Pep Talks to Myself: Killing time is a waste of time

This is advice that I’m still learning to take. Advice that Instagram, specifically, makes it really hard for me to follow. Advice that would make my life more productive and HAPPIER if I followed it the majority of the time? I should be doing my damnedest to take that advice and apply it. Liberally.

Caitlin, killing time is a waste of time. Killing time is a WASTE of time.

I do pretty well. I don’t have games on my phone, I don’t go window shopping to fill a gap in my day, and I’ve always got a book in the car.

But INSTAGRAM, man. Instagram gets me. I follow so many women that I respect and admire, and I just want to see what they’re up to! And, to a certain extent, I need to be active on Instagram. I’ve gotten new readers to this Little Blog That Could from Instagram, I’ve made new friendships, and I’ve learned new tips. Instagram is an awesome space for knowledge growth and community. But it’s also an unholy time suck.

Because here is the hard truth: every minute that I waste on Instagram is a moment that I could be spending on myself or my work or my marriage.

We tell ourselves that we don’t have time, but we do. We’re just allocating that time the wrong way.

It’s called killing time for a reason. I’ve only got so many hours in each day, and I should be using those hours to their fullest, not killing a single one of them.

Do not get me wrong: leisure time is invaluable and indispensable. World domination is only possible if you take time to rest on the way. But this is where I really screw up: I waste the time I could use for purposeful leisure on mindless scrolling. I may be really, really up-to-date on messy Real Housewives drama, but I don’t have any time to read my book today.

I feel the most fulfilled, relaxed, and productive when I plan intentional time to decompress. Not killing ten minutes of time before the laundry is ready to be switched, not killing an hour before I meet my friends for drinks. There’s a big difference in my mood when I am spending the time in a way of my choosing, not in a way that happens to me.

If I know I have an hour between work and meeting friends, I’ll often bring my laptop so I can get writing done during that time. Or I’ll bring my book. Because I would rather spend that time doing an activity of my choosing, not scrolling on my phone.

Just like I plan out the rest of my day, I build in time for relaxing, watching T.V., reading my book, whatever. Maybe that means I’m no fun, but I know you all know me better than to think I care about that. I may be too structured or too busy or too un-fun, but so what? Who am I trying to impress?

MYSELF, that’s who. I’m trying to be the best version of me, and the best version of me doesn’t kill time. She uses her free time in a way that actually feels restorative and enjoyable. This can include Instagram (but with a timer set so I can’t get sucked too far into the hole), reality T.V., and Pinterest, but it should include more reading. My Goodreads goal for the year is to read 50 books, which is totally doable, but only if I make the time to read!

Scheduling time to relax is also very motivating to me. Knowing that I have an hour or two of solitude in the evening waiting for me (but that I can only have it if I cross off those deadline items) makes me work harder and more efficiently. Chipping away at that relaxation time with ten minutes here and there on Instagram ultimately means that I enjoy my day less.

When I kill time, I’m wasting my day. Life isn’t made up of what I do occasionally, it’s made of what I do consistently. And if I’m consistently wasting my day? Ugh. UGH! There are too many things I want to do. Too many experiences I want to have. Too many words I want to write.

Using time wisely is the greatest asset. People who are more successful than me, fitter than me, with stronger marriages than me — they’re not better than me. They’ve just spent more time perfecting their craft. Time is the secret. And I’m wasting those opportunities to be better when I kill time.

So, no, nope, I don’t believe in killing time. It makes me cringe when I hear the expression. Sure, maybe the movie doesn’t start for an hour. Is there an errand you could check off the list? You’re twenty minutes early to an appointment? Read the article you bookmarked on your phone last week. Ten minutes between meetings? Ok, that’s the perfect chunk of time to watch some Instagram stories. Or you could go over your plan for the week and assess your to-do list. Ten minutes are as valuable as you make them.

The difference between killing time and using it well can be so small. As with everything on this site, it’s about intention. It’s about doing the things you have to do so you can do the things you want to do.

Because, ultimately, the life I want isn’t going to just happen. I have to build it. For myself. And there’s no time to waste.

