I hope y’all don’t mind if we get real (real fast) this morning, because I’ve had a few things weighing on my mind and need some advice before we head into this long weekend. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I need to make a few changes in my life. Don’t get me wrong: I love my family and my friends, my job, living in Austin… in fact, I think it’s because that I love all of these things so much that there never seems to be enough hours in a day to prioritize them all the way that I want to.
I know, I know – everyone’s busy and struggling to balance the varying demands of life is nothing new. It’s just that lately, I’ve been feeling like the growth of social media and our addiction to our phones has made it 10x worse, especially working in the digital media space where work can often be 24/7. There are always blog posts to write, comments to answer, Instagram videos to post… plus the styling, shooting, editing, newsletters, branded campaigns, Facebook chats, and so much more that’s a necessary part of the day-to-day. As our site grows and new opportunities come my way – all things that I’m so thankful for! – my daily to-do list seems to get longer as I seemingly get worse at prioritizing the other parts of my life.
To give y’all some context for where this all came from, let’s backup to something that happened last weekend that, in hindsight, feels like a wake-up call. Phoebe and I were making the drive home from an editor event I’d hosted in Houston, and (as road trips so often do) the 3 hours in the car gave me some rare time to be still and sit with my thoughts for the first time in weeks. I was coming off an extremely busy month with loads of travel and an intense work schedule, and heading straight into another one feeling tired and, as usual, strapped for time. I unexpectedly had the thought that if my car were to crash and today ended up being my last day on the planet, I wouldn’t feel like I missed out on a single accomplishment, travel experience, or career milestone. My biggest regret would be that I didn’t take enough time to just stop and enjoy all the amazing things in my life: that I was too busy to watch my kids play in the sprinkler, stop and chat with my next-door neighbor, bake my mom a birthday cake, or pet my friend’s dog without hurrying out the door. All things that I love to do, but require a little more margin in life than I’d allowed myself lately. But in that moment, I realized that life is never going to get less busy on its own. It’s up to me to make choices that will change this trajectory of constant busyness that I’m currently on.
The very next day, my iPhone got run over by a car. Long story, but suffice it to say that it was a goner, and I ended up spending all of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with no phone, no texts, and zero social media. Think maybe God was trying to tell me something? During my involuntary social media detox, I felt more relaxed than I had in ages, and I noticed that I didn’t fill every second of downtime with checking off items on my to-do list because, well, I couldn’t. Instead, I watched Phoebe’s mermaid swim in the pool, made eye contact with lots of strangers in Starbucks, and zoned out to music while I was driving (no podcasts!) And I loved it. I ended the weekend feeling calm, happy, and balanced, and with a renewed desire to find ways to regularly build these times of unplugged rest into my schedule.
Now that I have my phone back, I’m determined to recreate this experience on purpose, regularly. Easier said than done, right? This week, I’ve made an effort to put my phone in the other room while I’m with the kids, and I even left it at home a few times when we were running errands. But I still found myself emailing from bed on more than one evening, falling down the rabbit hole of watching Instagram stories that I cared nothing about, and only half-listening to Phoebe while I fired off answers to text messages.
As we head into this long Fourth of July weekend, I’m feeling it’s a perfect time to put some of this stuff into practice, and I’d love to hear from you guys if you’ve taken a digital detox, set boundaries for yourself with your media consumption, or just put any habits into practice that helped you find a balance. Give me all your good advice, and I’ll report back soon on what’s working for me.