We moved to Florida two months ago for the sunshine, a big backyard and my job as executive editor of The Penny Hoarder.

I’d just returned to work after maternity leave, and it felt good to be based at our headquarters in St. Petersburg. Our 3-month-old was adjusting to being away from me all day. Our toddler was about to start preschool.

And then, Irma.

At first, it was just a possibility. The hurricane might hit Florida. I was busy at work — we’re a fast-growing media startup — but I made time to look at flights out of Tampa. It was only Tuesday, but already, not many flights were available. They were expensive, and it felt like a big disruption to travel with the kids for a storm whose path was uncertain.

But the next day at our staff meeting, I could tell some of my colleagues were getting antsy. Our CEO, Kyle Taylor, tried to calm our nerves, encouraging employees to prioritize family and safety, reassuring everyone we wouldn’t be docked vacation days if we took time away to prepare. For anyone who wanted to evacuate, he said, the company would use its American Express points — hey, we’re penny hoarders! — to book and pay for hotels anywhere in the country. Our company mission is to make finance less stressful for our readers, and this was one way we could do that for our employees, too.

I left that meeting wondering if my family should leave. But where would we flee? It was too early to predict where, exactly, Irma would hit. Nowhere in Florida seemed a safe bet. Already we were hearing reports of bumper-to-bumper traffic and gas stations out of fuel. We worried about getting stuck on the side of the road with two little ones.

Read the rest…

Share this article:

Time-management blogger and author Laura Vanderkam wrote recently in her newsletter that she’d read 72 books so far this year.

I hit reply and asked how on earth she’d accomplished that while working and raising four kids. My book reading has dropped off dramatically since having kids, mostly because I’m so tired at the end of each day that I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

She wrote back saying she wasn’t surprised to hear that, since her research shows mothers with children under 2 years old have less leisure time than those with older children. (Laura knows I have a toddler and a newborn — not one, but two under 2.)

She also offered some tangible suggestions — and one in particular is already helping me read more books. Laura suggested I read on my phone.

I pretty much hated this idea right out of the gate, because I already spend too much time on my phone. I’m trying to spend less time on my phone, not more. And reading on a tiny screen doesn’t appeal to me. Plus, I love physical books. I tried a Kindle a few years ago, but found I missed the feeling of holding the book in my hands, missed turning pages.

That’s why when I purchased several books a few months ago with the hope of reading them during my maternity leave — Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B, Jennifer Latson’s The Boy Who Loved Too Much, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah — I bought physical copies.

Except… here’s what happened

But four weeks into life with my new baby, I’d barely picked them up. One of the times when I’d hoped to read was while breastfeeding at night, but it wasn’t happening, mainly for logistical reasons: I didn’t have enough hands to feed the baby and hold a physical book, and I couldn’t see the book in the middle of the night without turning on a bright light. Even when it occurred to me to read while feeding the baby in daylight, I often couldn’t reach my book from wherever I’d settled. That might sound like a lame excuse, but once I’ve managed to get my newborn onto my boob in a position that’s comfortable for both of us, and my breastfeeding pillow, burp cloth and Zerlar are in place, I wouldn’t move even if you waved a donut in front of my face.

My phone, however, is almost always within reach, since I’m constantly using it for other things — texting family, adjusting the music playing in our living room, and taking pictures of our two little boys. My phone is also easy to hold with one hand or balance on a pillow, and it’s back-lit and visible in the dark. So I’d resorted to browsing social media, catching up on emails or ordering items on Amazon while feeding the baby, instead of reading something meaningful.

Until I put the Kindle app on my phone. Laura, that was a brilliant idea. Counter-intuitive, yes, but it’s made all the difference. Within a few days, I made significant progress on one of my books, and now reading that book is my default activity while feeding the baby.

Now, you’re probably not up half the night breastfeeding a newborn, but I suspect this approach would work for you, too. How much time do you waste browsing Facebook or Twitter while standing in line, eating your lunch, or waiting for a friend or colleague? What if you could access a real book with a simple swipe, on a device you’re already carrying with you?

How many more books do you think you’d read each year if you got through a few pages every time you usually look at social media? And how much better would you feel about learning something new or enjoying a novel than browsing through Facebook photos of your ex-boyfriend’s wife’s sister’s dog?

Share this article:

My Company Was Acquired and I Had a Baby 2 Months Later: When Career and Mommyhood Collide

May 19, 2017 9 comments

What it’s like to raise a baby and a startup at the same time.

Read the rest…

This Guy Earned $15K By Launching His First Online Course. Here’s How He Did It

May 8, 2017 0 comments

Thinking about launching an online course? Here’s how one online entrepreneur did it successfully.

Read the rest…

Hiring at a Startup: How We Managed to Go From 3 Employees to 55 in Just 18 Months

February 20, 2017 4 comments

Smart hiring is one of the biggest challenges startup founder face. Here’s how we’ve grown our team at The Penny Hoarder strategically in a short period of time.

Read the rest…

What Being a Working Mom is Really Like

December 9, 2016 7 comments

Becoming a (working) mom has been the most joyful transition of my life — and the most challenging.

Read the rest…

3 Tools Digital Media Companies Use to Create Compelling Content and Maximize Web Traffic

June 10, 2016 7 comments

At the digital media company where I work, we’ve dubbed this “the year of science.” We’ve long relied on intuition and experience to create content that will engage readers and drive clicks to The Penny Hoarder. And while that has worked well, growing the site to 20 million readers a month, this year we’re putting […]

Read the rest…

Our Twitter Love Story Continues… (Plus a Ridiculously Adorable Photo)

November 1, 2015 17 comments

Since our son was born eight weeks ago, I’ve tried to write a coherent blog post at least half a dozen times. But as any parent will tell you, mothering a newborn is exhausting. Between around-the-clock breastfeeding, evening fussiness and a lot less sleep than I need, I’m lacking the physical and mental capacity to […]

Read the rest…

Why You Should Use Flow for Task Management (Over Basecamp or Asana)

September 1, 2015 10 comments

I’ve long used Flow for task management. My Socialexis team used it, my editorial team now uses it at Taylor Media, and my husband and I even use it to keep track of household tasks. In short, I’m a huge Flow fan. So I’m always surprised when this app doesn’t make it into conversations about the […]

Read the rest…

Doing the Work vs. Writing About It

August 17, 2015 11 comments

This blog has been quiet for nearly a month. It’s perhaps the longest I’ve ever gone without posting. On several occasions, I started writing a blog post to explain why. I wrote about how I’m juggling a company transition and preparing to have a baby. I wrote about how I’m failing at a lot of little […]

Read the rest…