My intentions for a FRUITFUL 2018

I wrote last year about why I set intentions for the new year, not resolutions. Long story short, I think resolutions are a trap. A trap that tricks you into thinking you’re going to have a great year, full of change. But resolutions without matching intentional action plans are literally useless. If I’m speaking your language (or maybe more so if I’m not making any sense), click over to Ink’s blog, where I wrote all about HOW to set intentions that work. I outlined the methods I use to make big changes in my life, like starting a blog, growing my freelance business, and losing 30 pounds. Read it, please! Then come right back here.

Before I get started, a big shoutout to my life coaches from afar: Gretchen Rubin, Rachel Hollis, Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins, and the almighty Oprah. I love you all. (Please take three minutes and watch that linked Oprah video. It is hysterical and also kind of makes me cry?)

Ok, without further ado, MY INTENTIONS FOR A FRUITFUL 2018:

Resolution: Grow The Fruitful Blog
I love this space and interacting with all of you, so I want to keep the momentum going! To do so, I will post at least once each week, improve my photography skills (would you believe I have a food photography book that I’ve never ever looked at, let alone studied?), take an Instagram training that I’ve been putting off, and create and maintain a Fruitful Facebook page.
Daily intention: engage with all of you on Instagram and via the comments section here
Weekly intentions: publish one blog post; listen to two personal development podcasts
Monthly intentions: take one class, training, or similar, and make an actual plan to implement the knowledge

Resolution: Invest in our marriage
I want to work with Grant to make more intentional time together. I’m often so busy with work, blogging, freelance deadlines, and seeing friends during the week, that time with G is scheduled last. That needs to change! Daily intention: find intentional moments to talk and connect, even on days where we barely see each other (Ideas for this: sitting at the table for dinner, even if it’s just leftovers; have coffee together in the morning, even if it’s just for 10 minutes; give up my reading time in the evening for conversation instead (this one will be really hard!))
Weekly intention: have one planned, purposeful date
Monthly intention: read and discuss one chapter from a book about marriage, relationships, or communication (yes, this is terribly dorky 😍)

Resolution: Cozy our home (cozy can be a verb, ok!)
Right now, our house is full of renovation projects, college furniture, and clutter. A big, huge 2018 priority for the Wallaces is to create more liveable space in the house so we can actually enjoy it. We need to declutter, decorate, invest in furniture, and organize.
Daily intention: put things back where I found them (I am terrible at this); keep up with the dishwasher (clear kitchen counters make me SO happy, but they’re almost always covered with dishes 🙈)
Weekly intentions: declutter one room, closet, or area; actually take donations to Goodwill (drop-off on the way to get groceries!)
Monthly intentions: check off one bigger project: cleaning out my “closet” (a whole guest bedroom); move my office to the lightest, brightest guest bedroom; declutter and organize the basement; buy living room furniture; remodel the master bath; etc; etc; etc (This one will be hard, as some of these projects cost big money. I’ll revise as we go, with the solid intention of completing a major project each month.)

Resolution: Get even stronger
2018 is just another year on my eternal quest to build my best, strongest body that will enable me to lift heavy things, carry snuggly babies, and outrun a possible murderer. I’ll keep spinningzumba-ing, and lifting heavy things.
Daily intentions: exercise! Every day. No matter what.; avoid food splurges that aren’t “worth it” (homemade chocolate cake is worth it, and so are occasional Cheez-Its, but gas station donuts are a no from me, dawg)
Weekly intentions: do something that seems “too hard.” The only way I’ll see a real change in strength is to PUSH MYSELF.

Resolution: Save money
We’ve got big things to pay for this year — renovations, furniture, a trip or two — and I don’t need to be spending money on random stuff.
My role model here is Jordan Paige from Fun Cheap or Free. She has SO MANY good ideas for saving money and still living life.
Daily intentions: No makeup except for essentials (yes to replacing foundation and concealer, but no new glittery eyeshadows 😩); no clothes except for absolute essentials
Weekly intentions: Maintain my weekly grocery and “other” spending budget (watch this great video if you want to know more); meal plan based on the contents of my pantry, not the contents of my Pinterest
Monthly intentions: Transfer the budget surplus every month into savings account

I’ll be updating you all throughout the year on my progress, don’t worry! And, in case you’re curious, I’ll be using PowerSheets to track my progress, and, as always, a combination of the Simplified Planner and my Google Calendar to schedule it all.

