My Favorite “Me Time” Activities… and One Reason I’m so Productive

posted by Andrea | 12/14/2016
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me time activities

A couple months ago, I challenged myself to see how much time I could make to read (something I previously made ZERO time to do). I was shocked and surprised that I plowed through 9 books in about 6 weeks — more books than I had read in the previous 6+ years combined!

One of the books I read was The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner.

I thought this was just another book about time management — however, once I started reading, I realized it was actually about making more time for ourselves and the activities we enjoy.

The author explained how our own happiness is essential if we want to adequately care for our spouse, our children, our homes, our careers, etc. We can’t neglect our own needs, passions, hobbies, and favorite pastimes for too long; otherwise we’ll become tired, grumpy, cynical, and even physically ill.

Can anyone relate?

The book gave countless examples of ways we can make more time for ourselves, do more of the things we enjoy, and (as a result) live happier, more fulfilling lives. Everything from weekly date nights, monthly coffee outings with friends, weekend retreats throughout the year, a massage or pedicure, an afternoon of shopping, or even just putting the housework off for a day to read a favorite book or veg-out in front of the TV.

I found myself nodding as I read through many of the pages… but at the same time, I came away from the book wondering why I almost never feel the need to indulge in any of the favorite me time activities she mentioned.

Shopping for an afternoon sounds like pure torture, going to a busy restaurant or coffee shop to pay 5 times more for something that I could make in the comfort of my own home just seems like a waste of time and money, and I honestly think I’d rather recline in my dentist’s chair for a checkup than have someone touch my feet for 30 minutes! That said, I think I could potentially handle a short message as long as all my clothing stayed on and the masseuse was female — but I’m not going to risk it any time soon 🙂

Yes, I realize how insane this might sound to some (many) of you; but the idea of going on a weekend retreat or a coffee date just to “get away” sounds insane to me. What do I want to “get away” from? I LOVE being home! 

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For the last 2 months, I’ve continued to mull over the concepts I read in The Fringe Hours, wondering why I rarely ever feel the need for traditional forms of “me time” (especially since I’m often smothered by 3 children all day long!)

What I realized is that I actually DO enjoy “me time”… but my “me time” is often spent on everyday tasks that so many others want to get away from.

For example:

Cleaning is actually something I enjoy for the most part. Not only do I get so much satisfaction from the end result (even if it only stays clean until the kids wake up the next day), but it’s also a great stress-reliever. I just zone out and clean while I think about whatever I want to think about.

Starting (and finishing) an organizing project is something I often look forward to all day (or even for multiple days). I love tweaking things to find the best, most efficient way to organize a space — and of course, I love PURGING!

Rearranging furniture and finding new uses for items in my home is oddly energizing for me. Before we had children, Dave knew to just go to bed on his own if I was in the middle of one of my “I want to rearrange this room” phases. I might have stay up until 1:00am tweaking things until I felt the room was “just right”… and I loved every minute of that time! Nowadays, I don’t let myself skip out on sleep to rearrange a room, but I do still make time to switch things up every now and then!

Cooking and baking is almost always therapeutic — not necessarily when I involve the kids, but if I can find some time to bake after they are in bed, I can feel the stress melting away.

Gardening is cathartic for me — offering a physical way to release frustration and exercise creativity. Even though we live in West MI, Dave and I often end up doing some form of yard work every single month of the year — whether it’s pulling weeds, deadheading plants, pruning trees, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or transplanting perennials; there is always more I’d like to do!

Working on my digital photo albums is the closest thing I have to a “hobby” and I look forward to adding my new photos at the end of every month. It’s my “reward” after finishing all my monthly invoices and expenses (something I also do at the end of every month.)

Even writing blog posts and interacting with various readers via email, social media, and comments is something I thoroughly enjoy 98% of the time. I often think through various topics and blog post ideas throughout the day, and the words just seem to flow through my fingers when I’m finally able to just sit and write after the kids are in bed.

And that list above is the main reason I’m able to accomplish so much every day!

Not only do I get paid to share my cleaning tips, organizing projects, simple recipes, and time management advice, I also really REALLY enjoy doing it all (both the cleaning/organizing and the sharing about it on my blog).

These are some of my favorite pastimes, my cherished “me time” activities, the things I just can’t wait to do once my children are soundly sleeping each night.

