things i’m working on

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.


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.


  • 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.


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.


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.


(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!



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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?


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?