair share of atrocious jobs the kind of jobs that made me feel like curling up on the floor in a fetal position and waiting the month out for my paycheck.

    There was the one where I was a call center sales and customer service representative... then there was the personal assistant one — to a mingy bully of a high school principal who we affectionately named Mrs. Hitler... an interpreter for medical brigades in Costa Rica... and the list goes on. I shudder to think how my life would have turned out had I not discovered something that I was deeply passionate about.

    Considering a creative career wasn't something that even seemed possible. The world tends to see designers as a new breed of hipster who grow their beards, wear oversized glasses and drink coffee out of mason jars — and I just didn't come close to that or any other preconceived notion.

    Once I stopped everything I was doing and dedicated myself to doing nothing except tinkering around with new ideas, I realized that creativity itself was the antidote to my mental inflexibility. So, as scarcely creative as any previous jobs were, once I had dipped my toes into this venture that was Design, I was astonished at how little things I had picked up from my past kept cropping up and were rather quite useful, mind you. Now I was creating my own product and caring for my own customers.

    No matter how many lousy jobs or ups and downs you've personally experienced up to this point, just know that coming to terms with and giving yourself to those things that you're truly passionate about, is the best decision that you'll ever make and that this is just one of the things that you're good at. Whatever you decide to do now or in the future for your well-being, you'll be able to pull through because you'll already have embodied and experienced the courage you need.


    Creativity

    The thought of the term creativity often feels bigger than us and that's probably because it transcends our own beliefs about ourselves. I believe it to be an ability not exclusive to just a select few of us. All of us are responsible for acknowledging creativity within ourselves and grabbing the bull by the horns.

    Creativity is not a manifestation of only those who make beautiful things with their hands or come up with ideas that change the world. Anything that you create or transmit in an original way — tangible or intangible — and which provokes a positive response, is creativity at its best.

    To tap into your own creativity, you're going to need to strip away the preconceived notion that creativity is only related to art.

    Each of us is born to follow our own unique breadcrumb trail of ideas — be it in the area art, mathematics or science. It is when we become aware of our own special abilities, that we are able to contribute. Then we begin to walk in the confidence that we are finally doing what really defines us.

    You decide to be creative by making a conscious decision to dive into your passions in a very self-indulgent way — where you look to satisfy your own needs and your own curiosity first. Saving the world? Maybe you will. But that will only be consequential and will have to wait a tad.


    Creatives

    We all have a genius living inside of us but as we grow older, we start trying to slot into patterns that already exist, instead of scratching our itch to be who we naturally are. Before long we resign ourselves to there only being a few, limited ways to achieve the results we want and that is what ultimately gives rise to a creative disconnect. When I think of creative souls, I think of people who understand that creativity inhabits them — in bucketloads that innate power within them that makes their deepest desires tangible. Your soul is willing to turn off the "impossible" as long as your mind lets it.

    Henri Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage.” — and you can see the truth of it in people who understand that beauty has a million different faces.

    People who live their creative passions live in the uncertainty of the outcome of what they create — and they're fulfilled by the mere act of producing something despite that uncertainty.

    It's simply impossible for you and I to look in the mirror and tell ourselves that we are not creative when we've already set our minds on something that's wildly as creative as blogging is. I'm glad we agree.

    That said, feeding the creative you doesn't assure that failure is never on the table. Rather it assures you that if failure does ever come knocking, you will be able to pick yourself right back up and try again — because that thing you are trying to unleash is much bigger and more powerful than any obstacle — within and without.


    Process

    Whatever we set our sights on, we get bombarded with ideas that are sometimes brilliant and sometimes not so brilliant.

    Everyone and I mean everyone that's in the business of creating their own online editorials, has this type of artistic streak — and more often than not, channeling it all is an uphill battle.

    There's no secret formula to unleashing ideas in your life. There's no one-process- fits-all method —it takes knowing what our end goal is and focusing on that to make the right decisions.

    What often fails us is not creativity or inspiration it's our fixation on the things that we are pouring our time into. We need to examine our motivations before we decide to create and to ask ourselves:

    Am I really doing what I deeply want to be doing?

    If you answer is "yes", ideas will have your back and they will grow in you as something intelligent, dynamic and interactive. Where there's passion there's inspiration and where there's inspiration, you find a way.

    The windfall of accepting that creativity is a part of us is a steady flow of ideas that can truly be of service to us. While your process is unique, the following stages are essential in every Creative's life:

    Preparation — This is the first phase — and it focuses on sharpening your skills so that you can warm to those ideas: Creating a monthly mood board, for example, can help keep you in the flow for the next step.

    Incubation — Gives your ideas time to sink in. In this stage, your conscious and subconscious
    minds converge, making true connections that allow you to rest on your thoughts without letting them overwhelm you or clutter any area of your life.

