things i’m working on

things i’m working on.

You know I love to celebrate a victory here on the blog. My most recent goals recap was — admittedly — chock full of humble brags… and I’m OK with that! I think we should all feel empowered to share our successes with each other, as long as we’re creating space for others to do the same. Basically, you can (and should) humble brag whenever you feel is appropriate, just as long as you’re prepared to throw a little humble brag party and invite all of your friends.

If I’m going to be open about my successes, though, I also think it’s important to be open about the things that I could be doing better. And with life being so crazy right now — in all the best ways, with weddings and exciting work opportunities and our big apartment move around the corner — there are definitely places where I feel like I’ve been coming up short recently. We can’t do it all, right?

With that in mind, here are a few things that I’m currently working on.

I’m working on getting back to a healthy, positive, consistent place with blogging and my personal social media. I feel like the blog has really suffered since I launched the podcast, and since I’m now managing multiple social media channels for SSR, I’ve also stopped posting to my personal Instagram… which I typically love doing! I need to figure out how to balance my passion projects with my day job, and I need to work on finding a healthier relationship with social media, more generally. I’m a firm believer that Instagram can be a positive place that’s not about obligation or posting a certain number of times per week. It’s hard to live that, though, when so much of your work overlaps with social media. I think I can get back there eventually. Maybe I just needed to step back for a bit.

I’m working on finding peace with a little bit of uncertainty. Our move is now a little less than four weeks away (which, if you can believe it, is actually a really long lead time here in New York City!), and since we’re traveling every weekend between now and then, I’m having a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the fact that this transition is actually going to happen and picturing what it’s going to look like when it does. I think I need to just get comfortable with that reality for now and enjoy all the exciting celebrations we have in the meantime.

I’m working on eating cleaner. I let myself get into some not-so-great snacking habits earlier in the summer, and I’m finally coming out of it now and feeling better.

I’m working on not stressing about how “well” the podcast is doing. Fun fact: it’s really hard to find metrics about your podcast, and since I’m a bit of a control freak, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t really hard for me not to have a better handle on how the show is actually growing. But I’m working on it!

I’m working on packing and organizing small nooks of our apartment as we go. Under-the-bathroom-sink cabinet, why must you be so daunting?

I’m working on screen time. Aren’t we all always working on screen time? Matt and I have both been working a lot after-hours recently, so it feels like it’s easier to always have our computers and phones in front of us. I need to get back in touch with that part of myself that shuts down work at a certain time, no matter how easy it is to try to squeeze in one. more. thing in front of the TV at night. When we move into our new place, I think we can really try to redraw the boundaries… and when we get our puppy, we’re going to have to change things up : )

I’m working on my hair. (See — it’s not all super serious!) With all the humidity and rain we’ve had here recently, it’s been in a messy bun 99 percent of the time these past few weeks. Eventually, I’m going to have to do something about that.

I’m working on finding more time to enjoy random articles and essays online. I talked about this in my most recent goals post, but I want to do a better job of consistently reading work from the outlets I want to write for. It’s important field research!

I’m working on not staring obsessively at the giant pile of half-packed boxes sitting in my office at the moment. (That’s not going very well.)

I’m working on staying further ahead of my reading schedule for SSR so I’m not cramming reading sessions — and then research sessions, which take longer than you might think! — the night before a recording. Last-minute is so not my style.

I’m working on stretching more consistently, since I’ve been running again.

I’m working on getting less freaked out about my inbox. HELP.

What are you working on? Tell me more in the comments below and we can keep each other accountable! 

0 comment

finding a summer state of mind.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while (first of all — thank you!), you might remember that my first summer as a freelancer in 2017 proved a bit of a challenge.

I came out of a corporate job that was wildly generous with its benefits, one of the biggest of which was summer Fridays. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, all employees would work an extra hour Monday through Thursday, then leave at lunchtime on Friday. The hours themselves were great, but the spirit of summer Fridays bled into the culture of the company for the whole summer. Obviously, we worked hard in the summer months, but everyone felt a little lighter. The promise of a shorter workday on Fridays changed the whole tone of our weeks. It was kind of the best.

Summer Fridays aren’t unusual here in New York City, and many of my friends have adjusted schedules at this time of year, so when I watched last year as my pals began posting photos of Friday afternoon happy hours and regular long weekend trips, I couldn’t help but feel bummed out. Yes, I had left my former job with eyes wide open about the benefits I was losing, but giving up summer Fridays felt particularly sad.

