Do you ever feel so busy that you hardly have time to nurture the relationships that matter the most to you? Irregular working hours, an “always on” mentality, and technology’s growing presence in our lives have made it seem harder to make time for the people who make us feel most connected. Plus, scheduling far-off plans can often become a source of anxiety when we simply don’t know what the next week will bring. But when we do find a way to pull them off, we experience some of the greatest joy.
We asked members of the Thrive community to share the ways they make time for the people who matter most to them. Their methods for staying in touch and keeping their connections at the top of their priority lists will push you to do the same.
Go out of your way
“I am so grateful for the unbreakable bond I have shared with my high school friends for nearly 20 years. We always find a way back to each other. We have group messages where we plan our next get-together, or just check in on each other. Recently, I flew back to my home state and met up with three of them. They rearranged their plans, stayed out late on a work night, and drove out of their way — all just to see me. It takes effort to see each other, but it’s worth the reward of having people in your life who know all the worst things about you, and still love and support you anyway.”
—Lindsay Patton, social media supervisor, Philadelphia, PA
“We cannot allow ourselves to make the excuse that we are too busy. Friends and family are too important to our souls. I can be a bit dogged when I want something — I’m a recruiter, after all — so I tend to poke until I get a response. I can be sulky when those being poked don’t try as hard, and will shelve things for a bit, but eventually, we all come around and have a great time when we get together.”
—Amy Toncray, recruiting and human resources manager, Royal Oak, MI
Expand your circle
“My father always used to tell me that life is made of human relationships — take care of them because when you look back, you’ll see their faces, feel those moments, and everything will make sense. I’ve always had a very busy life. My job requires me to travel, and having lived several years abroad, I’ve had to leave behind many amazing friends with whom I keep in touch regularly. I always put them at the top of my priorities. This means scheduling my day with my friends and family in mind. My friends are my fuel, my family, and my everything. Without my friends, I would have never become the person I am today. The same applies for my fiancé; we’ve lived together for four years now, and we share our friends and family with each other. Sharing is everything; closing up your circle will only limit your perspective on life.”
—Alessandra Riccardi, ballet and yoga instructor, Rome, Italy
Find a simple activity that brings everyone joy
“I am in a few running groups, and I will message my friends to make sure we meet — not only to run but also to catch up. We’ve solved many of our greatest challenges during runs.”
—Kristin Meekhof, author and life coach, Detroit, MI
Make it purposeful
“As a freelance writer, people think I have all the time in the world, but that’s not the case at all. Yes, my time is flexible, but spending quality time with my daughter takes effort. And with her being in twelfth grade and having to get her homework done, it’s not always easy. My trick is quality over quantity. When we spend purposeful time together, I make sure there’s a new experience we can talk about. Even if we go see a movie or try a new restaurant, we’ll talk about it the entire way back home. It’s tough to get teenagers to say more than two words at a time, but every time we do this, our conversation lasts at least an hour.”
—Kern Carter, author and ghostwriter, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Have a back-up plan
“I have standing commitments with the people who matter most to me. For one, it’s a weekly Bible study, for another it’s a monthly walk, and for another it’s a monthly call due to distance. Having it scheduled regularly means even if we cancel, the next one is already in place so we don’t have to stress about too much time going by without seeing or speaking to one another.”
—Shell Vera, voice discovery coach and writer, Groton, CT
Share family meals with friends
“Having two young kids and friends who are single or in a more flexible stage of life makes staying connected a little tricky. Our solution is to simply invite them to join our family dinners. Inviting friends into our regular routine allows us quality time with no extra planning. It can be last-minute, and is a low pressure commitment for our friends because we are not doing any special preparation. We just set out an extra plate and they show up. We all feed our bodies and souls.”
—Angela Kelley, event curation, Austin, TX
Find what works
“I have a weekly call with my parents, normally on Sunday afternoons because I know they will be home. More often than not, we Skype so we can actually see each other. My sister and I text and speak regularly, and she’ll reach out to me if she needs extra support. We recently discovered that our hometown is a mid-way meeting point between the two of us, and it has become the perfect excuse to get away and spend time together. I also exchange postcards with my grandma. As I’ve gotten older, I care more about keeping in touch and seeing friends. I think we’ve all become more aware of mortality, and want to make sure we make the most of our time together.”
—Rachel Teare, marketing director, Oxford, UK
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