Last September, Faith Today ran a cover story called “Too Busy to be Faithful?” That story generated discussion about life, balance and technology. Then, a book announcement about The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You crossed our desk and caught our eye. We asked the author to write a blog and, yes, give away a book. Tell us your best way to carve out intentional time to restore your soul and maybe you’ll win a copy! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jessica N. Turner
Do you ever get to the end of your day and realize you did nothing for yourself? It can be challenging for people, especially women, to make time for themselves, which is why I wrote the book The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You.
“Fringe hours” are those pockets of time that often go underused or wasted all together in your day. For the book’s research, I surveyed more than 2,000 women about time practices, struggles and passions. Feelings of guilt, comparison and the pursuit of balance were all reasons women cited for why they didn’t make time to practice self-care.
With a bit of intentionality, women can overcome these feelings and make themselves a priority. Once they do this, the next step is to find the time. An easy way to determine where fringe hours exist is to track one’s time for an entire week.
Once you’ve tracked your time, you will find that the following pockets tend to be the best opportunities for making time for you.
1. Mornings: My friend Stacy once said, “I believe how you spend your 5-to-9 determines how you’ll spend your 9-to-5.” I wholeheartedly agree with this. If your mornings are frantic, you are starting your day in an unhealthy place. But when you start your day with time for you, with time in prayer, and in a state of peace, you are better equipped to handle whatever comes your way during the day.
Research at the University of Toronto also recently showed that morning people were happier than night owls and felt healthier, further making the case for rising early.
If you find that mornings are challenging for you, consider starting small by making your wake-up time just 15 minutes earlier. By slowly embracing an earlier start to your day, you will find the practice easier to implement.
2. Times of Waiting: On average, people wait 45-60 minutes a day. Be prepared for times of waiting by having something with you to do during those periods, such as a book, a needlework project or a journal. Suddenly those times of waiting become optimal times to do something for you.
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to do something in every five-minute little pocket to practice self-care. Consider just stepping outside or taking some deep breaths when you have those few moments. This seemingly simple act can revolutionize the way you see yourself, your perspective on the world around you, and your ability to recognize the blessings of life.
3. Lunch Breaks: Lunch is another common window that can be used to practice self-care. This is particularly true for women who work outside the home and have a set lunch hour. But it can also be true for women who are at home during the day with a more fluid schedule.
In a Forbes article, workplace expert Michael Kerr said, “It’s critical to make the most of lunch and remind yourself that by taking a proper break you will accomplish more in the long run, and that productivity and creativity will increase, while your levels of stress and fatigue will diminish.”
If you have a lunch break, consider leave your workplace during this time. I find that when I do, I come back rejuvenated and ready to accomplish my work goals for the afternoon. It is incredible what you can accomplish in an hour. Lunch is a natural break in our day and provides the opportunity to refuel, both physically and mentally.
4. Evenings: Evenings are a huge opportunity for doing the things that we love. More than 80 percent of survey respondents reported going to bed at 10:00 p.m. or later. Additionally, 88 percent of parents reported going to bed after their children. It is evenings where fringe minutes turn into fringe hours.
Because evenings typically offer the longest chunk of time for women to invest in themselves during the Monday-to-Friday standard workweek, it is important to not waste these hours.
Occasionally, evening activities will impact a person’s normal routine. In my survey, nearly 65 percent of respondents reported being out of the home one to two nights a week, 30 percent reported being out three to four nights a week, and the remainder reported being out five nights a week or more. For those who are out three nights a week or more, I would challenge you to consider if all those activities are really necessary. When we overcommit our nights, it can have a negative impact on our days.
Nights are a gift to use to refuel and invest in yourself. Don’t be tempted to overdo it or waste time on activities that are unnecessary or can be done more efficiently at another time. Reclaim some of that time for yourself.
Don’t let busyness rule your life. When you take time for you and your passions, you will be healthier, happier and better able to pour into those around you.
Jessica N. Turner is the author of The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You. She blogs at www.themomcreative.com. Did you miss the Sept/Oct issue of Faith Today where we dealt with busyness? Email us at email@example.com to request a copy of that issue. And subscribe now for the best price ever of Faith Today.