You’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “But you work for yourself! Don’t you have full control of your schedule?”

Well, you’re right and you’re wrong. Freelancing is kind of funky, because while I don’t technically have a Boss (yes, with a capital B), I still work for plenty of people, and I’m constantly hustling to deliver work to those people on time and to put myself in front of other people who might be interested in hiring me in the future. I don’t quite have the flexibility that other entrepreneurs (in the truer sense of the word) have, because I don’t get to call all of the shots in my work. I probably call about half of them. Once I’m in a successful business relationship with an editor or client — which is obviously my goal — there are only so many liberties I can take with my schedule and workload. Since I’m always balancing a handful of clients and a lot of deadlines with my own passion projects, that can mean that I’m working 60-65 hour weeks… even in the summertime.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this last summer. A few of my freelancer friends and I even thought about trying to hold each other accountable for taking summer Fridays and granting ourselves a little more down time! That didn’t quite work out, and since I have even more on my plate this summer, it’s not exactly happening in 2018, either. Still, we’re now halfway through the summer (?!?!?!), and I want to find small ways to make the season feel more special, even if I can’t take a ton of extra time off. Ever since I started working from home, I find that minor changes to my routine can make all the difference!

Here are a few of my ideas for finding those summer vibes even in the craziness. Maybe they’ll be helpful to you if you don’t have any big trips planned or are feeling overwhelmed by work, too : )

1. Get outside. It sounds simple, but making a point to step outside of my home office is big for me. Summer in the city can be hard because there’s not a ton you can do to minimize the heat, but I walk to and from The Wing whenever I can, and if I know I have a crazy day head of me, I’ll take an extra lap or two around the block on my way to the gym in the morning.

2. Treat myself more often. I’m naturally pretty frugal, and one of my biggest concerns when I started working from home was that I would constantly be tempted to buy myself lunches, Starbucks, etc. This summer, I’ve been allowing myself a few extra indulgences — especially strawberry bubble tea from the Vietnamese restaurant under our apartment! These drinks are a great way to cool down, and they taste like summer to me.

3. More date nights. Summer is one of the best times to live in New York (as miserable as the heat can be), because it’s easier than ever to explore your neighborhood. Matt and I have been making it a priority to go out more frequently on weeknights, even if it’s just on a walk to the bookstore or to get an ice cream cone. There will be plenty of time to curl up on the couch and watch TV in the winter!

4. Get dressed up. If you work from home, you know all too well how easy it is to keep things casual — to put it generously — in your day-to-day life. Most of the time, if I don’t have meetings or events, I throw on a pair of leggings and a sweatshirt and call it a day… but I’m trying to do that less this summer. I always get such a boost in confidence at this time of year, so I’ve gotten reacquainted with my closet and have been much more likely than usual to actually put on an outfit, even if I’m planing to work out of the apartment. I still don’t wear a ton of makeup most days (better for my skin that way!), but fully embracing my boho style with maxi dresses and long skirts and rompers on a daily basis has been really fun.

5. Drinks! A few months ago, I stopped drinking almost entirely. I’ve never been a huge drinker, but in the late winter and early spring, I was finding that even a glass or two of alcohol here and there was seriously messing with my stomach and giving me a raging headache. I don’t think I’ll ever be someone who likes to drink a lot, but I love me some rosé and girly cocktails in the summer — our summer social life in the city involves a lot of rooftops, and a girl needs rosé on a roof! — so I started working the occasional drink back into my rotation a few weeks ago. It hasn’t been making me feel sick… only celebratory!

What do you do to capture summer vibes? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

0 comment

things i’m working on.

Matt and I are home from Chicago after a weekend of friends and cold temperatures! If it wasn’t so far away from family and so chilly for so much of the year, I think we would seriously consider making that our next move. Having spent a very formative summer at Northwestern University between my junior and senior years of high school, I have a lot of really significant memories of Chicago, and as an adult, I see even more how much the city has to offer. It’s a little (maybe a lot) more low key than New York, but has a similar diversity of neighborhoods, plus so many things to do and see. We’re heading back there for a wedding in August and I’m excited to have a chance to explore even more when the weather is warmer. I’ve heard that summer in Chicago is the very best! I already have a list of things I want to check out on our next trip : )

As fun as the trip was, it was also the kick-off to a hectic few months of travel and events for us, and as my plane started to land at Laguardia, I couldn’t help but find myself starting to stress over the state of the calendar from now until May. Most of what we have coming up is good, but chaos is chaos, and for me, it’s important to spend some time really getting my head right before starting an especially busy time. With that in mind, there are a few things I’m working on that I think will help me keep my cool as we enter the craziness of spring (if only we could get some spring weather, too!)…

I’m working on having a better attitude about social media. I’ve been so focused recently on setting boundaries with my phone that I’ve gotten away from the fun parts of Instagram, which is a platform that I genuinely enjoy. I want to put less pressure on myself and strike a better balance.