    Illumination — This is your "Aha!" moment — when a concrete idea hits you and you are able to discern the essence and worth of it. At this point you write down 3 key benefits of your general idea.

    Implementation — It's time to put your idea out there. This when a product is shaped, a post is written, a marketing idea comes to fruition fill in the blank.

    Eventually creativity works with us as opposed to "for" us when we focus on things that truly motivate us and when we come to understand that perfection is the killer of progress.

    Embracing those recurring moments where ideas are born is something that can help you build a better relationship with your process. It helps you to be better prepared and to rest on something — instead of feeling the urge to poke at it endlessly — which makes for a more mindful outcome.

    My personal advice is that you live your life fully, and manifest your creativity by making sure that your focus is on things that move you... that you satisfy your curiosity and never stop working with your own set of skills and beliefs. Do not give up when you feel like you've hit a brick wall. Those obstacles are there to shape us, not to have us throw in the towel.

    Whatever you do, don't ever tether your creativity to praise — or the lack thereof. If you even subconsciously make it dependent on that, you will continuously sell yourself short. There's no hollower place to be than having your happiness lie at the whim of others.

    If what worries you the most is to either meet everyone's expectations (or to avoid criticism), maybe you need to realize that most people are so caught up in their own love affair with perfection to notice your "unforgivable" imperfections, that what you think are mammoth-size mistakes are really tiny specs of dust falling through cracks without anybody noticing them.

    So... be kind to yourself when it comes to judging your own work — and instead of resisting, open yourself up to other people judging it, otherwise you will never find the courage to put it out into the world, to be who you want to be and do what you want to do. And for God's sake! Be inevitably, unashamedly and humanly imperfect.

    Let your work flow and develop your style organically. Have the Universe know that you are up to the challenge.

    From my book 30 Days To Minimal Blogging — Chapter 10: "Creativity".


    BUY THE BOOK


  • A big thank you all of you who have once again made a new, breathtaking and responsive collection possible. Over the years, Blog Milk has had the best of clients in terms of encouragement and collaboration.

    This collection is to honor our clients who are constantly in search of beautifully elegant ways to express themselves. We felt the need to vindicate our minimalistic views and passion, and wanted to dispel the misconception that being a Minimalist deprives us of indulgence and that it is neither sustainable nor functional.

    My personal views on minimalism are exactly that: A way to sustain, simplify and make use of every last detail in a design. In this light, our new collection is crystal clean and makes it a cinch for both starter and pro-bloggers alike to use.

    I designed 6 new responsive and SEO friendly themes for you and we will only make available 15 issues of each theme. Each of these themes has everything you need: each in turn expressing itself distinctly, enhancing different areas of your content. We are incredibly proud to have created seamless canvasses, which our clients can put their very own mark on.

    The Wordpress themes in this collection are underway — and since we know a lot of you have been anxiously sitting tight for this news, we’ve wanted to launch a pre-sale. A new mailing list will be created for the clients who are re-ordering the themes and we will keep you informed each step of the way until you get your new theme in your inbox.

    All themes will be delivered between January 31st—February 13th and custom installations will also be scheduled upon completion.

    We absolutely know that this collection is going to knock your socks off.

    Feel free to continue to make requests and send us feedback. This one goes out to you.


    Ana Degenaar + The Blog Milk Team


  • Last week I launched 2 surveys via social media asking followers to tell me:

    1. What stops them from hiring a Designer to brand and design their blog for them.
    2. What they thought the fair price was for a well-designed blog.

    In conclusion, the surveys showed that the biggest problems were budget and vision. I completely understand where people are coming from. The reality is that custom designed blogs are becoming unnecessarily expensive and I continue to believe that’s due to the demand. As unfair as this may seem, I find it extremely exciting to see that in this social media age, blogs are still being created and developed into unbelievably profitable businesses.

    Let’s be realistic now — not everyone has the time, the vision nor the money to pay four figures for a custom designed blog... and nor should anyone who simply doesn’t want to make such an investment. Now, this is no reason to throw in the towel. A strong blog, friends, is a lot more than that.

    For those who are not in the position where a custom design is a necessity (or even if you’ve already had your blog designed), there are a few things you can do to better the general look of your blog without spending a penny.

    1. Vision
    Understanding the purpose of your blog will help you deliver quality content and build an image for yourself that people will be able to recognize and trust through and through. Vision is what takes you from wanting something to working for it — and this is in fact something I go through one-on-one with my clients when I do coaching.

    So ask yourself:

    What do you want to achieve with your blog?
    How do you want to be perceived?
    What’s the main adjective that describes your blog?

    Knowing that will establish you and reassure you in every decision you make and it will allow you to take your blog from where it is now to where you want it to be. So take your time and ponder on this. Commit to one idea and turn off all the noise telling you what to do. You already know what you have to offer, so don’t diminish that by ignoring your own vision.

