things i’m working on

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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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(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?

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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?

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