How to find time for friends you’ve neglected because you’re too busy
Want to have a truly balanced life? Friends are part of the equation – and they tend to be less demanding of our time than family or work. But you’ll need to put in a bit of effort.
A truly balanced life has five key components. While we may not always give all five areas equal time, in general, work, family, love, self-care and friends are all equally important.
The good news is that friends tend to be less demanding of our time than family members and bosses, so tending to our friendships can take up a lot less time than other demands.
Here are some tricks for giving your friendships more time and attention.
SCHEDULE FRIEND DATES
Just as you might schedule a date night or a business meeting, it’s important to build friendship maintenance into your weekly schedule.
Friend dates can be squeezed in around morning coffee or lunch so they don’t take time away from children, romantic partners or work deadlines.
If your home life will allow it, give yourself a friends’ night out once or twice a month, rotating the friends with whom you spend time.
A FEW MINUTES OF FRIENDSHIP GOES A LONG WAY
I’ve never forgotten an exchange with a friend when we were both working at a newspaper. I stopped by her desk with a question and noticed she was on deadline.
“That’s okay,” she said, turning around to show me I had her full attention. “I’ve always got five minutes for a friend.”
DON’T AVOID FRIENDS BECAUSE YOU CAN’T GIVE THEM HOURS OF YOUR ATTENTION
It takes only a few minutes of listening and care to make a connection and reinforce the bonds of friendship.
CONSISTENCY MATTERS MORE THAN FREQUENCY
Creating a tradition – even if it’s infrequent – is one of the best ways to sustain a friendship when life gets busy.
My mother-in-law has joined an annual reunion of her university cheerleader squad for the last 60 years.
Look at the calendar and start a new annual tradition with your friends (a joint birthday celebration, a dog walk, an adult Halloween treat night or a tax-day cocktail).
EXERCISE WITH FRIENDS
Scheduling exercise with a friend is a great way to stay connected, and it has the added bonus of boosting your physical well-being.
TAKE A CLASS TOGETHER
We have limited time for both our hobbies and our friends, so why not nurture both needs at the same time?
If you’ve signed up for an art class or a cake-decorating or cooking class, invite your friends to join you.
And if you get a similar invitation, just say yes, even if it’s a new hobby you haven’t tried.
By Tara Parker-Pope © The New York Times
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.