    2. Audience
    Once you have vision, you need to know who you’re delivering content to. If you are yet to discover who your audience is, let me tell you, you’ve been missing out. Not having a clear understanding of this is exactly like making a dress for someone without having seen that person or asked for their measurements.

    Instead of shooting blanks, get to know who the people are who read you. I use all kinds of methods to do this: I look at social media, use analytics, launch a yearly survey and check for comments or emails from the people who read me — so I know my readers are:

    Mostly women between the ages of 18-37 who are currently making the switch to living a simpler and more mindful life through minimalism. 87% are Bloggers and the rest are planning to becoming one.

    What do you do with this information? You make the most of it by being of service to your readers, who in the end are the most important part of the foundation of a successful blog.

    3. Consistency
    Most blogs I see fail in practicing this one thing. We often want to do everything instead of understanding and making the most of our limitations. I’ve seen hundreds of beautifully designed blogs that butcher their image by not upholding consistency in 3 main areas:

    V I S U A L
    Your blog needs to be consistent visually no matter what. If you are trying to do it all, you will confuse your visitors and soon lose them because you’ll be sending them too many random messages. Here are the 3 main areas that need to make sense to better your image:

    Fonts: Use 2-3 fonts for your blog only. This improves the quality of your visual brand and it makes things look seamless so you are not distracting your readers with a million different looks. Use fonts that compliment one another — not just random ones you like. To aid you in this you can use the web to search for free web-font combinations.

    Colors: Choose 2-4 colors within a palette that compliments your brand and your vision. Most platforms allow you to change these easily. Use online applications like Colour Lovers to grab the HEX codes for each color and pick them strategically to use on your blog. For example: You want your links to be a different color than the text for easier access — so make them pop.

    Images: The images you use for your blog are a focal point — and the better the quality, the better your brand looks and the more chances you'll have to get attention from other Bloggers and potential clients. When choosing the images for a post, see to it that they have the same feeling as your brand and if they compliment the overall look, please, always — and I mean always: Make your photos line up with the blog post's width. This makes your blog look that much more cohesive and professional.

    C O N T E N T
    Your voice should be the same in every post you write and I’d advise you to write exactly the same way you speak to others. Personalizing this area of your writing process is key. People build an online relationship with you and they can recognize when you are trying too hard or not at all. Be mindful of the way you write and how much your write. We live in an information-polluted time, so people are becoming more mindful of the things that they dedicate their time to — so only things that are beneficial, honest and entertaining make it to their list.

    S C H E D U L E
    This is something we all struggle with at some point and I’m no one to say slips never happen, specially if you’re going through a hard time in your life or career... but it is possible to uphold a certain consistent posting schedule if you are realistic and make everything work for you instead of biting off more than you can chew. Ideally I’d like to post every day on the blog and commit to launching posts every morning between 8:00-10am — but as we all know, the process from ideation to completion is complicated. At this point in time in my life, I’ve realistically been holding myself accountable to a schedule I can manage. That’s 3 times per week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:00-2:00pm. If you commit to a schedule you can follow, you will be creating and meeting your readers' expectations with very targeted (and smart) effort.

    In a nutshell, your blog’s image is far more than just pretty graphics and catchy phrases. It’s the overall journey that you take your reader on and how you keep their attention. Committing to simple steps will take you a long way and show you the value of consistency and focused work, so that when you’re ready to have your blog designed, you'll find yourself working with it and not for it.

    Feel free to learn more about my book, 30 Days To Minimal Blogging and purchase it today. Your download will start automatically after checkout and you can jump into it as soon as you receive it.

    Photography: Marazzi with thanks.


  • The Blogging world — what a mystery, am I right? One day we seem to be riding an endless wave of opportunities and the next one we feel like we’ve hit a sand bar face first. This, believe or not, is a common sentiment among all bloggers, myself included.

    It’s no surprise that as our achievements ebb and flow, so does our passion and emotions about this career... and it’s a given that at some point we will all fall into a state of complete disinterest or anxiety about what the future has in store for us.

    The thing is, we get used to the feeling of sending things off to the virtual world and having an immediate reaction from people — we send off a picture on Instagram and like counts start rising, giving us a feeling of accomplishment. 

    Because of how automatic everything is nowadays, we forget how personal something like blogging is. Very unlike social media channels, blogging requires three things of you in order to get that feeling of satisfaction:

    1. That you have an unwavering mission
    2. That you know who you are in this story
    3. That you have a strategy to get you to where you want to be

    In my e-book, 30 Days To Minimal Blogging, I explain how essential mindfulness is in creating the blog of our dreams. That sense of awareness is what makes the difference in our lives day in and day out. It’s was solidifies that feeling of achievement even on days when nothing seems to be happening for us in this blogging career. Why? Because we know why we are doing this, who we want to be and how we will achieve it. There’s no undue fear... and that is a beautiful thing.