For way more advice about setting your own intentions, read my article over on Ink’s blog today.

What are your intentions for a more fruitful 2018? 

Pep Talks to Myself: Exercise is not a punishment

Pep Talks to Myself is a series where I give myself (AND YOU) the tough-love advice that I need to hear. More ass-kicking here.

Two weeks ago, I committed to exercising every single day for the rest of the year. Yes, I had already been striving to exercise daily because of the 5 To Thrive, but I’d been missing a day here or there, and I needed to step it up. So now, I’m counting down to 2018 with my #exercisecountdown challenge.

To be clear, I’m not going full-out, drenched-in-sweat every single day. Those workouts are reserved for five days/week. Two days each week, I go on a thirty-minute “recovery” walk and follow up with some weight training. But the other days of the week, I am going ALL IN, pushing myself to the breathless, red-faced state that brings real change to a body.

Because here’s the thing: I do not care about being skinny. If I did, I wouldn’t be eating a #dailygrain or drinking wine or indulging in an office donut. I enjoy food way too much to care about the final pounds that really prevent me from having a totally flat stomach. Bodies are made in the kitchen so much more than they are made in the gym, and it’s very difficult to make a real change in your body without changing how you eat. Which — to be honest — I’m just not willing to do. Eating 100% clean to get ultra-skinny is NOT my style.

What I do care about? Like, a lot? Being strong. I want to be strong enough to move furniture, hold babies for hours at a time, and run from zombies (only kind of kidding there). Plus, I’ve found that consistent exercise is the only way to keep my wonky back in check, so I’m upping the consistency. Seven workouts each week. Period.

I’ve gotten mostly positive feedback after I posted about the challenge on Insta, but a comment I’ve heard a few times really bothered me. It didn’t hurt my feelings — I’ve got way thicker skin than that — but it made me really think about how exercise and fitness are perceived.

Several women — either via Instagram messages or in real life — have told me that they applaud my idea, but that they “don’t want to ruin Christmas with going to the gym” or that they “don’t have time to exercise during the holidays.”

Both of these ideas are TRAPS, ok?! Exercise is not a punishment. It’s NOT. Exercise is the most positive action you can take. When you think of exercise as a punishment and not a celebration, you are robbing yourself of the joy that exercise can bring.

If you’re rolling your eyes at me — I GET IT. I have been there. I used to hate exercise so much, so deeply. Some days, I still do. But I have seen the way that daily exercise has changed my life and my body for the better, and I cannot look back.

You know how they say that you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help others? Consistent exercise is kind of like that. When your heart and lungs and muscles are working hard, you’re laying a foundation of success for every other aspect of your life. Strenuous exercise leads to mental clarity, higher energy levels, and fewer junk food cravings. Sweating your face off multiple times each week makes your whole life better. It is not a punishment, it’s a requirement.

Adding exercise to your day does not ruin it. It doesn’t. There are at least sixteen waking hours in each day, and you’re going to spend one of them exercising. If you let that one hour ruin your whole day, I think that there are bigger fish to fry than the actual exercising.

Maybe you’ve just never found an exercise that you actually like. That’s totally, totally possible. Until I found workouts that were fun for me, I couldn’t get over the plateau to actually get fit. I really, really do not like running. But for a long time, that was my primary form of exercise. WHY. Why did I do this to myself? (I was too cheap to try exercise classes and too lazy to research inexpensive options.) So yes, working out felt like a punishment in those years where I had to force myself to go for a run.

As far as a workout ruining Christmas? It doesn’t have to. Getting a workout in on Christmas will be challenge. That much is true. Your gym is likely closed, and it may be too cold to get outside for a quick run. BUT, that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Can you do a pilates video on YouTube with your mom before presents? Can you play tag (like really play, running just as hard as they are) with your nieces and nephews for thirty minutes? Does the driveway need shoveling? Being active doesn’t have to include a drive to the gym or a sports bra every day.

And as far as not having time? That’s on you, girl. That may be hard to hear, but evaluate your life and really assess whether or not you have time to exercise. If you’re waking up only 30 minutes before you have to leave for work, you have time to exercise. If you watch T.V. after work, you have time to exercise. If you spend multiple nights each week at happy hour with your friends, you have time to exercise. (I’m sure there are a few of you that work two jobs and only get five hours of sleep as it is. You are the exception, not the rule, and I am not hating on you.)