I’m working (as always) on improving my pitching skills! I need to get back in a better routine of reading more content from different outlets so that I can come to my editors with fresh and creative ideas.

I’m working on giving myself more time to unwind in bed with a good book at night.

I’m working on being a clearer communicator with pretty much everyone in my life. I need to do a better job of telling people what I need.

I’m working on reintegrating workouts outside of my half marathon training into my routine. Running is going great so far this year, but I’d like to find time to work in some lower-impact activities, too.

I’m working on getting back into Pinterest! I fully revamped my profile and would love for you to give me a follow here.

I’m working on comparing myself less to other writers. Social media does not help with the whole comparison game.

I’m working (with Matt) on getting date nights back on the calendar, especially as we head into this season of craziness!

I’m working on learning to see some things in my work as experiments. They don’t always need to be perfect, as long as they help me learn how to do better next time.

I’m working on overbooking myself a little less during the week : )

I’m working on saying “I’m proud of you” less, because I read somewhere that — even though it’s a nice thing to hear! — it also kind of makes someone else’s accomplishments about you, and I just thought that was sort of interesting. I want to find other, better ways to communicate the same feeling.

I’m working on worrying less about the specifics of the future and instead having faith in the bigger picture of what’s to come.

Did you miss last week’s announcement about the March giveaway? 

There’s still time to enter… and you should, because Hannah Howard‘s Feast is better and better with every. single. page.

51SgIS4iyCL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

I want you all to have a chance to win a copy of your very own! The details about the the book (which happens to be Hannah’s debut) are available here, and all you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner this coming Friday 3/30, so don’t miss your chance to enter ASAP!

And finally…

Some of you tuned in last week for Brittney and my free webinar. It was so great to have you! We had about 50 people register and Brittney and I loved the opportunity to share the basics of storytelling as it relates to PR and getting media mentions for small businesses and side hustles. GREAT NEWS! We have another free webinar planned for TOMORROW, Wednesday 3/28 at 8 p.m. EST. Part two of the series is called Partnering for Press: Why You Need to Cultivate Authentic Relationships with Journalists + How to Get Started and you can register (for free!) right here for more helpful PR tips and for a peek behind the freelancer/entrepreneur curtain. Can’t wait to see you there!

Facebook March 28 Chapter 2-4 (1)

2 Comments

setting phone boundaries.

After my most recent monthly goals post, I got questions from a few readers about the all-too-tricky question of phone boundaries. One of my goals for January was to stop checking my phone — specifically, Instagram — before getting out of bed in the morning, which I noted was part of a larger transition I’m trying to make away from being so tied to my phone and all that comes with it. It sounds like I’m not the only one trying to make these strides, so I thought I’d go ahead and share a few of the other specific things I’ve been doing to try to adjust my phone habits.

I’ll start by saying that, relative to the other people in my circles, I wouldn’t call myself super dependent on my phone. I’m not one to download a lot of apps, and I primarily use my phone for calling, texting, listening to podcasts, watching Hulu at the gym, and (of course) checking social media. At the moment, I don’t have a single game installed, and most of the apps on the second screen (when you swipe to the left) of my phone are rarely touched. I spend all of my days in front of my laptop alone, fielding communication from people in seemingly endless digital forms, so I really don’t crave more of that in my spare time — at least, not outside of talking to my family and friends.

XL7GN0tsQxu%zXisEGG%zw_thumb_6c8

All of that being said, I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t love the mindless Instagram scroll or a quick Twitter check-in during a free moment. Catching up on my Instagram feed first thing in the morning used to be my way of waking up slowly, of transitioning from cozy-in-bed to work-ready. I don’t think there’s any harm in these social media rituals and I have absolutely no judgement if it’s part of your routine, but I will tell you that I’ve loved easing my way out of some of my own, and it’s made me really excited to make even more changes.

If you want to shift your own phone behaviors, here are some ideas based on what’s been working for me!