    I’ve personally learned a lot in my years of blogging. I’ve learned about quality. I've learned that follower counts say nothing, that value is hidden in things that touch every chord in our lives and hearts — and above all, I’ve learned the value of focusing my efforts and mapping my steps, so that I can not only give of my best, but I can also do so without fear, anxiety and uncertainty.


    “Although life and business are unpredictable, we need to set up a strategy (or safety net) to fall back on so we can continue to put one foot in front of the other without exhausting all of our resources and creating an antagonistic relationship with our work.

    Real entrepreneurs do not simply turn over every stone until they run out of options. They follow a blueprint and are systematic about what they do, so they can see what gives them result when. That's clever not only in the business sense, but also in the sense of providing value to your clients. My technique of poking at things and investing an excruciating amount of time, money and energy only paid off insofar as qualifying me to write a dissertation on “How to Try Anything and Everything — and Still Hit A Brick Wall”. Now I can sit here and tell you... that's not going to work for you. 

    I blame my lack of an immediate and appropriate response to the workaholic-glorified days we live in. Everything tells us to do more — which makes us feel lazy or guilty, because we think that productivity should always translate into money, lack ... ...of sleep or both. Thankfully, that is untrue — and we can still look at our future with the expectation of being successful and having something that more than resembles a life.”


    Excerpted from 30 Days To Minimal Blogging — Chapter “Strategy” Page 252


    If you feel like things have not been working out for you the way you wanted, it's important to understand that you haven't completely and utterly wasted your time...  you’ve actually gained more than you can imagine — and it can all pay off sooner rather than later. Right now, you can choose to throw in the towel... or you can do something unexpected and take a new approach to the blog you love so much.

    This is not about visualizing, it’s not about expecting returns by doing nothing — it’s about knowing what you’re doing in a state of full awareness and feeling every day that you are doing what you love, because you will be doing exactly that.

    Who of you feel like your efforts have not been paying off? Say “Me” in the comment section if you identify.

    Feel free to learn more about my book, 30 Days To Minimal Blogging and purchase it today. Your download will start automatically after checkout and you can jump into it as soon as you receive it.

    Photography: Kristina Krogh with thanks.


  • I wanted to tackle a topic that I know interests most of you and after a bit of lurking I came to the realization that Productivity is general concern, and rightly so. Most of us who blog are usually multi-passionate which puts a lot on our plates every single day.

    Having a custom strategy is important to ensure that you don't have deadlines coming out of your ears, it's also essential in preventing burn out – but sometimes just taking the time to build a realistic plan is far from possible.

    I'm not an expert when it comes to time management and productivity but I haven't gone insane... yet. I believe that at least qualifies me to tell you which bits and pieces of productivity advice have worked for me when I didn't have a strategy or at times when life's challenges have thrown that carefully planed structure out the window:

    01. Write Sh*t Down
    Dave Kolo's WSD productivity method is the thing that makes the most sense. If you have something in writing to remind you of what you're supposed to be doing and when you're supposed to do it chances are, you will do it.

    02. If it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now!
    Is part of Davi Allan's GTD philosophy. Why write it down or stress out about it when you can get it out of the way? Quick calls, short emails or even small household tasks. Get them out of the way before seeing them in writing overwhelms you. Now, this is only successful when you focus on 1-2 tasks. There's no point in this if you end up spending an hour doing 2-minute tasks.

    03. Eat your frogs
    "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." – Mark Twain.

    Certainly Mr. Twain didn't paint the prettiest picture but it's great advice for those of us who constantly feel pushed to the point of not knowing where to get started completing our tasks. Work on the most difficult task first.

    Simple.

    04. Focus
    This is something I've always done, even before reading more about productivity. My approach is similar to the Power Hour technique. It's about limiting yourself to focusing on one task for 1 hour – my only exception is that I change the time-frame according to my needs.

    This works only if I don't reply to messages, personal emails or even worry about other work that might be queued. If you're a natural multitasker and you're happy juggling things all the time, this will be difficult but it's done wonders for me.

    After completing the task, I allow myself the time for out-of-work activities for 10 minutes, I use those to stretch, fill up my water bottle or maybe send out a quick tweet about something completely unrelated to work and then carry on with the next task.

    05. Relax and drink water
    Believe or not one of the things that stop us from being highly productive is that we are in constant reaction mode, to the point in which our productivity becomes sporadic through out the day without letting us maintain a healthy pace.

    We're also trained to think that caffeine equals alertness, therefor ups our productivity. The reality is that caffeinated drinks not only make our stress hormone go off the charts it also dehydrates our bodies. Dehydration causes mental fatigue which results in lack of concentration. I make it an every day ritual to drink at least 2 liters of water and you should too.