Until you see exercise as the most important task of the day, the task that gets rescheduled or cancelled as an absolute last resort, you won’t have time for it. But once you see exercise as essential, it becomes hard to make time for oversleeping or watching mindless T.V. (though, btw, you can still watch Bravo on the treadmill in most gyms).

My advice? Go get your planner or open your Google calendar, and plan your workout for tomorrow. Where can you fit 30 minutes or an hour? Could you change your happy hour plans to a long walk with friends? Can wake up an hour early and dig out a dusty exercise DVD? Once you’ve planned for tomorrow, KEEP GOING. Plan for the rest of the week. Once you start, you cannot stop. Make it a habit, not something you do occasionally when you remember.

I’m trying a new class at work tomorrow, so I’ll have to leave early for the office and eat lunch at my desk to make it work — but I’m making it work! Scheduling life is a puzzle — figuring out how to make the pieces fit is up to you. Some weeks, I’m jamming two pieces together with a closed fist, but I’m doing it.

I hope this tough love kicked your butt a tiny bit. I hope you exercise this week. I hope it’s more than once.

There are only 21 days left in 2017!!! Are you going to start 2018 on the way to being your best self, or are you going to show up January 1 the same you that you’ve always been? It’s up to you❣️, but I’m here to help. Leave a comment or message me on Instagram so I can spread the encouragement!

How do you fit exercise into a busy week?

#TreatMoment How I take a breath, recenter, and power through a busy week

Hi friends! Coming at you from the beginning of yet another busy day. This hustle lifestyle doesn’t seem like it’ll slow down anytime soon (40-hr workweek, freelance assignments, gym time, friends and family, holidays rapidly approaching), so I’m here today to share the ways I indulge without getting totally off-track.

Living healthfully is super important to me. I make every effort to exercise consistently, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep. This means that I miss out on some stuff: pizza for lunch, cocktails while I make dinner, sleeping in, late-night texting conversations. BUT, it also means that, when I do treat myself, it feels like a special treat. Not just a normal Wednesday.

Being conscious of these treat moments is one of my secrets to staying positive when I am overscheduled to the max. Taking 15 minutes for a treat moment re-ups my motivation, so I’m ready to keep going.

Your treat moments will likely be different than mine. But these ideas can almost always make me feel better momentarily and reset my attitude. Which means I feel better in the long-run. Win-wine (I mean win-win. Genuine typo that I refuse to correct 😜 ).


  • Eat something indulgent. This one is tricky. It’s super-easy to set out to eat one indulgent thing and end up finding last year’s Christmas candy where you hid it from yourself in January. Been there.

    But, and here’s the secret, if you plan the one indulgence and think of it as one treat, not the beginning of a series of treats, it can totally work. For me, this may be a trip to Andy’s Frozen Custard (concrete with peanut butter and raspberries, thank you) or ordering the fried chicken sandwich for lunch.
    This tip does not work for me if I “treat myself” to the stale cookies I found in the pantry. It’s like my brain knows that the cookies were a consolation prize for the indulgence I really wanted. Eating those stale cookies is a way more consistent trigger for an emotional eating backslide than eating one perfect slice of cake.

    Since I don’t keep food like this around the house, I have to go out of my way to indulge, which makes this work even better: if I know that I want to get my HyVee Chinese food for dinner (don’t judge, it’s weirdly good while also being total junk), I eat clean-as-hell the rest of the day, and the next day, too. That doesn’t mean I starve myself, but it does mean that I stay away from grains and load up on the veggies.

    Purposeful indulgence is better than mindless gorging. This I know is true.
  • Rest your eyes. Really.

    Last Sunday, I was dead on my feet. I’d been out late the night before, had spent the day exercising and doing chores, and my eyes had the heavy, watery feeling they have before you fall asleep involuntarily in front of the T.V. I was about to go make myself coffee, but I did something different: I set a timer for 20 minutes, and I closed my eyes. Did anyone else’s parents do this? Mine did, and now I totally get why. I still had stuff to do, it was too late in the day to take a for-real nap, but I just needed to power down for a few minutes. I lay there under a cozy blanket, in the dark (since 4:30 is basically pitch-black now), and dozed.

