SIX THINGS I DO BEFORE 8AM.

Sometimes I hate to admit how much of a morning person I am. Mostly because there’s a small part of me that envies the person who can sleep soundly until 10am, and maybe because a part of me thinks (knows) that my early to rise mentality stems from anxiety. “I can’t sleep in! There’s things to do, thoughts on my mind! Sleeping in wastes the day!” Am I the only one who deals with that feeling?!

All of that aside, I’ve come to love being a morning person; the stillness of it, the slowness. It allows me to feel productive before the business of the day ensues. I’d like to think that it sets me up for success in some ways. So, here are six things that I usually do before 8:00:

1. 5 minutes of tidying | Especially as someone who works from home, our apartment is my all day work space, so it is important to me that there isn’t a pile of dishes in the sink or an unmade bed— it just wouldn’t be a productive space for me! Although we’re pretty good about staying on top of big messes, in the morning there’s inevitably clean dishes waiting to be put away, some laundry overflowing, or tumbleweed of dog hair brushing by… it’s really doable, and effective for me to spend a few minutes first thing in the morning just addressing these ‘chores’ and allowing myself the atmosphere I need to be productive.

2. Put things back in their place | Similarly to the above, things like books, remotes, shoes, mail, all get dropped fluidly in our house. Having a place for everything, and making sure those things always make it there, keep things at least looking tidy.

3. Take a few minutes for myself | Whether this is 15 minutes of reading in the morning or spending an extra 5 in bed after my alarm, ‘treating’ myself is always something I try to do. Waking up the extra minutes early is definitely worth it.

4. Walk the dog | Obviously.. for his sake. But other than that, just getting fresh air first thing in the morning is a game changer. To be honest, I don’t know how motivated I’d be to do this without a dog, especially in New England winters, but maybe there’s a track nearby or a coffee shop in walking distance that allows for some time outside before your day starts. Just doing it forces me out of that ‘I’m comfy in bed’ feeling and wakes me right up!

5. Review ‘admin’ items, like my upcoming schedules and bank accounts | This may seem super over the top to do on a daily basis but… I do. By keeping a daily tab on my planner, bank accounts, bills, meetings etc., there’s never a time when I sit down after weeks of neglect to surprises, a big project or something I missed. It makes me feel like my ‘affairs are in order’ — how adult— and that gives me peace of mind for the rest of the day.

6. Write down one point a gratitude from the day before | You already know that I find that practicing gratitude has helped me in my minimalism journey but in addition, I just love to journal. I’ve found that remembering a high point of the day before, no matter how big or small, not only keeps me practicing gratitude on a daily basis, but it also serves as a diary of sorts. Looking back even just months and seeing what I considered to be the best part of my day always makes me smile.

Thank you to True & Co for allowing me to try out your much-talked about V Neck Bra. I’ve been on the lookout for an intimates brand that isn’t a big box retailer for a very long time, and this female-run, San Fran based company has really hit the mark for me! Take their fit quiz to see what style would work best for you!

FUELING CREATIVITY + LIVING IN THE MOMENT: A SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX.

As someone who spends their work life, and a lot of their personal life, online, particularly on social media, I've felt truly conflicted recently with the role of social media in my life, and whether my constant participation is necessary (/harmful/frivolous/beneficial) for my career and overall well-being. And I'm not the only one... from influencers to companies, people are (finally) starting to discuss the benefits of a social media detox. I've definitely seen a need for one come to fruition in my own life: Often I see on social media, particularly with creatives such as writers, designers, photographers, painters, that they create such beautiful things in so many ways, and not just for work. They pursue passion projects. They design 'just because'. I found myself questioning how they had ‘all of this time’ to do these things. And then I started to notice... while they were creating, and simply posting to social media, I, unlike them, was being sucked into the vortex of the endless scroll. Maybe an assumption here, but probably not. 

Here's where I feel an internal conflict. As a digital marketer, is my up to date knowledge on everything social media something that makes me successful in my career? In some ways, I do think it is. Knowing who's who online and forging connections both professionally and otherwise is a large and super important part of what I do. I even advise my own clients on the importance of timely engagement with their followers and other accounts. So what will a social media detox look like for me? What's the perfect equilibrium between staying on top of a social platform that can be compared to a black hole (...yikes) and taking the time to step away, to enjoy the life that I'm living in real time.

It's hard. And I'm still figuring it out, to be honest. But here's what I'm trying so far:

A nighttime cutoff | I’m trying to step away from social media, and my phone in general, after 9pm. I just have to remember...anything that is posted at 9pm will be most definitely be there waiting for me at 7am. Plus, less screen time before bed is proven to have a huge positive effect sleep, and for someone who truly values sleep, this is a no brainer.

