I'm often having conversations with people about how busy they are. Between work, family and other commitments there just doesn't seem to be enough time to go around. Unfortunately, it's usually your loved ones, family and friends, that get the short end of the stick. Relationships become strained due to lack of time and energy which has already been poured out during the hustle of the 9-5 which is more like the 9-9/10/11/12.... I'm sure it's happened to you before, you think about a friend and wonder how they're doing and tell yourself you'll message or call them later. Two weeks go by and you suddenly remember that you never contacted them. Okay, okay you say to yourself, you won't let another evening go by....and then it's a month, you've still never reached out. You feel like you're a bad friend, frustrated that you don't have time for what's important to you, angry that you don't control your schedule. You wonder if you'll ever be able to live a meaningful life.
Here are some actionable tips to help you find balance and nurture important relationships when you're short on time (and none of them involve social media). And let me just say one thing, it's okay to be busy. Don't feel guilty about it. If you're busy it probably means great things are happening in your life. Maybe you just started a new business or you're in a demanding but fulfilling your career or you just had a baby. Whatever is taking up your time, it means you're not stagnant, things are happening in your life and that is to be celebrated! Good friends will stand by you in the busy times and be happy for all that's going on in your life.
1. Voicenotes- Remember the days in high school where you used to spend hours on the phone with your bff. Well chances are if you're working a full time job, those days are rare or not possible at all. Phone calls allow for great quality time and bonding with a personal touch but they also take up a lot of time that you just might not have. An easy alternative is to send a quick voicenote via Whatsapp. You can control how long or short your voicenote is (I've sent/received voicenotes from 1 second long up to 15 minutes...but be careful with long voicenotes, if you get a call or your alarm goes off it can delete your voicenote which is a very frustrating experience). The recipient gets to hear your voice and connect with you and you get to talk when it's convenient for you. Also, you can listen to voicenotes on your schedule so if you're busy and can't listen for a few days, the voicenotes are there waiting for you and you'll still hear what the other person wanted to tell you, whereas if it was a phone call and you couldn't talk, they'd probably forget the topic after a few days or you might be constantly playing phone tag. Yet another advantage is that you can send/listen to voicenotes while you're driving and depending on how long your commute to work is, this is a great time to catch up with friends.
2. Tea dates- Even if you don't drink tea or coffee, scheduling an hour to catch up over a beverage can be a great way to connect with a friend and show them you care, even if you don't have time for dinner (which tends to go longer) or a night out. I find scheduling an end time to your meeting allows you to have better control of your overall day and time and allows you to have more meaningful conversations instead of idle chit chat and gossip since time is limited. Depending on your schedule you can even arrange a tea date before work or during your lunch break, leaving your evenings for yourself and your other commitments.
3. Texts- When someone has popped into your head that you want to reach out to but don't have time for a conversation you can send a quick text saying "Hey _____. Just wanted to let you know you were on my mind, Hope all is well. Life is super hectic right now but I appreciate you, you mean a lot to me and I'm thinking of you." This can only bring a smile to the recipient's face letting them know you haven't forgotten about them and that they are special to you even if you're really busy at the moment.
4. Mail- We don't get good mail often these days. It's usually bills or flyers, nothing meaningful. One of my closest friends sends me a postcard every once in awhile with a family picture or picture of her kids and it always warms my heart. Once or twice a year (Christmas is the most popular time but it doesn't have to be limited to then), you can hop over to Vistaprint and order some postcards. They can be as simple as "I'm grateful for you" or be elaborate and personalized messages with a custom collage. Whatever it is, the recipient is sure to be touched by this personal note, especially when personal touches are so far and few between these days.
5. Share old times- I have had a LOT of good times with friends. Sometimes the memories I have are of the most insignificant thing but it reminds me of the person and makes me smile. It could be a phrase they used to say or a place we used to go. Or maybe I stumbled upon a picture in a photo album, my computer or online. A simple screenshot of the picture followed by a quick message saying "look what I found" or "remember this" is a simple and easy way to connect with a friend and let them know you care.
6. Me time- Many times we prioritize our relationships with everyone else except the most important person, yourself. If you don't nurture yourself, you'll eventually become burnt out and won't be able to give as much to others. Take time to do simple things like read, exercise, go for a walk, watch tv, listen to music, paint etc...things that you can do on your own where you can focus on you. Nurturing yourself will naturally overflow and help you in nurturing your relationships with others.
Tell me in the comments, what are some ways you stay connected to loved ones during busy times?
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