Summary: How to Not Always Be Working By Marlee Grace
Summary: How to Not Always Be Working By Marlee Grace

Summary: How to Not Always Be Working By Marlee Grace

How to Not Work When Not Working


No apps. Delete all apps. Even if it’s just for the day. Or for a week.

Do not have a Facebook app on the phone. You truly do not need this. You might want it, but let Facebook be the one social media thing you just do on a damn computer. Let’s collectively allow ourselves the time and space to wait and do the thing later.

A note on apps and travel: Sometimes it is better to work smarter, not harder, when you are traveling. If this is the case, by all means have the Facebook app on your phone. But if you are experiencing a typical workweek with access to your browser, I would say delete the app.



Geoffrey Holstad, a designer at Patagonia, facilitator of Cabin-Time creative residency, and deep inspirational friend, suggested to me to have only the weather app and Google Maps available—so if you want a true social media detox, this is an option.



Put the phone in the phone box. Now go do something: work, write, walk, all of the above. Whatever makes you feel alive. Use it as a break from talking to people. You don’t have to have a real or deep or meaningful reason for using the phone box. When it’s time, it’s time. Or when it doesn’t feel like it’s time, this could also be a really great time.

Stick to your time. Don’t take the phone out of the box until it is time to take the phone out of the box.



Moment is a free app that tracks your screen time, how many times you pick up your phone in a day, and how much time you spend using each app. It’s terrifying. And it’s totally beautiful. It can be really surprising to see how many hours a bunch of five-minute scrolls and two-minute texting bouts add up to. You get to set your goal for how much screen time you’d like to use in a day, and it makes you a nice chart so that you can see if you’ve gone over or not. Green for great job, yellow for close, and red for going over. Do you go on red every single day? That’s okay, but maybe make your screen time allowance bigger and work down from there. Let yourself see some green.



This is another app where you can have a free trial (again, lots of free options—but this could be good for some). You can block apps from your phone for anywhere from an hour to twenty-four hours! Super helpful. It also blocks you from going into your phone web browser. Because we have all had that moment when we’ve deleted an app and then just gone to its website . . .



Setting phone hours can empower you to actually love and honor your phone time. I let myself scroll the feed every day at one P.M. for twenty minutes.

That way you don’t have to feel a weird and crazy guilt—you can just accept that it’s scrolling time.

Also, you can set a “No Phone Before Ten A.M.” rule or a phone curfew in the afternoons/evenings.

Play with it! There is no right way for everyone.


Taking a Break

Exploring the idea of a healthy break has become so important. It could look different for each individual person. Maybe a healthy break for you is going for a walk, while maybe someone else is writing a book about walking, so they need another outlet. A break could be making a meal, which to some people is a chore called “feeding yourself.” But I know in my busy world of always wanting to do, do, do, sometimes the simple act of making a salad is the greatest gift of not working.

The tricky part about creating space to pause and practice is that at first it will need to be deliberate. It might even feel forced. Soon you’ll start to taste the sweetness of it all, which comes from knowing that every time you choose to pause, you are choosing yourself.


SING. WRITE. PRAY. by Brandi Harper, knitter

I rise and drink water before scrolling through my phone.

Then comes a cleanse with apple cider vinegar, lemon water, or kombucha.

The morning begins with a smoothie for now and the making of a green juice for later.

I choose three asanas and do them at home.

I cook a meal three times a week.

I practice hot yoga three times a week.

I go on a date with myself once a month.

Sing. Write. Pray. These can never happen often enough.

And I’m honoring daily the neurosis of always doing things in threes.


It’s Lighter Than You Think

Engaging in Song and Dance

Like literally stop whatever you are doing and put on your favorite song. Sing in the car, in the shower. You do not have to be good at singing to sing (or at least I hope not, because I am very bad and love singing along).

And dancing! I might have a college degree in dance, but dancing is of my being in every way and has been since I was born. And I really believe it is in all of us. Just dance around your house. Maybe even do it naked, or put your favorite outfit on. It tricks you into feeling better before you even realize it.

Reaching Out, Asking for Help

Ask your friends for help and let them be there for you. And then when it is time to switch, be there for them. One beautiful way to keep things light and get out of my own head is to call or text a friend and just ask how they are, offer them a five-minute phone call to vent or celebrate or share. Nine out of ten times they are like, “Whoa, yes, I miss you and needed you in this moment!” Listening to them and being there for them usually gets me out of my own shit pretty fast.