Fringe Hours

77a739df6567692f00457bfa75adea4fI recently read The Fringe Hours by Jennifer Turner and there were so many good takeaways from the book that I've already applied many of them to my everyday life. I admit that I didn't always relate to the author's tone, and some of the content didn't resonate with me (the book seemed mostly geared towards women with young families), but there were some irreplaceable insights in the book that caused me to sit and ponder how I can best use my time. The concept of the book is focused on identifying our fringe hours, the little bits of time that are found in between meetings, while checking out at the grocery store, or while waiting for appointments that collectively add up to create large chunks of time that we can use to pursue our passions, restore our souls, or even knock items off of our to-do lists. In a review about the book, author Laura Vanderkam sums up the concept best:

"Have you ever claimed to be busy but lost an hour to Pinterest? In this gentle yet no-nonsense book, Jessica nudges us to question how we spend our time and to find ways to bring joy into the little and large space of our lives."

This quote highlights exactly what I loved about the book. The premise initially seems so straightforward, causing me to wonder why I even need to read it - the subject matter appears to be obvious: spend time doing things that are productive and beneficial and you will be a happier, more well-rounded and complete person. But once I started analyzing how you use my fringe hours, I realized that so much of my time that could be life-giving ends up wasted. The book turned m attention to ways that I can be more intentional with the pockets of time that I've been gifted with, using them to pursue my dreams or brighten up my days.

While reading The Fringe Hours, I realized that I spend a lot of time waiting, whether in airports or office buildings or restaurants or parking lots. To pass the time, I inevitably end up scrolling through social media feeds, which can be enjoyable sometimes, but usually just numbs my brain. Encouraged by Turner's insights and advice, I decided to ensure that I have a book with me at all times (especially now that I'm loaded down with great titles thanks to my library card). I've found that in just the two weeks since I've started tucking books into my bag and stowing them in my car, I've actually come to enjoy waiting for airplanes or meetings or appointments; the waiting gives me the chance to dive back into the delicious story I'm reading. The same idea goes with keeping workout clothes and running shoes stashed in my office or my car, making it possible to go for a lunchtime run or pop into an unexpected exercise class after work. Jennifer Turner keeps notecards in her car so she can write letters to people she loves. Those who love drawing can keep sketchpads in their desks; those who love magazines can keep them in their bags and pull them out at a moment's notice. People who like to take pictures can keep a small camera handy, and people who like to cook can download apps that allow them to categorize recipes on the go. It can take a bit of effort as you plan to have the necessary supplies ready in advance, but the payoff is so, so life-giving. By not wasting precious time and instead using my fringe hours to indulge in my passions and hobbies, I have felt energized and renewed.

One other takeaway I gleaned from the book was related to the way I use my time in the car. I have found myself getting extremely irritable during my daily commute, which can range from 30 - 60 minutes. I tried listening to talk radio but usually ended up on top 40 stations, and I felt frazzled every time I got out of the car, irritated by the fact that I hadn't used my time to sharpen my mind while driving (I totally wish I could take a train to work so I could read during my commute). Inspired by this post, I subscribed to several podcasts , and mirroring the example above, I find that I no longer dread heading to my car; I actually look forward to it! My favorites are Bon Appétit FoodcastHappier with Gretchen Rubin, and This American Life. Today I even sat in my car for a few extra minutes so I could finish up Bon Appétit's latest show, which featured fabulous interviews with Ina Garten and Gordon Ramsay. The best part about this new practice is that I feel like I'm feeding my mind and my soul during my commute instead of frittering away the precious minutes I'm gifted with each day.

There are so many more ways that I'm looking forward to applying the principles of The Fringe Hours into my daily life in terms of pursuing my dreams and hobbies and interests and relationships, and I can't wait to provide more feedback here. Have you heard of fringe hours? How could you better construct your day to maximize the gift that is the little pockets of time that can be utilized for your benefit?

P.S. I'm trying out a new blog template - let me know what you think of it!

Image (& decor inspo!) via Ghost Parties

Library Card

Library CardI have always been a voracious reader. My parents still tell stories about how they used to have to pull books out of my hands so I could focus on getting ready for school or eating my breakfast without spilling on myself. I have always been a book person. I totally appreciate tablets and e-readers, especially when travel is concerned, but I love the feel of holding a book in my hands. That being said, I devour books like slices of pizza, rapidly gobbling up the stories contained within them. As much as I adore them, books cost a few bucks, so I had found myself reading less because I wasn't willing to sacrifice space in my budget to pick up new titles. In Gretchen Rubin's book, The Happiness Project, she talks about identifying the problem as the main way of overcoming an obstacle. When I started feeling frustrated that I had been reading less and began contemplating why that was, I realized that I wasn't in a place to spend a ton of money on books. I can usually read three books a week, so that would come to about 12 books per month, totaling somewhere close to $2,400 per year! So the problem, then, was money. How should I overcome this problem? I don't know why I didn't realize it sooner, but the answer was so simple: get a library card and check out books for free.

I had dragged my feet on this, for some reason fearing that the process of getting a library card would be tedious and lengthy. But on a gray Sunday at the end of April, I finally took the plunge and I cannot tell you how my heart palpitated once I realized that all of the books in the public library were at my disposal (besides, the whole card process took a whole two minutes). I was like a kid in a candy store, looking up titles (and, frankly, re-training myself on the methods of the Dewey Decimal System), checking out books, and adding myself to wait-lists for popular works. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading, and have since knocked out six delicious titles:

  1. Delancey by Molly Wizenberg - my favorite of the bunch!
  2. The Fringe Hours: Secrets to Making Time for You by Jennifer Turner - really applicable tips found here, though the tone/writing style wasn't always quite my taste; an easy & quick read nonetheless.
  3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - so captivating, albeit a bit dark, with a touching budding romance at the center of the story.
  4. The Circle by Dave Eggers - a powerful commentary on social media + an amazing narrative.
  5. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty - this book was even more engaging than I could have imagined, as I'd heard/read about it for months. I couldn't put it down!
  6. Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott - another winner by an author I love. There were some amazing gems in here, though I could have used a little more meat in some sections.

Now I'm starting The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, which is actually a book that Mom lent me. And here are the books from the library that I just picked up yesterday:

  1. All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
  2. The Chaperone by Liane Moriarty
  3. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
  4. I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist by Betty Halbreich
  5. One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
  6. Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte
  7. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfield

As you can see, I'm going nuts over my new library card - I feel like I've been given a new sense of freedom, and I'm loving getting back into a reading routine (especially before going to bed - it's so relaxing!). It's the best move I've made in recent history.

Have you been reading anything good lately? If so, I'd love to have your recommendations!

Photo of a darling little mobile library in Dallas via my dear friend, Elizabeth Corley