  • Leave your phone at home. Nothing will happen if it doesn’t come with you everywhere you go. I understand that emergencies can happen and, yes, it’s important to be accessible — but an hour here or there without your phone is going to feel great. The only thing I’ve really missed since doing this more often? The camera! You may have noticed that I’ve been posting fewer photos here on the blog and sharing less on Instagram — but I can buy an actual camera to fix that. The mental shift you’ll feel when you start to physically separate from your phone is actually pretty surprising.
  • Switch up your email app. A few months ago, I finally caught up to the rest of the world and downloaded the Gmail app. In doing so, I hid the standard Apple mail app (you know — the white envelope on the blue background) in another app folder so it would be out of sight and hid notifications for Gmail, which means that I don’t have to see that annoying red bubble constantly tallying up how many messages are waiting in my inbox. This allows me to check my email on the go only when I need or want to, instead of every time I see the red bubble. The red bubble is stressful, and more often than not it signifies the arrival of some random coupon or discount code I don’t even want. Along these same lines, I’ve also started to unsubscribe from as many mailing lists as possible so that I can streamline the time I’m spending across all devices.
  • Put the phone away during “down time.” One of the things that most inspired me to take stock of the role my phone has been playing in my life was an episode of the Beautiful Writers podcast that Matt and I listened to when we were driving back to Pennsylvania for the holidays. The guest was Tom Hanks, and he spent a lot of time generally lamenting how obsessed everyone is with their devices — and while a lot of his thoughts on how to fix it seemed a little idealistic to me, I was struck by what he described as our inability to be bored. If a commercial comes on during our favorite show or if we’re bored during a movie, we check our Instagram to pass the time. I hate commercials as much as the next person and I’m not a big movie watcher, but this really got me thinking about what it was like to be a kid in the world pre-cell phones, when all you could do during that time was, well, sit. Or read (which is one of my favorite things, anyway!). I’ll admit that this has been a really hard one for me to keep, especially because Matt’s not on the same anti-phone crusade as I am right now, but it feels really good when I get it right.

ZB6EkVhPS%OcX8CnoIXHTg_thumb_6c4

  • Put a hard stop on the phone at bedtime. I don’t pick a certain time to put my phone down for the evening because our routine can differ a little from night to night, but when I’m done with my final social media check for the night, I set the phone face-down on the nightstand and pick up my book. This might sound silly, but it’s huge! I used to keep my phone face-up on the nightstand, so if I caught the screen lighting up out of the corner of my eye with a notification, I was more likely to grab it again. I know there are a lot of people out there right now advocating for everyone to charge their phone outside of the bedroom at night (Arianna Huffington even put out a “phone bed” to spread the word on this!), but with a little self-control and a slight tweak to the habit, I’m not sure this is necessary.
  • Don’t look at your phone first thing in the morning. Seriously. Turn off your alarm and just. get. out. of bed. If you can go for even the first 10 or 15 minutes of your day without checking in with the rest of the world, I think it’s really going to help! I find that what you do in the morning really sets the tone for the next few hours, and as my phone has become less of a priority first thing in the morning, I’ve naturally become less attached to it later on, too.

What are your thoughts on phone boundaries? Do you want them? Do you need them? What have you tried to put them in place? I’d love to hear more in the comments below.

7 Comments

things i’m working on.

A story of the first two weeks of 2018, in two sentences:

In the first week, I felt on top of things. Then, in the second week, I didn’t.

Yup, that’s pretty much the whole story. Start to finish.

I threw myself into the new year with an amazing new word — “WELCOME” (you can read more about that here) — and a set of goals that lit the best kind of fire under my you-know-what. And in Week One, that translated into an intense rhythm to my days. I cranked the music, turned on my pretty new salt lamp (thanks to my sister!), barely even felt the temptation to break my no-desserts-during-the-week rule, and knocked things off the to-do list right and left. Hello, 2018. I’ve arrived.

giphy

This week, on the other hand, has felt a little different. feel different. More tired. More focused on the weekend. More “Do I really have to cook dinner again tonight?” More distracted. And definitely more interested in a teeny, tiny taste of chocolate after lunch in the middle of the week (for the record, I haven’t caved yet!). I took Wednesday afternoon off to see a show with my family while they were visiting the city, but other than that, it’s been kind of a bummer of a week.

giphy

(P.S. Go see I, Tonya. It rules.)

Can anyone else relate? Is Week Two bringing you down?

I’m fully aware that the solution to all of this is nothing more than an attitude adjustment (and maybe a few nights of really good sleep), but while I go ahead and adjust that attitude, here are a few things I’m working on…

I’m working on not second guessing every little thing I say.