    Not taking care of our minds and bodies is the perfect road to hitting brick-walls. When you are not working it is important that you give yourself true relaxation time, be as intentional with the "doing nothing" part as you are with the work. Make it a practical and mental exercise to disconnect from your lists and deadlines.

    Whether you want to take your weekend off or a couple of hours of your every day, this will change your complete approach.

    Try it.

    You can apply one or all of the tips above by determining if it fits your lifestyle or not. The key thing to understand is that we will either run our day or the day will run us. Reclaim your productive life back by making it work for you.

    How do you keep yourself from getting distracted throughout the day?

    For more advice, tips and a full productivity strategy: Purchase my book 30 Days To Minimal Blogging.

    Photography: Nina Holst with thanks.


  • Yesterday was one of the biggest days for me this entire year. I was finally able to finish my book! I can hardly believe it’s finished and that people are already buying it and commenting on it.

    I can tell you is it was a ride... the writing, the editing, the daily rush I felt, wanting this to be true to my story, to my practices and most importantly to the battles I’ve gone through since I started this mad career. I can truly say that I am thrilled with the result.

    I struggled for months trying to convince myself that I could do this and once I started writing, I was on a mission. I poured so much of myself into this book that last night, for the first time in months, I went to bed with the biggest of smiles on my face — grateful that I could do this and that this will forever bond the person who reads it to me and my story.

    You’re probably still wondering why 30 Days To Minimal Blogging and why I decided to write this. Well… we live in a world that is filled with the hustle mentality and I lived in a state of go, go go for a long time, only to find myself where everyone does at some point in this career (a rut). Minimalism and mindfulness have helped me change my entire approach and I’ve come to realize that I still have the same opportunities now that I did before.

    The book focuses on teaching you a practice a day. I touch on subjects that are inherently important in any blogger’s life and at the end of each chapter you find a quick worksheet that helps you put into practice what we have covered that day. My hope is that people are patient enough to embark on this with me one day at a time — not skipping chapters and not doing more than one chapter a day.

    Mindfulness and focus are life-altering practices and that’s what I want you to take away from this book — apart from the hands-on practicalities of monetization, SEO practices, branding, etc. I want bloggers to be able to feel their shoulders relax, to have peace of mind every single day that they are doing the right things, that we don’t find ourselves in a world of trying to rack up numbers... but rather creating community.

    You’ll also find interviews with some of my favorite influencers in the Minimalism world. I had the best time reading their replies and experiencing that wonderful side of this world where people still want to be a part of each others' lives and projects. A big thank you to Satsuki Shibuya, Jennifer Hagler, Darren Firth, Carl Barenbrug, Caroline Birk... and last but not least, Karine Kong who never hesitated to jump into this adventure with both feet with me.

    This book is neither spiritual, self-improvement-oriented, nor just a practical guide. It will definitely guide you, inspire you and give you a new approach to your career... but that is only because you will find those things within yourself as you work through it.

    I can’t wait for you to read it. I can’t wait for you to experience it and to get your feedback. That will have made all those hours, the countless batteries I had to buy these months, the crashing of computers and the sacrifice of my beach time worth more than you can imagine.

    Feel free to purchase the book below or learn more about it in the shop. Only for today, use the code: THANKFUL to get a 10% discount.

    Thank you for sticking around while I was gone. There are more exciting things to come on the blog now that this little nugget is out.

    Love and light,
    Ana


  • When it comes to leading a balanced life, I'm a true believer that while this is a very romanticized and idealistic thought in my own personal life, perfect balance is seldom achieved. This would mean I'd have to give equal attention to everything and everyone at all times... and being that circumstances are constantly changing, this might never be the case.

    The reality is that we only look for balance because we live in constant pressure. If we learn to live intentionally we immediately take that out of the equation and automatically learn to live in the in-between.

    A couple of years ago, I was working 20-hour days both at home and outside of home and doing extra hours, often consisting of 8 hours on a Saturday and 8 on a Sunday. Needless to say, I didn't need to have someone telling me I was going to have a breakdown. I did. 


    Life and work are sometimes a matter of redefining and reshuffling to me. The same way I rearrange my living room, I rearrange the how, when and where I do things. Focusing too much on balance itself deviates from doing what’s important when it's needed.


    I’ve always thought about this subjet with a bit of guilt - that is until I realized there's nothing wrong with shifting my focus and giving my undivided attention to what feels to be the most important thing to me at that time. In order to do that, I needed to learn not only to be very perceptive and aware of the needs of those around me, but also my own needs. 


    For the most part, this advice will sound like a list of no-brainers but more often than not it’s the simplest, most practical things that we overlook that brings us the highest benefits:

    You
    The first shift you need to make is realizing that taking care of yourself is not selfishness – it in fact allows you a sense of readiness when it comes to taking care of things and people other than yourself. There's no point in trying to achieve so much and slide towards a breakdown.