Do something 'active' | I prefer to walk to most places that I need to go in the city, so I am walking a lot of the time. What's nice about this time is that for the most part, I put in my headphones and use that time to zone out with music and my own thoughts. But active is subjective: If it's not walking, I like to cook to keep me busy. Whatever it is, do something that takes you off the seat that you're in and gets you moving. It helps.

Short bursts of unplugged time for creativity | Set your alarm for 20-30 minutes and put it on silent, face down. Use this time to be creative. Usually once I get inspired and over those first few minutes of 'withdrawal', I actually get so involved that I don't want my timer to end! Recently I've been trying stream of consciousness writing. I've wanted to get back into writing for fun, and plus, it's said that stream of consciousness writing (essentially journalling) is really great for mental wellness and stress relief.

Disassociate posting for yourself vs. posting to post | The pressure can be real on this one. If you're not posting, are you losing followers? Will people forget about you? Will the algorithm work against you? When at first we might say yes, the reality is that engaged followers only care about your content and how great it is... which normally is a natural result of passionate work. When taking and posting photos becomes laborous, or you post something just to get content out there, it usually isn't your best. I’ve been working to except ebbs and flows in my creative process, as opposed to fight it, and work with my inspiration only when it comes naturally.

Just look up | Whenever you consciously find yourself scrolling on your phone, then also make the conscious decision to just look up, look around and put the phone down. Take a few deep breaths, pet your dog, stretch. It truly becomes the first step in breaking the habit.

Have you tried a social media detox?? I’d love to know! 

A NOTE ON FREELANCING.

So, I took the leap into freelancing last month. (And it's much different than freelancing here and there as a side hustle!)

It's freeing (of course) and terrifying and exciting and stressful, all at once. So why am I doing it and how did I get here?

Let me preface by saying that I am the biggest believer in two, somewhat cliche, sayings. First: 'every thing happens for a reason'. I've seen it be proven true many, many times in my life. So I've always remained confident that when something does or doesn't work out, I'm being kept on track regardless. My career path in accounting was never a detrimental one by any means, but I was never particularly happy or passionate about my jobs, only about the paychecks that allowed me to eat, travel and enjoy life outside of my cube. (No bad talking, I've always loved the companies and people that I've worked for and with!) And I'm sure a lot of people out there feel similarly... 

Second: 'if you don't like something, change it'. So I started to do any and everything to get experience and learn more in a field that truly interested me. The gritty truth behind the facade of social media is the I don't remember the last time that I wasn't working around my full-time job! I went back to school for fashion marketing, I was a visual merchandising associate (some of you know that those shifts often start at 4 or 5AM!), I starting blogging, I networked as an 'influencer' to collaborate with brands (air quotes due to the fact that I don't really consider myself one), I took on clients part-time and honestly, I don't know what I would do with all of my spare time if I wasn't doing those things at one point or another... (Maybe workout a little more, haha, but that's besides the point...) Making a career change in any capacity requires hard work, outside of the daily grind! 

Anyway, an opportunity presented itself recently to jump into this work full-time and I simply took advantage. Take it from me, and self-employed success stories like Jess Kirby, I don't exactly recommend this. Security and having a strong plan b, c and d are usually very important to me, but sometimes that methodology does not foster your growth and full potential. As mentioned in Jess' post, "leap and the net will appear", and I've had to believe in that whole-heartedly. 

At the same time that things were lining up in my professional life, I felt as though I was truly discovering my values and how I wanted to live my life as an adult... my late twenty's came in HOT. Eesh. I've embraced minimalist mantras and zero-waste initiatives, which has lead me to the conclusion that I was not happy participating in the rat race that is 'socially accepted success'. Work, work, work to make money to buy things that put you in debt, take up space or just go to waste. If this sounds just way too out there for ya, check out this documentary. It may not change your life, but it will definitely give you perspective!

To very briefly explain the logistics of my transition, I just started to pick up part-time clients as a way to ease from salaried employee to freelancer. I will say that it is impossible to take on a full client list and put enough time into prospecting with a full-time job, so if you're considering working freelance, you have to embrace the unknown that comes with leaving your current position to focus on self-employment, hopefully with a little financial security in tow. It's been about two months since I've been working freelance full-time. Is it stressful? Yes. Am I often doubting myself? Of course. Am I unsure if I will always have a steady stream of clients to pay the bills? What will happen if I don't? I think about these things all the time. But do you know what else? I get to go outside and enjoy the fresh air any time of day that works for me. I create my schedule based on what I want, and have to, get done, which allows me to work where and whenever. I have the flexibility to travel more than I ever have. I am not forced to commute to a desk for a certain time to display that I am hardworking. (And maybe best of all,) I get to be my dog's midday dog walker.  

In short-- I may be working harder than I ever have been, but I've also been able to enjoy everyday life more than ever too. And to me, that's what it's all about.