Yes, that means I would almost always choose to clean, bake, organize, write, or arrange furniture over getting a massage, going out for dinner, or having a girls weekend.

If you share my love of all domestic activities, you most likely understand how convenient it can be to use our “me time” in productive ways, completing tasks we need to do anyway.

However, for the majority of you, I assume this might be difficult to comprehend 🙂

If you fall into that majority group who can’t even fathom using “me time” to clean, organize, bake, or pull weeds, I hope this post will help to ease some of your guilt and frustration now that you realize how [weird, crazy, insane] I am!

lasagna

You see, I agree with the book — we all must make some time for ourselves on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I don’t think it’s smart or healthy to constantly deny our own happiness just for the sake of crossing one more thing off our to-do lists. Obviously the cooking and cleaning need to happen at some point, but it might not be the end of the world if they have to wait a day or so if it means you are a happier and healthier person.

I guess the trick is just to find that happy-medium area where you have time to do those necessary household tasks AND a little time left over for yourself.

This happy-medium looks different for every person and every situation so I don’t have a great solution to instantly solve your time management equation. If you’re “lucky enough” (also read “crazy enough”) to enjoy cooking, cleaning, gardening, and organizing, you will probably have less trouble working adequate “me time” into your daily routine.

However, if those activities aren’t all that enjoyable for you, I would encourage you to come up with at least one thing you really love doing and figure out a way to work that thing into your daily or weekly routine — even if it means letting the laundry sit for a day (I can’t believe I just typed that!)

Also, I’m certain many of you have great examples of how you work “me time” into your daily and weekly routines. I know so many others could benefit from reading your advice and ideas, so I’d love to know…

How do YOU fit “me time” into your schedule?

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44 comments

  1. Fiona

    01/07/2017

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    [Reply]

  2. Carrie Willard

    12/17/2016

    Actually, I think most women are like you in that they enjoy the domestic activities you talk about. But to each her own. Some love singing, painting, crafting ( things I am bad at!). I love to write and read. I find time in the early morning – I am up by 5 every day to work on my blog because I have 7 kids and am homeschooling and that’s the only time I can focus on the thing that I love to do.

    You have motivated me to finish reading Jessica’s book! I have it but didn’t finish it 🙂

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  3. JEANETTE

    12/16/2016

    Andrea what a joy to be able to say “I love being home”
    I left an unhappy marriage a year and a half ago so love when you write how happy you are to have Dave home for the holidays… I never had that feeling while I was married but didn’t really know any different.
    I’d like to take this chance to wish you and your lovely family a happy Christmas

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Wow, thanks so much Jeanette! Merry Christmas to you too!

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  4. Mary in Maryland

    12/15/2016

    Being alone is good for me. After a full weekend–church, meetings, friends to dinner–I love sending my husband to work with his lunch on Monday morning. I spend the day doing laundry, cleaning/purging the basement, pulling detritus out of the outside drains, and turning the compost. Alone. In silence. With joy.
    Quilting and knitting also nourish me. My quilt room is next to our bathroom, so I often squeeze in ten or fifteen minutes while waiting for my turn. I love knitting at meetings and while my husband drives (he loves it because I give so much less advice) . I leave a little knitting project in the dining room to prolong our after dinner conversations.
    I had a pedicure once. I hated having someone touching my feet, but loved how they felt afterwards. It was an educational experience, and I’ve incorporated many parts of the pedicure into my routine.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Mary!
    Dave would probably love it if I took up knitting so I could also knit while he drives 🙂

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  5. Monica Bender

    12/15/2016

    I don’t think you’re odd for enjoying and finding it so fulfilling and rewarding to take care of your husband and children. To me, its very refreshing to know that there are people around who’s main concern in life reaches far beyond themselves. After all, that’s what our creator designed us to find fulfillment in. I also am energized by taking care of my family and all that entails. You go!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Monica 🙂
    I was more saying I was “odd” because I actually enjoy the act of cleaning 🙂 However, you’re right — that is one very tangible way I take care of my family and show them how much I care.

