Finnish tech entrepreneur Ulla Engeström is the innovative creator and CEO of ThingLink, an interactive media platform that allows brands to add media links to photos and videos to enhance their website experience. With four million online publishers, educators, and brands on board, ThingLink adds an extra layer of information to countless images.
We checked in with the Palo Alto-based entrepreneur, wife, and mother of three to see how she winds down on the weekends and what she does to reset for the week ahead.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
If nobody else is awake, I put on my headphones and listen to my audiobooks. I’m currently listening to Seveneves by Neil Stephenson, and it’s amazing! If I’m on morning duty with the kids, I open the back doors to the garden, give them blankets, and serve tea and toast outside in the brisk morning air. On a lucky day, we may have a nice quiet 30 minutes together before everyone goes about their routines or weekend projects.
What are your favorite things to do for yourself on the weekends?
The busier you get, the more you need uninterrupted periods of complete disconnection, preferably outside in the fresh air. I’ve also made a conscious effort to decrease the amount of news and social media that I consume to give myself a break. Being from Finland, my absolute favorite weekend plan is a combination of hiking and relaxing in a sauna with a cold pool nearby to jump in. An added bonus is a date night with my husband, drink some port wine, eat cheese, and chat about one day building our own house!
How do you deal when you’re away for the weekend?
I try to travel during the week and be home with my family on the weekends. When one of us is out of town, the other parent holds down the fort. Our parents also visit for longer periods of time, and that opens up a whole new level of flexibility to the everyday logistics.
What are the activities or errands on your “must-accomplish list” every weekend?
It’s funny—when you grow up, and your mom tries to plant routines like “start the dishwasher in the evening, so you have clean mugs and plates in the morning” or “always keep soup in the fridge,” and you think, “what does it matter when you start the dishwasher?” Then, when you live in a household with two working parents and three kids, those little routines are necessary and make everyday work easier.
My weekend must-accomplish is to get outdoors and run small errands on Saturday and to cook and listen to audiobooks on Sunday. We try not to over-program weekends but instead try to relax.
What do you do on Sundays to prepare for the week ahead?
My husband does most of the cooking during weekends, which helps me get ready for the week ahead. He has every kitchen appliance that you can imagine, including a crock-pot, which turned out to be an excellent way to cook for the first few meals during the week. It’s important also to take time for yourself to reflect on your week. Two or three hours of time when you can read and write down thoughts and ideas, make music, or listen to podcasts. That gives me the energy needed for the week.
Published on April 28, 2017