Zibby Owens is the founder of Zibby Owens Media, which, among other things, includes a new publishing house for fiction and memoir. She’s also the host of the award-winning podcast, Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, and a regular columnist for Good Morning America. And if all that’s not enough, she’s also an editor and author—her new memoir, Bookends: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Literature (Amazon, Bookshop), just hit the shelves this week. I’ve known Zibby for many years. We first got to know each other through our deep love of reading and libraries. I couldn’t wait to talk to Zibby about happiness, habits, and, of course, books.
Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?
Zibby: A habit that makes me more productive is active email management. Once a day, I stop replying to incoming messages and attack the backlog. (Okay, fine, maybe once a week.) When I do that, I dedicate at least two hours to it and sort the emails alphabetically rather than by date received. That way, I can go through one person’s emails at a time, delete unnecessary emails, and then really dig into the rest. I note the starting amount when I get discouraged about how many I have left, I start working my way up from the Z’s. Then I’ll flip back to working down from the A’s. If I don’t do this after two weeks max or when I get to 500 emails, I basically freak out.
What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?
That I could be profoundly happy at my current weight. I think that would have horrified me then.
Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit – or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?
I’ve started eating a protein and veggie shake for breakfast every morning instead of my kids’ leftover pancakes. It sets the day on a better path. (I love the chocolate flavor from Ka’Chava, a sponsor of my podcast that I have grown obsessed with.) I did it a few times in a row and realized it really did make me feel better. Now I miss it on the days I’m traveling or have run out.
Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?
Obliger. 100%. After doing a recent event with Gretchen, I realized that each one of my four kids is a different temperament. It’s actually changed the way I parent in such a positive way!
Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness?
My compulsion to manage my emails and not get behind on work. (See #1 above.) It throws a huge wrench in my determination to move more.
Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful?
Don’t miss the plot. An old therapist told me that and it helps me every day.
Has a book ever changed your life – if so, which one and why?
Books change my life every day. I do 365 podcasts a year, each one with a different author. I’ve learned such an enormous amount it’s crazy. I’m like in the school of life.
In your field, is there a common misconception that you’d like to correct?
I’m in a lot of fields: podcasting, publishing, book-fluencing (is that a thing?!), parenting, being an author. A misconception is that you have to pick just one field!