I’m working on forcing myself to ask stupid questions when I actually need the answer.

I’m working on jumping out of bed without checking social media, and on leaving my phone on the nightstand so I’m not tempted to carry it around with me all. day. long. All the important daytime stuff is on my computer. The phone can wait a few hours.

I’m working on stretching more.

I’m working on loosely scheduling out my days the night before, so I don’t have to waste time in the morning figuring out how I’m going to spend my time.

I’m working on figuring out how I can spend as much time as possible under my heated blanket. (It’s just the truth, OK?)

I’m working on jumping right into the early stages of big, scary-sounding projects instead of waiting until I think there’s going to be enough time to get them on the right track. Work happens in small chunks!

I’m working on Writer’s Block. I know it’s an occupational hazard, but do I really need to have it for a week straight?

I’m working on saving up my sweet tooth cravings during the work week and indulging in something really delicious over the weekend, instead of mindlessly snacking on candy that I don’t want that badly.

I’m working on being better at Twitter.

I’m working on being OK with not being at inbox zero at the end of the workday. I find that I’m better at processing how I want to reply to emails first thing in the morning than I am at 6 PM.

I’m working on learning how to use new tools for projects (I’m looking at you, Asana). Pen and paper will always have their place in my life, but I know I’m wasting resources by insisting on all analog, all the time.

I’m working on listening to more podcasts, and watching less TV.

What are you working on these days? I’d love for you to share in the comments below!

 

 

1 Comment

things i’m working on.

It’s a busy week over here, and when I’m struggling to keep up with my to-do list, I can never decide if it’s a blessing or a curse. On one hand, I feel extremely lucky to have a personal life that’s full of events and a job that keeps my brain working for so many hours of the day, but at the same time, I can’t help but think… how am I supposed to keep up with all of this? You’ve been there, too, right? Grateful to wake up with purpose and structure (well, maybe that love for structure is just me hah!), but also wondering how you can get off the ride, even temporarily? It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless!

It’s the problem facing me this week, and I have to tell you that yesterday, I seriously questioned whether or not I was going to get a blog post up by noon today. By the end of the day, my creative juices were just not flowing, and (sadly) it seemed like this post might have to be the thing that fell to the wayside. But you know I love you, and I hate to leave this little space unattended for more than a few days at a time.

Sooooo, instead of jumping on here and pretending that I have it all figured out (I don’t) and know exactly how to be the blogger-at-the-ready at all times (I definitely don’t), I decided instead to jump on here and share with you a candid list of things in this life that I’m still. just. kind of. working on. We all have things like that, no? Things that aren’t the super serious obstacles holding us back from making progress in our lives, but that just kind of nag at us because we’d really like to get a little bit better at them every day?

It has to be about progress over perfection, though. And as my own worst critic, I need to remind myself of that more often. Because perfection doesn’t happen, but progress can happen. Shouldn’t we set ourselves up for little baby victories along the way?

progress

For me, feeling totally confident here in this space — confident enough to always make it a leading priority on my to-do list — is one of those things I am working on. And here are a few more…

I’m working on nighttime snacking, because I know it’s not the best thing for me, but it’s a hard habit to kill.

I’m working on being more proactive with my friends, because it’s easy to fall into too-familiar patterns.

I’m working on being more direct, because sometimes, I’m a lot better at writing than I am at talking.

I’m working on liking better TV shows, because a girl can only watch so many episodes of The Real Housewives.

I’m working on refining my natural response to the question “how are you?” because I think we’re all too quick to simply respond with “fine!” or “busy!” (I’m so guilty of that.)

I’m working on figuring out a better way to read and watch the news, because it’s hard to stay both informed and sane at the same time.

I’m working on being a little bit friendlier to people on the street, because sometimes I catch myself doing the fast New Yorker walk and I know I have a tendency toward the RBF.

I’m working on finding new recipes, because I can definitely get in a rut in the kitchen. (Suggestions are welcome!)

I’m working on being less of a crazy person about keeping our apartment clean, because I know that life is definitely too short.

I’m working on taking more walks during the day, because fresh air is important and that short walking commute I had as an 8-to-5 girl always made me really happy.

I’m working on being more patient with Matt’s study schedule, because that’s what a reasonable wife would do, and transitions are hard for everyone.

I’m working on staying up a little later to read, because it bums me out when I crash after just a few pages (even though I’m grateful for the sleep). I’m also still working on sleep, in general.

I’m working on eating more greens, because aren’t we all?

What are you working on these days?

2 Comments