I 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 Foodcast, Happier 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