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  6. Leanne

    12/15/2016

    I actually cut a lot of “me time” out of my schedule this past fall by sending my kids to school after homeschooling for 3 years and taking a part time job at the school’s preschool, working about 16-20 hours a week…and I’m so much happier for it! This society has a way of stressing “me”… when God really stresses “others” and says that’s where our happiness will lie…
    I do exercise right after I drop the boys off at school in the morning (the gym is literally 30 seconds from the school)…but, my best days are when I feel like I accomplished my tasks at home efficiently and left time for focusing on other people– my husband, kiddos, and co-workers…
    And… I like you.. will not sacrifice sleep! I’d probably drop exercising if it meant having to get up EARLIER!!!
    thanks for writing probably the best blog I read every day, Andrea! Merry Christmas!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Leanne!
    I agree, we shouldn’t be SOLELY focused on “me time”, but I do think we all need a little time to regroup, refuel, and do something we enjoy on a very regular basis — whether that’s exercising, cleaning, cooking, gardening, going for coffee with friends, or getting a massage.
    I know from personal experience that if I start feeling run-down and neglected, I will not be as eager or willing to help others. On the flip side, if I have a little time to do something I enjoy, I’m much more excited about meeting the needs of the others around me as well. So I think the two go hand-in-hand.

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  7. Emily

    12/14/2016

    I love to sew and find that a perfect fit for my “me time” where I can do something productive and creative. I typically set a timer for 30 minutes during nap time for my littles (quiet time for my big kids) and sew for that time period. I’m thankful to have a designated sewing space in our home so once the 30 minutes is up, I can tidy up quickly, then walk away from my project. I think “me time” can look different during different stages in our lives and, like you stated in your post, it’s about finding a balance. Great post with great perspective Andrea! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    It is very helpful to have designated areas for things as it makes starting and stopping so much easier! I actually just moved my sewing maching down to my office so I could access it easier — and wouldn’t you know, I’ve used it SO much more!

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  8. Michelle

    12/14/2016

    I absolutely loved this post!!!

    I am fortunate enough to stay at home so I spend my days cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, organizing, purging, etc. Although I don’t mind doing these things, love the end result and feel great when I’ve gotten a lot accomplished, I consider it my job and not really my “me” time. I feel I need more than that to feel fulfilled. My “me” time is the things I do after all that is finished. It’s never anything extravagant, indulgent, or expensive. Since my husband works long hours and has a long commute he’s often too tired for engaging in conversation or activities once he comes home. So I like to just get out of the house occasionally to be around other people for a little bit, whether it’s spending time with my daughters, shopping (for necessary things), or just taking a walk. If I decide to stay home I will do something that I enjoy like crafting, taking a long bath, or something else “selfish”.

    Here’s where the problem lies…Since I don’t have an outside job I have lots of time to get everything done I need to get done and I still have lots of time for “me” stuff. The adult women in my life (who have jobs outside the home) are very resentful because I have the time for all this and they don’t. I often hear sarcastic, hurtful comments from them. I end up feeling guilty doing these “selfish” things. As a result I have kind of distanced myself from them and try not to talk about what I do with my time when I am around them.

    I am just wondering if you ever encounter people who seem to have a problem with your productive, seemingly satisfied life? If so, how do you handle it?

    Thank you so much for writing this post and for enlightening us to the fact “me” time doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Michelle — for your encouraging words and for sharing your story.
    I can DEFINITELY see how others would look at your situation and give you a hard time. In fact, I know several people who would simply assume you have “nothing to do” and are “too lazy” to get a job — when in reality, they are just “resentful” as you mentioned. It’s unfortunate that working women can’t just accept that some women actually really DO love being home!

    As for me, since I have 3 little kids at home with me right now, I don’t get any rude comments or have resentful friends (at least not that I notice). Everyone assumes that I have plenty to do with 3 kids, my blog, and my house. That said, I’ve already been asked COUNTLESS times what I will do when all the kids are in school — as if I absolutely MUST do something other than what I’m doing now once they are gone to school every day.

    I always just respond by saying, “I don’t know, I’ll worry about that when we get there.” So I know it’s coming for me too!

    I have no fabulous tips or words of wisdom — except to stand strong, realize those people are most likely just envious of your “more free” schedule, and maybe find new friends, but I know that’s not great advice!

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    Michelle Reply:

    Ha…it just amazes me how people can make such judgments without fully knowing a person. I always have plenty to do and nobody who knows me would call me lazy.

    I forgot to mention my husband and I have a small, home based, seasonal business I manage and help out with. We used to be very busy but we’re scaling back due to time and age.

    There are times I get so busy I find myself wondering how working women find the time to get everything done.

    It’s just amazing how much a woman can accomplish when she needs to.

    Thanks, Andrea, for your input!