    I didn’t feel like a brand new woman or anything when the timer went off, but I did feel like I could power through the rest of the afternoon without coffee. Huge victory.
  • Make time (even a little time!) for the thing you love. In a crazy busy week, the kind where I’m going,going,going from the time my feet hit the floor until bedtime, I try and find at least fifteen minutes each day to read. Sometimes this means taking an afternoon treadmill walk with my book (hey, two birds, one stone, ok?) or it can be while dinner roasts in the oven.
    I love reading and learning new things, and making time for that hobby helps me feel like a crazy week is more in my control.
  • Have a date night. This one is truly the hardest to pull off, for several reasons. When my weeks are busy, that means I have likely scheduled events and tasks within an inch of their lives, so rescheduling for date night feels next to impossible. BUT, with enough elbow grease, it can normally happen. Maybe the two hours of work I needed to do in the evening can happen with an early wake-up call and a desk lunch the next day.
    Downside of winter date nights is terrible lighting.

    The second obstacle is ensuring that I’m not so stressed from the week that I am a total grouch during said date night. This one I am still working on.

    A date night can be theatre tickets you’ve been looking forward to for weeks, or even just wine and UNO on the couch. No T.V. though! If I want to stare at a screen without talking for hours at a time, I’ll go back to work 😂

    Even spending just 20 intentional date minutes together is better than nothing. Maybe taking the time to drink coffee together before the day really starts? (Note to self: this sounds lovely, and we should actually do that more often.) It’s easier to hustle through a packed day if you start with something to smile about!

I know I’m not the only one with a jam-packed schedule. My freelance deadline is your carpool to soccer practice or marathon training or having a way-cleaner house than I do. Pretty please share your treat moments in the comments!  I’m sure we all need all the ideas we can get.

#FruitfulMondays: How I set the pace for my week

Ok, here we are. End of October. By my count, there are 70 days left in 2017, which means we’ve barely made a dent in the #last90days Challenge. In case you’re out of the loop, this challenge is meant set you on an upward trajectory for 2018 by helping you to establish the habits you need. (It’s not too late to sign up)! I outlined my intended habits in this Insta post ⬇⬇⬇

View this post on Instagram

Front porch sitting and reflecting on my #last90days goals. I'm using this time to refine habits that I've dabbled in, setting the lifestyle that I want to maintain for all of 2018 and to infinity and beyond. . . . 1. Publish one blog post each week. (Keep me accountable, please!) 👌🏼 . 2. Only drink alcohol in social situations, like book club or date night. Not alone in bed with my book. 😇 . 3. Eat grains at only one meal each day. (I'll eat more vegetables AND this will help me control my 3 PM stress-snacking.) #dailygrain . 4. Exercise daily 🏃🏻‍♀️💃🏻🚴🏻‍♀️ . 5. Speak kindly to my husband❣️In times of stress (hello, holiday season), I snap at G over little, meaningless things. 🙈 No. More. . . . What are your goals for #last90days?

A post shared by Caitlin Wallace (@caitlinmwallace) on

So how are my goals going?

  1. I have published a blog post each week, including this one (which is posting while I return from 😍honeymooning😍).
  2. Success! The bottles in our liquor cabinet are collecting dust.
  3. I have been about 75% successful at eating grains only once each day. Which is pretty damn good, I think. Basically, I’m encouraging myself to go for veggies and protein before I reach for a popcorn/pretzel/leftover plain pasta.
  4. Besides one on-purpose rest day, I have kept this up! Each week, I’ve been zumba-ing once or twice, going on runs with Grant, and spinning. I can definitely tell a difference in my energy levels during the day: I’m staying more alert with less coffee, but I fall asleep HARD come 9:30 p.m.
  5. I’m working my hardest to take deep breaths, speak calmly and honestly, and be affectionate instead of snappy. Is it working? You can ask my husband 😌.

One realization I’ve come to while doing this challenge is that Mondays set the tone for the entire week. In the past, I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of thinking that Mondays are like a post-weekend warmup day. Yes, I’ve got to get stuff done, but I should ease myself into the week. This is b.s.

Come Monday, I should be exercising harder, making time for my husband, snacking smarter, and getting up early to write. I’ve been aware of the fitness mantra “Never miss a Monday” for a while, but I’m using it now to frame my whole week: never miss a Monday for any healthy habit.

