Okay, this week I wanted to finish off the list of life tweaks you can use to build time into your day to prioritize your favorite people. You know who I am talking about! Your parents, your friends, your siblings and cousins, your children. I know the list is long, but that is so awesome, right?!
Life is filled with so many amazing relationships. That is why it is so key to get organized enough to maintain them with the same effort and attention you give to all your important tasks and projects. If this comes easily to you, that is great! For me, it takes some planning and even then I still go through times when I think, “When was the last time I talked to (insert name of friend here)?” That’s always a wake up call to get back on track and reevaluate my time management and priorities. And that, my friend, is an ongoing process. Expecting and accepting that things are always changing takes the guilt out and puts the fun back into life, don’t you think?
On that note, let’s get back to the list! See the previous post here so you can get caught up…
I love this one! Sit down and visualize, write out, draw or otherwise document your future. What do you see there? This is a chance to relax, get quiet and really envision the awesomeness. Don’t let fears and worries get in the way, just picture the happiest scenario you can imagine. Are you surrounded by friends and family? Do you have adorable kids? An incredible partner? Are you traveling the world? Or tending your veggie garden? Chances are your ideal future has other people in it. If not, stop here. Just kidding, OF COURSE, the people you like and love are part of your happy future! Once you can envision it, it paves the way for making the decisions and commitments that will lead you to where you want to go. Start with the end in mind, girl! Just like any other kind of goal setting, it is hard to get somewhere until you consciously decide where you want to end up.
Now that you are clear about who you want to see in your life now and in the future, you can go about the business of growing existing relationships and cultivating new ones that fit into your amazingly happy future. Yay! So back at the way beginning of this list (#1), you let go of relationships that weren’t happy and fulfilling. That means you now have more time and energy for the people you already have in your life who are absolutely wonderful. So, call them, write to them, see if they want to take a walk with you or chat over a glass of wine (cup of coffee), you get the idea.
Heading in the direction of your joyful future might also require cultivating new relationships as well. If that sounds fun, great! Seek out like-minded people who inspire you, make you laugh and make you think. If the prospect of developing new friendships or a romantic relationship sounds daunting, try taking it slower. Focus on things you love to do and try to find ways be more social in the process. If you love photography or painting, could you take a class or join a club where you will be surrounded with others who feel passionate about these interests, too? Take a baby step toward people who are living the way you want to be living. You might make amazing friends or meet someone special. The probability of making connections is 100% greater than it would be if you just stayed on the couch with your cat (not to say cats aren’t great friends).
If you struggle with organization, you might need to strengthen those skills and get used to literally putting plans on your calendar. Some people are great at this (they make plans well in advance, they don’t forget birthdays, etc). Others of us, not so much…but that’s okay, now is the perfect time to start getting organized, right?!
Okay, so grab your list of favorite people and your calendar and start scheduling time into your calendar for a check in. Literally make an appointment to “Call Katie and see how the job interview went” or “Email Mom about having lunch next week”. If you are the type of person who likes to put a checkmark by a completed task then use this strategy to motivate yourself to keep your relationships at the top your priority list. Remember to treat your dates with friends and family the same way you would treat an important business meeting. If you wouldn’t flake on a business partner, don’t flake on your sister or your best friend either. If you respect and value your relationships, it will show and they will only grow. A strong support system is key to a healthy and happy life.
I know there are a bunch of reason why we can’t (or think we can’t) delegate some of the tasks on our overwhelmingly huge to do list. Whatever the reason why not (not enough money, no one else can handle it, etc.), just for a second let’s entertain the idea of delegating. Let’s just brainstorm a few options without letting the objections get in the way. What are the time consuming tasks that you might be able to hand over (all or in part) to someone else? I immediately think of cleaning house as a big one. I don’t love doing, it takes time away from things I would rather do or time I could be spending with the awesome peeps in my life. I am not at a place (yet) where I can afford a housekeeper, but I have started to give my kids some reasonable chores. It’s a win-win because they are learning responsibility, life skills (including how to earn money) and the work gets done so much faster when I am not the only one doing it!
Another biggie is child care. Everyone needs a break sometimes. If you can hire someone to help with the kids so you can take your partner on a date or hang out with a friend, DO IT! It is money well spent! If you are ok with hiring someone but don’t know who to hire, ask around and find someone you feel comfortable hiring. If you don’t want to hire anyone for whatever reason, think about creating a partnership with a friend where you take turns watching each other’s kids. Or, maybe reach out to a family member and ask them to watch your kids on occasion in exchange for a batch of chocolate chip cookies, perhaps?
Just remember Beautiful, when you are struggling with the “I can’ts” recognize that they might be more like “I won’ts”. Sometimes letting go of the need for control or the feeling of guilty can free up your time and energy so you can focus on the things that matter most.
I know, I know it is such a cliche. But, sometimes things are cliches for a reason…because they are TRUE. The key to prioritizing the people you love is to focus on quality time. So be PRESENT, put away your cell phone and really listen to what your bff is saying, or work on a puzzle with your son…give people your undivided attention. I would rather have a thirty minute uninterrupted coffee date with a good friend than an hour long visit where she checks Facebook and answers text messages every few minute any day. What about you? I am guilty of this too, of course. I have tried to check email while my daughter is drawing a picture and telling me a story, only to look up and see that she has given up on talking to me because my absentminded “yes, aha” and “oh that’s nice” weren’t fooling anyone.
Another myth is to believe that it isn’t worth doing if you don’t have a lot of time. I used to think, “I am not going to call this person back yet because I only have fifteen minutes to talk.” Pretty soon a week had gone by and I hadn’t called because there was never a big enough window of time for the call. JUST CALL. I don’t know about you, but I would rather get a fifteen minute return phone call the same day or the next day than wait a week to hear back from someone because they didn’t have the time for a long chat. Even a text message really is better than nothing. If you can’t find a minute to call, a quick text to say that you are thinking of someone goes a long way. I have even sent people three word emails just to say Hi. I remind myself that a quick hello is better than silence.
A last note about quality time, it is ok to ask those we love what they want to do. It isn’t quality time if people aren’t connecting and enjoying themselves. The other day I asked my 6 yo. son to write a list of things he would like to do with me when we have time. I couldn’t believe some of the things on his list! I live with this kiddo, I gave birth to him, etc. and yet that doesn’t mean I know him inside and out. He is his own little self, with his own ever-changing interests and needs. His list included: having a “cute” staring contest (where each player makes there cutiest puppy dog eyes while simultaneously trying not to blink) and me teaching him Spanish. I was amazed and amused by his idea of fun and I would never have known what he wanted to do if I hadn’t taken a minute to ask.
Thanks for hanging in there for this looong list of ideas. I hope you found a few ideas that will help you juggle life and fit in time with your fave people.
P.S. I have some exciting projects in the works! I might blog a little less over the next few months so I can fit in time for these big ideas, but I haven’t gone anywhere. Big hugs! xo-J