Finding your fringe hours

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Busyness. It’s become the modern-day status symbol. We humblebrag about how long our to-do lists are and how little time we have. Glued to our smartphones, we spend endless hours keeping track of our appointments, our children’s or pet’s play dates, our social media and news posts.

We almost never disconnect. Working women, especially, with or without kids, barely get a chance to exhale before rushing on to the next meeting, soccer game, piano lesson, dry-cleaning pick-up. Well, you get the idea.

Blogger, author and marketing professional Jessica N. Turner has written a book, The Fringe Hours, to help women find those pockets of time when we can refresh, regroup and do the things we enjoy, rather than those things we must do.
A fringe is something that edges something else. A pillow or a jacket may have a fringe, making it even more beautiful; in the same way, the time you give to things you enjoy, such as meeting friends, pursuing a hobby or just taking time to have a cup of tea and just “be,” make your surrounding life that much more appealing.

Author Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of De-Cluttering and Organizing, has also hit a chord. She recommends divesting ourselves of those things that don’t give us tangible joy. Presumably that will mean less time with laundry, dusting and other housekeeping, and more time for things that are meaningful to our lives.

Some of you may protest that between your husband, kids, boss, gym and community activities, you have no fringe time. But Turner urges us to look again and prioritize and even drop some of our activities to free up those valuable pockets of time, be it five minutes or a couple of hours. Some nuggets of advice are:

Learn to say no: “Remember, saying no is not a bad thing because it means you are saying yes to something else.”

Learn from your mistakes: “Sometimes you are going to overbook yourself and life will be too full. Learn from those seasons; ask yourself what you could have done differently. Could you have…scheduled an activity for another month?”

Evaluate what matters: “Continuously review your schedule and make sure everything is necessary. A quote on my desk says, ‘If what you do doesn’t matter to you, it’s really not going to matter to anyone else.’”

Reduce distractions: “Sometimes balance can be achieved by turning off your phone, computer or other technological devices. Or you might need to find a quiet place in your home or out in nature to be less distracted.”

With the popularity of Pinterest and Instagram, it’s tempting to think we’re not doing enough. Turner says don’t let the supposed perfection of others’ lives dictate yours. She tells a story of wanting to create bottles of homemade body scrub for Teacher Appreciation Day. Inevitably, time grew short and her son ended up making handmade cards that were received with joy.

I’m in a long process of divesting myself of clothes, an old TV gifted to me by my aunt and furniture I’ve had since I was in my 20s and replacing those things with items that work better for the life I have now. I’m also focusing on time management. Since I live in a rural area, I discovered how to “bunch” errands; when in town, I make sure to do the grocery shopping, drop off dry-cleaning and pick up meds in one trip.

If you have evaluated your time and still can’t seem to find pockets, it could be helpful to hire help for some of the things you spend time on during the week, Turner advises. For me, that means that anything other than simple chores around the house are done by a handyman or other professional.

Many people discover that setting the alarm clock an hour earlier and having some “me” time sets the tone for the day. Granted, you have to be a morning person to do this. If not, carve out that time after everyone is in bed.

Turner recommends preparing for those inevitable times of waiting such as at the doctor’s office or child’s school. As I do, she makes sure to carry reading material in her car, to take out when in a long lines at the post office or a doctor’s waiting room. Also, if something’s not working for you, let it go. Turner admits to leaving dishes in the sink so she can spend quality time with her kids before bedtime.

We weren’t designed for constant activity and stress; science agrees. People who don’t get enough sleep, for example, tend to gain more weight and don’t function at their peak during the day.

After all, if God created everything in six days and on the seventh He rested, can’t we find time to rest as well? HLM

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