    Limits
    Just as kids need boundaries, we – the infamous breed of workaholics, also need them: carefully planned 8-10 hour work-days with breaks in between and a way to draw a line between work time and personal time are crucial.

    I’m not saying you should have it all together but you should strive every day to see your work tools (desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone) as your "place of work", understanding that if you’re off the clock, you shouldn't even be near those tools. Making a pledge to simple shifts like: Neither will you eat at your desk nor take it with you while I'm on holiday.

    
Move
    Although I find exercise to be of utmost importance in my life, this point has nothing to do with it. It has to do with being stuck in your office for long periods of time.

    This little change will make an incredible difference in your life.

    I frequently use my office for my design work but once I'm in the replying to emails stage, I move to a different location every day. I set my times and I dedicate myself to that – fully aware of what I’m doing.

    These tiny shifts of location can help you, honestly, not to lose your mind.

    Relax
    When a pressing matter consumes your every waking moment or you get sick (as with every other human being), you need to learn to listen what your body is trying to tell you. Be safe that the internet will be OK without you and that you will be OK without it.

    If something goes terribly wrong, then you'll have the time to explain yourself, apologize and move on. Of course, I could only get to this point after getting sick and realizing that although I am a very responsible and hardworking person, we all experience misfortune and have our ups and downs.

    There’s a time to be productive but there’s also a time to feed our bodies and our souls and the latter shouldn't be at the mercy of how much we are able to get done in a day.


    Wrap It Up
    At the end of each day, go through all the things in your productivity list. If there are things you didn't manage to do within those 8-10 hours, simply move them to the next day.

    Closing off your day means you have already gone through your set work hours and that you need to regroup. Forcing yourself to work further can result in sloppy work and work that you’re not proud of. Don't be ashamed to log out – confident that you did everything you could and enjoy some special time of cell regeneration, otherwise known as sleep. 


    Restart
    When you start your days, Do not jump in with both feet too fast. Waking up early and allowing yourself a leeway of 30 minutes to 1 hour can benefit you more and make your mind and home less frantic in the morning.

    Easing into your routine is something you can condition yourself to. Maybe even try a few minutes of meditation, sitting in the quiet and stillness of the morning. 


    After these bits of advice, the most important advice I always give, is to do whatever's best for you and your family. Remember that all of this will one day pass... so treasuring everything in the mix, not only work is important. 


    Be honest to yourself and to the ones who rely on you. You cannot do everything but you sure can do enough.

    How do you maintain balance?

    Photography: Ana Degenaar (From my latest roadtrip).


  • If you are a Blog Milk reader or client, chances are you are part of the growing percent of the world’s population who has an interest in Minimalism. Though Minimalism is not new, it’s been highly popularized these days by a wave of brilliantly detailed designed products - from physical products to virtual goods, minimalism is all around us.

    In my journey with Minimalism I’ve understood several key things – The most important one being that Minimalism is not the lack of something but a focus on the things that are of utmost importance.

    As a Designer, one of my biggest concerns when creating items for Blog Milk is to be able to add value to every section of a blog or website. It’s not just about having less but about having a reason behind everything that will exist on your blog. The more emphasis those elements have, the more and better results you get - this is not to say that visuals are everything, they’re not... but they’re definitely the first thing that attracts a visitor.

    There’s a misconception that Minimalism deprives us of emotion, of color, femininity or warmth - this is far from the truth: Minimalism can also be all of that. It’s the interconnection of things which you display what gives you (1) the readers, (2) the clicks, (3) the followers and (4) eventually the great relationships that we’re able to create through Blogging.

    In the years that I’ve grown in this Minimalism world and challenged myself to create better themes with each collection, I’ve realized that people who dip their toes into the Minimalism world won’t look back any time soon. The effect that Minimalism has in someone’s life is far more beneficial than anything that we can ever accumulate - as it has an inherent way of allowing us to do more and achieve more while doing and having less.

    Whether you have a Blog Milk theme or not here are 3 steps you can take in order to achieve focus in your Blogging career:

    Visual Focus

    Allow more negative space in your visuals. The spacing between each element, image or text can create a perfect experience for the reader so they can easily drive their focus to x object and truly submerge themselves in it. Negative space simple refers to the space that it's unused. The more breathing space you give your images and text, the better the experience for the visitor.

    Content Focus

    Mean what you say. Always make sure that you’re giving the readers valuable information or entertaining content without adding to the already noisy world of information we live in. Draw a simple template for your posts by simply answering questions about any given topic. e.g. If I talk about a new shop or brand, I'd ask myself basic but purpose-driven questions like:


    Who? created or established the brand
    Where? is it located
    What? do they create
    Why? do I think it has value

    Process Focus

    Always, and I mean always: Plan ahead. Think about what your next week will look like at the beginning of Friday and settle on x amount of posts to publish. Commit to those without stressing about how much more you could be doing if you had to sacrifice more time. This guarantees that those x amount of posts that will go live are going to be of quality and value to your readers.

