In 2018, I chose sunny Portugal for remote work as it is affordable, has reliable WiFi throughout the country, friendly locals, and incredibly beautiful nature spots. It was also highly recommended on Nomadlist as being safe and welcoming for women traveling alone. As I’ve visited Lisbon before, this time I decided to start my trip from colorful and eclectic Porto, which fascinating history and ‘old-world’ vibe made it a wonderful place to combine remote work with a little adventure.

Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal and has been an important center for trade for centuries. During The Age of…


Photo by Annelies Geneyn on Unsplash

“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.”

How to Love” is a book on mindfulness in relationships by Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, and peace activist. It is a part of a short series of his books called “Mindfulness Essentials” which provides the essentials of mindfulness practice to sustaining and nurturing love and happiness.

But first, why a book about love? Do we need to learn how to love?

The research of various psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, anthropologists, and educators shows that like we “learn” to be human, we also learn to love. Love…


Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain

This year I’ve decided to focus on one important area in my mindfulness practice every month. I do not set specific goals for that, it’s more about setting time aside for exploring things that are important for my mental health, relationships, and happiness.

In January I chose to focus on practicing forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the most healing values we humans possess that can positively impact our lives, our happiness, and the happiness of people in our lives.

Practicing forgiveness is choosing…


Why marketers and designers should work closely together from day one when building products.

At many companies, designers keep the marketing team at arm’s length. As a marketer, I have worked with different clients and teams and I can’t recall how many times I’ve been faced with “We’ve built a great product. Now we just need to add marketing” problem.

At The Gradient, however, we’ve found that a product team has the most success when marketers and designers work closely together, from ideation to execution. We consider involving marketers in the design process to be essential to a successful product.


In May, we made a spontaneous trip to Paris with my best friend Kate. As Hemingway has said it: ‘there is never any ending to Paris’ . It was not my first trip to Paris, but every single one is inspired by ‘Poems of Paris’, ‘Down and Out in Parisor rereadingA Moveable Feast’.

The first highlight of our trip was a visit to Shakespeare & Company, a legendary bookstore that was a hangout place for the Lost Generation writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Joyce. …


How we took up the challenge to take the pain out of keeping your contacts up to date and organized.

Expertise: UX Strategy, UX /UI Design, User Testing, Digital Branding, Requirements Management, Product Management, Product Marketing.

Project Team: Agency Partner, Product Designer, Business Analyst, Product Manager/ Product Marketer.

Platforms: iOS and Android.

The brief

There is a reason why almost every time a ‘personal CRM’ product comes out, it says it takes the pain out of managing personal contacts. Contact management space is a common problem, and only growing larger.

Today, we communicate with people across various communication platforms, including emails, messengers…


Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Sometimes, outside circumstances can cause a loss. Other times, we cause ourselves to lose people that mean the most to us.

Often, we treat people as if they’re always going to be around us all the time because we are convinced that they’re not going anywhere.

We could all get hit by our own ignorance or selfishness. We don’t tell them the things that truly matter. Words that will bring sunshine to their days. Small acts that are going to make their hearts warm. We act like they’re not special to us.

What if tomorrow when we wake up, they’re…


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An old monk traveled from afar seeking advice from the Abbess. He explained that all his life he had used stories to tell himself and others who he was. He lived in some stories for decades. When eventually a story proved hollow and meaningless he wound find another belief, another religion, another role.

He told the Abbess, “Buddhism and being a monk has been my story for the last thirty years, but now I’ve let go of even that story. With no story I don’t know who I am. How can I live when I don’t have story?”

Gently the…


Remote work is recognized as one of the most effective models of work. Companies like Basecamp, Doist, Github, Zapier, and Buffer prove that remote teams can be tremendously successful.

While we already covered the benefits of running a distributed team, there are some trade-offs that need to be mentioned too. The timezone difference is one of the main problems faced by distributed teams. For example, the seven-hour time difference is what 37Signals had to cope with, mention Basecamp founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson in their bestselling book ‘Remote: Office is not required’.

The difference in time affects communication…


Doist team

Alex Muench is a Product Designer at Doist, a remote-first company that builds productivity software to ‘help people do more and stress less’. Their main products are Todoist and Twist apps, used by millions of people.

The Doist team of 62 people is working from more than 26 countries! The company is well-known for being an advocate of remote work — independent of borders and time zones– as the future of work.

Alex works both on Todoist and Twist apps, and his design team is spread across 5 countries and 4 time zones. In our interview, Alex shares what it…

Aleksandra Smelianska

We are the stories we tell to ourselves.

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