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    JEANETTE Reply:

    Michelle…anyone making sarcastic hurtful comments is not your friend…as you said yourself they are just “women in your life”
    Enjoy your time however you choose to spend it
    They would never admit it but they are jealous
    We all do things differently…we all enjoy different things…our families are all different…the world over
    Jeanette in Melbourne Australia

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh guy… so you’re running a business and you still get crap from your friends. Boo to them — you are awesome!

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  9. Erin

    12/14/2016

    I’m definitely a homebody but didn’t think of how that affects my me-time until I read your post. One night last week, my husband offered to watch the kids and take care of bedtime so I could go out and have a break, which was really nice, but the only thing I could think of was going to Starbucks and buying an awfully expensive drink. Instead, I stayed home and watched “This Is Us” while he took care of the kids, and I had a fabulous time. 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s so great! What a nice hubby too 🙂
    Glad you enjoyed your “free night”

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  10. Dmr

    12/14/2016

    I wish I enjoyed de-cluttering and cleaning. Anxiety and dread are the two emotions I experience when thinking of all the things I want done but don’t do.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha! well, you could always barter with a friend or relative to trade chores a couple times a month. Or, if you’re able, hire out the cleaning to make more time for the things you enjoy. It might be worth it to lower your anxiety and increase your happiness!

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  11. Debbie

    12/14/2016

    As someone who works outside the home and an introvert part of my me time is just to be home. I consider me time downtime, meaning my environment has to feel relaxing. I can’t relax much when there’s a list of things that should be done, or my surrounding looks chaotic. I also need that massage now and again which comes to only once or twice a year. When my husband and I were dating he told me he’s never had a massage and probably never will because he doesn’t want a stranger to touch him or feel ticklish in certain areas. Somehow I convinced him to try a massage from my masseuse who was like a grandma. Now he loves getting it done too. It’s the only time when my focus is only on the soothing background music and the release of muscle tension in my body.

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — i’m impressed you convinced your husband to give it a try. maybe Dave and I will “brave it” together… someday 😉

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  12. Shelly Cluff

    12/14/2016

    While I do love a clean house, and usually prefer to stay in than go out, I happily trade some time to write and let some chores sit for the rest of the day! I just wrote about this yesterday as a matter of fact: http://www.cluffcentral.com/2016/12/what-i-dont-do-because-i-blog-everyday.html

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is great! I also do almost ALL my writing after the kids are in bed so I’m thankful Dave often helps clean up the house. Also, I love your griddle!

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    Shelly Cluff Reply:

    I love that griddle! I use it constantly, probably three or four times a week, and it’s a dream to clean!

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  13. Bonnie'sMama

    12/14/2016

    As a fellow introvert and total homebody, I get this. I would much rather spend a free afternoon tidying up my home while listening to podcasts or an audio book than go shopping or go out for coffee or go just about anywhere. It makes me very very happy to straighten up my home, get some freezer cooking done, or straighten and declutter the basement.

    Andrea, if you haven’t read them yet, you really should read Gretchen Rubin’s books “The Happiness Project” and “Happier at Home.” I think they would really resonate with you. One thing she learned about happiness is that you have to do what is fun for you. If you don’t like to shop or get a pedicure or go out for coffee, that’s okay! People need to find what actually makes them happy, not what “They” think is fun.

    It’s really beautiful, encouraging, and inspiring for me to hear from someone who is fulfilled and happy being a wife, mom, and homemaker and who finds joy in doing normal, everyday things. Blessings on you as you joyfully embrace the roles God has called you to.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, yes! I need to read her books! I actually JUST went to my library account and put a hold on these books. I’ll get them soon 🙂

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    Rhonda Mullin Reply:

    I’ve read a few of Gretchen Rubin’s books too. I agree that Andrea might find them useful. I also think that often people are not aware of how introverted and extroverted they are – it’s refreshing that Andrea realizes that she likes to be home, and says “that’s okay!” A book on this subject that I found useful is “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. It’s not as quick of a read as “Fringe Hours”, but packed with a lot of useful information. I never realized how introverted I was until reading this book. I do love socializing, but definitely need the down time to re-energize.