Having a fruitful Monday means that you’re on track for a “perfect” week. You won’t want to ruin your good efforts with 10:30 a.m. Cheetos on Tuesday after you stuck to raw almonds Monday morning. Springing out of bed for a still-dark-outside run will be easier if you’re adding on to the efforts you made Monday.

*HUGE, MONSTER CAVEAT* “Perfect” is in quotes up there because it should be taken with an enormous grain of salt. Perfect isn’t an achievable standard. Stuff is going to come up, you’re going to get stuck in traffic and miss that 6 p.m. spin class, and there will be a baby shower at work the same day you’re abstaining from sugar. Shit happens. That doesn’t mean that you (1) give into temptation, or (2) beat yourself up if you do succumb. Failing to meet one goal is too often an excuse to shelve the other goals and start over again on Monday. This version of “Never miss a Monday” is NOT THAT. *OKAY CAVEAT OVER BYE*

If you live your Monday like your ideal day, it makes it that much easier for each and every day to be an ideal day. Jump out of bed when your alarm goes off, sip your coffee while you write in your gratitude journal, give it your all at the gym, make that protein smoothie when you really want waffles, and on and on.

Live your Monday the way you want to live the rest of your week. For me, this means checking all the Five to Thrive boxes ⬇⬇⬇ and sticking to the schedule and to-do list I set for myself. I should earn that downtime in the evening.

Courtesy of the Chic Site and its #last90days challenge
I make sure to meet all five goals above and prioritize the goals below. There’s some overlap, and that’s on purpose. Those goals are just extra-important.

Get up on time. Oversleeping on a Monday is the worst thing I can do for my week. If I rush into work and leave no “me” time in the morning, I will be a cranky ass, guaranteed. If I miss my Monday morning workout and know all day long that I’m going to have to exercise after sitting in traffic for an hour after work… let’s just say the rest of my day pays dearly for that realization. Waking up at an ungodly hour and allowing myself time to read, write, and exercise before I clock in makes me a better person. This is not hyperbole, as I’m sure my coworkers, friends, and family can attest.

Eat healthfully. To me, this means prioritizing vegetables and protein. Listen, I love food. Love it. By Friday, my beloved cucumbers and hummus taste like nothing and also disgusting. Which is why I try my best to eat 80/20: 80% healthfully and 20% whatever I want. This leaves room for pizza and wine with my book club while also encouraging me to stick to salad and tuna more often than not.

Be PRODUCTIVE. I try to get the most dreaded task of the whole week done on Monday, or at least a huge chunk of it. If there are freelance calls I don’t want to make, or a nasty task at work I’m not looking forward to, tackling it on Monday means it’s over, and I can have a much more positive outlook for the rest of my workweek.

Notice that I said I “try” to do this. I suck at doing this consistently, but I have seen a real difference between the weeks where I make this a priority and the weeks where I don’t.

Exercise. Each and every day. Sweat, ache, breathe heavily. If I still look cute when I’m done, I didn’t go hard enough. This isn’t about being skinny. It’s about being strong and healthy, so I can outrun a zombie and keep up with my future kids.

Laying everything out the night before is my best tip (but it’s usually a pile and not a flat lay 😜).
Keep it low key. Ok, I am all about a Monday happy hour. Decompressing with friends and having that to look forward to can be a great motivator to get through the work day. But the last thing I need is to wake up with foggy wine head and dry dehydrated mouth on Tuesday morning. So I limit my drinks to two and up my water intake if I’ll be drinking.

Go to bed on time. Similarly, going into Tuesday with a sleep deficit is just punishing my tomorrow self. So, unless it is a really special occasion (which can totally be just a girls night movie), I try to be asleep by 9:30. It takes me less than 10 minutes to fall asleep because I’m so tired from all the exercising 💥

I would love for all of this not to be true. I’d love to be able to phone Monday in and treat it like extended Sunday (so I still exercise and eat healthfully, but maybe I also watch TV for five hours). But I’ve seen the way giving Mondays my all has changed my whole life. So now ✨Monday Funday✨ is my favorite day (even if I’m just telling myself that). Hey, they say seeing is believing, and I have seen the results.

What do you do to have a #FruitfulMonday?