"I’m here to tell you that you not only can but must make time to do things that matter to you, no matter how busy life gets."
There are a ton of books on time management, but Jessica N. Turner address a very specific aspect in The Fringe Hours – women’s time. Turner is a mom of three who works full time, runs a successful blog and finds time for meaningful hobbies. After years of being asked how she does it, she shares her wisdom in The Fringe Hours. Over the course of the book, Turner outlines how to shift your mindset about balance, letting go of self-imposed pressures, how to find time, how to maximize your time, and how to live well.
As a part of writing this book, Turner surveyed more than 2,000 women to understand how they use their time and what aspects of their lives influence their time. In the survey 36% of women said they spend one to three hours per week on themselves and things they are passionate about, and only 19% were happy with the amount of time they have for themselves. Turner offers up The Fringe Hours as a practical guide to increasing the amount of time they have for themselves.
We have to make time for ourselves
"However you define it – fit or balance – you need to be your own advocate to ensure you have the balance that you need."
Women face a lot of self-imposed and social pressures when it comes to how they choose to spend their time. Turner suggests that we need to recognize and address these head on. “Living with intention and commitment to our well-being is a necessity,” Turner writes, yet many women are juggling so many commitments that they are unable to attend to their basic well-being. Although this requires women to go against societal norms, which is not for the faint of heart.
Turner suggests a couple of things in order to shift our perspective in order to be open to the possibility of making time for ourselves.
- Begin by letting go of self-imposed pressures. Many people believe that they need to be everything to everyone, but that’s simply not the case. Rather than making everyone else the priority, we can let go of this pressure and begin to prioritize ourselves. Start by listing the things that you feel obligated to do that you could potentially let go.
- Eliminate guilt and comparison. Guilt and comparison are the enemies of happiness and self-acceptance. Often times we let both of these control what we do, which results in us not practicing self-care. Instead, we need to add self-care back into the equation.
- Discover how to care for yourself. Have you ever thought about what are your minimum requirements for self-care? Before you can start to care for yourself, you have to know what you need. This might require looking back to things you loved to do as a child, passion projects and other inspiration.
- Find your time. Once you’ve identified what you want to do, it’s a matter of finding time. You can try tracking your time for a week or two to see where it’s going. You also look for small pockets of time that might be going unused. Like time waiting for your kids at sports practice, time when you’re commuting, or before or after bed.
Find Your Passions
"Without creative expression, a part of you will atrophy, which means to waste away."
As Turner makes the case for women making more time for themselves, she is suggesting that we make more time for things that inspire and invigorate us. Like spending time on things we’re passionate about. As a busy adult, this can be difficult to reconnect. If you have been apart from your passions for a long time, you might wonder where to start. Turner suggests starting in one of these four areas:
- Look back to your childhood. As children we often have many hobbies and interests, many of which bring us lots of joy. These might also be activities we could enjoy as adults.
- Make a list. If you’re not sure where to start, think about some of the common hobbies people have. Which ones sound interesting? Which ones would you not want to do?
- Think about who inspires you. We are often surrounded by inspiring people. Think about the people who inspire you the most. What about them inspires you and what feelings do they bring out in you?
- Make an inspiration board. Another fun way to reconnect with your passions is to create a board of things that inspire you. When you have a collection of things that inspire you, you can start to see themes emerge.
One of the challenges that I have encountered in establishing boundaries between my professional and personal life is actually having interesting non-work things to do. Having things to do that I genuinely look forward to doing makes it easier to stop working and practice self-care.
Prioritize What Really Matters
"I have learned that I have to organize my life to include time for me and my own personal priorities, no matter how busy life gets. Because when I do, life is better."
Turner is an incredibly accomplished woman with a full life. She fits in countless hobbies, time with family, meaningful spiritual activities and so on. The reason why she is able to find time for all of this is because she prioritizes what really matters. We all have the same amount of time in a day. Yet some people appear to fit in more than others. Turner suggests that they are able to lead full and fulfilling lives because they prioritize.
Think about what fills up your days and then decide which of those activities really matter. Which ones align with your values and bring you joy? Once you identify which activities matter, you can start to say to no to the others.
Self-care and time management are lifelong endeavors. Only by being intentional and mindful can we lead a life that is personally meaningful.