    This is just one of the topics that I’ll be diving deeper into in my book it's something that's easy to do and increases our ability to produce and impact your readers in a very positive way. This content is also part of what I share via newsletter every Wednesday. If you haven't signed up yet, you are missing out. I hope to see you there next Wednesday for a special edition.

    As always, let me know your thoughts on this.

    Graphic: Ana Degenaar
    Photograhy: Chris Tonnesen
    Styling:Per Olav Sølvberg

  • 5 Ways Minimalism Can Change Your Life
    Minimalism is getting to be one of those things that people either hate or live by. I’m one of those who lives by it - and though there are many ways it’s changed my life and turned it around for the best, I'm going to give you 5 reasons why you should at least be up to giving it a try before you knock it.


    What is minimalism?
 

    Minimalism, by definition, is a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.


    This might be where people say, "Wait, what?!" - Let’s face it, no one wants to live in "extreme spareness" - but how can having and doing less give you more? I agree that minimalism is simple... but it’s not in any way deprived of value. In fact, minimalism is a tool that can help every area of your life because it’s all about maximizing your outcomes with less effort.


    I personally see it as a state of mindfulness in which you are able to live your life in a rich, effortless and more fulfilled way.


    What can minimalism do for you?
 

    1. Give you more energy

    Minimalism helps you declutter you life in general, it helps you to be more mindful of the things you dedicate yourself to, the things you attain and the effort you spend taking care of anything - whether material or otherwise. The less you have on your plate, the more energy you can focus on those things that will truly make an impact in your life.


    2. Give you more time

    Minimalism changes your life by teaching you how to use your time more effectively and it frees up a crapload of that time so that you don’t always feel spent. Minimalism dispels the myth of the "glamour" that many relate to living as workaholics. It teaches you the value of time well used and the necessity of taking time out to do nothing at all.


    3. Give you more money

    The less money you spend on trivial things, the more money you can save or invest in things that are going to be of value. That will improve the quality of your life. It helps you understand that everything you purchase at some point will either break, need maintenance or wear out - and it instantly helps you make the right decisions when it comes to spending. Think about it as the voice of reason. How many times have you worried about not being able to afford something important because you’ve spent your money on superfluous stuff? I know you know what I'm talking about.


    4. Give you more quality

    Minimalism allows you to create a life of quality: It organizes and adds breathing space to every area of your life - from your home to your mind. It allows you to let go of material things and notions that have been weighing you down. The more you allow it to fill your life, the more you'll enjoy your life (and those who are part of it).


    5. Give you more peace

    Focus is a side effect of decluttering your life. With that comes peace - an inner feeling of satisfaction and certainty that you are taking the right steps and the right decisions for you and the ones you love - that you are living within your means and that you are being productive and present. Simply, it helps you sleep better at night.


    I can assure you that the benefits of minimalism far exceed the effort of undergoing a shift in perspective - letting go of the things or practices you might be convinced are the right way to do things right now. It’s up to each person to find their way through it: Start with what makes you feel the most comfortable and see how it adds more value to your life... and before long you’ll reap the rewards of making those simple shifts - and you’ll start experiencing the 5 things listed above.


    Now, which side are you on in the minimalism battle?


    Photo: Studio Kalliomäki

  • Change Is Coming
    Over the past years, I’ve been in what I consider a privileged position of watching along intently, as people get introduced to the blogging world and break stereotypes, barriers and trends. I've invested my life in working with you one on one - and for over a year now I've had the desire to offer those who want to better their changes in this field with more than just a lovely website layout. I want to be able to do more, and for that reason I started writing a book that is almost finished and waiting for the final stages. Once this is published I will continue to send weekly and monthly workshops, newsletters and tips to those who want to learn more about building their career, hear real-life stories of gosh-darn real people and learn more about minimalism. Please join our growing group and sign up here. To start we will surprise one of our friends with a free theme this week. I'm grateful for those who will join me on this journey and I thank you for allowing me to share this with you. Love and Light, Ana.

    WHAT NOW? SIMPLE, ALL IT TAKES IS YOU EMAIL: PLEASE, ADD YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS AND HIT ENTER TO JOIN.



  • Eat Healthy
    Life has been specially busy lately, I'm still struggling with time-management and recovering for catching the newest bug going around in Northeast Brazil, ah! the joys of living in the paradise. With all the running around and catching up I've had to do, eating healthy and having a consistent workout routine hasn't been a priority.