    Great article, Andrea!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Rhonda, another book to add to my (growing) list 🙂

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  14. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    12/14/2016

    My me-time is definitely quite similar. I love to organize and rearrange and just be home. When my husband was home all day as an online student, I started to find that my me-time was when he went somewhere I could be home alone. I don’t know why, but I just like to have the whole house to myself sometimes. I get so much done and really enjoy the time!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh how I love having the house to myself! Last week, Dave had a meeting after the kids were sleeping so I sat in peace and quiet working on my photo album and blog posts for 2 whole hours. It was glorious!

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  15. ei

    12/14/2016

    Thank you for this post, Andrea! I talk about self-care ALOT in my work and I’m always frustrated that it has this reputation for only meaning pedicures, coffee at Starbucks, and spending money. I might print off your post to share with the caregivers I work with to challenge them to think more broadly about self-care.

    I also thank you for articulating something that I’ve often thought but never realized. Yeah, I often think after a pedicure, “I guess that was nice, but I don’t think it was work the 30 or 40 bucks it cost.” I often thought there was something wrong with me for not reaping these huge therapeutic benefits.

    Keep up the good work with your blog. I really appreciate your “you do you” message. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks! I remember thinking that I must not need any ‘self care’ or ‘me time” since none of those types of activities appeal to me. But I really DO need that self-care and me-time — I just spend it in very different ways from most women I know 🙂

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  16. Beatriz

    12/14/2016

    Great post and yes I definitely agree you may be one of the few who finds comfort and “me-time” in cleaning 😀

    I prefer knitting or crochet projects for some me time. I also have to encourage you to go for it with a deep tissue massage – sans clothing. I too would prefer a female masseuse but take the dive! Before I had a massage I always thought them a waste of time and money but afterward, the feeling of absolute relaxation was incredible. It is weird the first time to be almost naked in front of someone you’ve only known for 30 seconds but once you get over that – totally worth it!

    Of course, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to be naked in front of others but if you ever feel like taking a risk, that is one I recommend. Way better than jumping out of a plane in my opinion. 🙂

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    Olga Reply:

    I completely agree with you regarding massage. In the beginning it was necessity for me because of the pinched nerve in my hip area, but now (can’t believe i am typing this!) I truly enjoy every minute of my weekly 2 hour massage. I am still fully aware of my minimally “dressed up” self, however there wasn’t time i felt uncomfortable or overexposed. So, finding right person is essential. I’ve talked myself into this by reminding that if i managed to bring three little people into this world, in front of different sets of strangers, then limited exposure of different parts of my body to the same person(female) in convenience of my home is just a “piece of cake” and actually quite beneficial from my experience. Worth every $.

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    Andrea Reply:

    WOW — I can’t even believe a person could give someone else a massage for 2 hours straight. Also, do you ever feel like you just need to get up and walk around or is laying there for 2 hours no big deal? I can’t imagine being still for 2 hours 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I’ll keep this in mind if I ever decide to get a massage! And have you actually jumped out of a plane?

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  17. ruth

    12/14/2016

    It’s nice to know I am not alone 🙂

    My most favorite pastime, is to purge, reorganize and then clean. Whenever I feel my stress level rising, I get a trashbag and go through the whole house from top to bottom, emptying garbage cans and throwing away anything and everything that needs to be or could be tossed. Then I get another bag, and go through the house again, looking for things to donate or sell. Then I reorganize and clean everything.

    At this point, my dh and three teens know that the way to make me happy is to keep things clean and to purge!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    You’re definitely not alone! We might be in the minority, but I know several other purge-lovers like us 🙂

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  18. sukanya

    12/14/2016

    Your idea is exactly how I would like to spend my “me time”. I would rather do a load of laundry, fold and put it away, cook few extra dishes for later, or vacuum rather than sit in front of the TV trying to enjoy when I know there are so many chores to be done around the house. Finishing up work around the house makes me more relaxed and satisfied. Love your blog and relate to every one of your posts!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much 🙂 I know not all people are wired the same way, but it sure is helpful that I actually enjoy most of my housework. I “kill 2 birds with 1 stone” so to speak — I accomplish a few of my to-dos AND feel happier and more relaxed after doing it!

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  19. Roxanne

    12/14/2016

    I commute via public transit into the city everyday, so there’s 40 minutes on each end of my day to go on Facebook, check email, read blogs (like yours!) and be grateful that I don’t have to sit in traffic, pay for parking and worry about getting to work on time.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know others who utilize thier commuting time to “zone out” on the internet. Then, they are more focused at work and when they get home because they got their “internet fix” in already!

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