    I'm one of those annoying people who love the start of a week. I thrive on Mondays, true fact. I love feeling like it's all starting over and that I get a chance to make adjustments to get better at what I do, from my job to all the little life things I have going on... All that to say this latest project by the lovely Line Klein has inspired me to eat healthier this week and make sometime for myself and my workouts.

    Line took personal trainer's Anne Bech cookbook photos and let me just say. Yes! That's what eating healthy should look like, every time. May next week be beautiful and kind to all of us.

    Photography: Line Klein


  • N E W S A L E
    I hope that each one of you is having a wonderful day today, why wouldn't we, right? It's Friday after all. I wanted to take some time to thank all of you who have helped us on our research, who've completed our surveys and sent suggestions via email. We would not continue to do this is it weren't for you. The Sale we posted early last week is still going and we are planning to update the themes as they get sold out. Keep an eye on that, some of your favourite themes might be seen there for only $35. Again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Love and light your way. xx Ana

  • How To Curate Better Blog Content
    Much like magazine editors, Bloggers have to be on top of our game and know about current events and trends that are in sync with our style and vision but as important as that is, curating content is not only about that. The process of content curation is all about caring for those things that you are deciding to showcase on your blog, in fact, the Latin meaning for the word Curae is: Care.

    Here are 5 tips to take better care when you curate:

    Be Yourself
    It is key that you understand what your style is in this story. That will automatically discard a million subjects and ideas that will not resonate with your readers and yourself. Being yourself is also important because that is the only way that you will be able to back up and defend what you post. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder and people might not agree with your opinion sometimes. Make sure everything you share reflects you.


    Be Current
    Among all the beautiful things that are out in this virtual world, there are many that are lovely... but outdated. People, myself included, get excited about current things. It's part of our nature. Make sure you are current so people can relate to your content.


    Be Fearless
    I used to be very worried about stepping on people's toes. Saying the wrong thing or posting something that someone would find offensive worried me to no-end (let's say a nipple shot) to the point of keeping me up at night. Truth is just as in large online publications, each article is a representation of trends, art and personal likes. Depriving yourself from posting something that is not damaging, racist and offensive, but simply different, is a huge disservice. There a millions of Bloggers out there now. All of whom are trying to be original. The best road to take is that of being yourself and going with your gut.


    Be Picky
    If I could count the many things I've liked and loved over the past years, that I've ended up not sharing on my blog, there would be enough to put even the most obsessive Instagrammer to shame. Yes, there are many things I'm passionate about - but are not part of my editorial because either the story behind it or the images made for that specific project or product do not grab me as much as the idea itself. Being picky is a must. It's one more way to make sure you can stand behind what you post about and make sure you are open and loyal to your readers. 


    Be Passionate
    Love what you post about and be curious enough to want to know more about them. For me, there's no worse thing than trying to be enthusiastic about something I don't fully love. Lack of passion is evident to those who visit you daily. Make sure you give them your own point of view and connect them to those things you love.

    You don't have to be an Artist to be able to curate. We all see beauty in our own way and that's our power. Do not compare your abilities to anyone else. Put blinders on those blogs that you so fiercely admire and start creating a story of your own, your opinions and passions matter and they bring something new to the blogging world.

    Photography: Auréien Brion and Ikea






  • Wallpapers by Cocorina
    Hi everyone! This is Corina from cocorrina.com My calendar says that today is the first day of Spring, and oddly enough it’s the first sunny day we’ve had on my island in about a month. Hope you’re having a really awesome, sunny springy day. To get your desktop in the mood, i created a couple of wallpapers with a bit of love for sunlight and new beginnings. Enjoy!!

    Links to download wallpapers: Heliophilia • New beginnings

    A huge thank you to Corina for working on these beautiful wallpapers for Blog Milk and for guest-posting today. Loved having you here.


  • M u s i c   M o n d a y
    It will be November in just a couple of days and as I face the fact that this year ran like water through my fingers I decided that for what's left of 2014 I'm going to go with the flow. Resisting makes no sense at this point, does it? So, I'm taking it a day at a time and working on some exciting projects with the thought in mind that sooner than later I'll be yelling Happy New Year! while sipping on bubbly. In between then and now, I'll make a couple more music mixes, take a few trips, spend some time with friends and enjoy life. Here are some songs I've been enjoying lately:


    Monday
    01 Happy Little Pill - Troye Sivan
    02 Leave Me Alone (feat. Shay Lia) - Kaytranada
    03 Like Lust - Movement
    04 With Me - Cashmere Cat
    05 Sleep Sound - Jamie xx
    06 Don't Wanna Be Your Girl - Wet
    07 Bendin' - Richelle
    08 Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar) - Flying Lotus
    09 Attak (feat. Danny Brown) - Rustie
    10 Fancy Forty - Lunice

    Listen to this mix and happy week!
    01

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