Time is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to building and maintaining deep friendships as an adult. A recent study showed that it takes 120 hours spent with a friend before you reach what most would consider a close friendship. But if spending time with a friend is so important for growing relationships, how do you find that time amid work, soccer practices, and family life? How to do you find time when you feel like you have no time for friends?
How? You create it.
If you want to make friendships a priority, you have to make the time. And lucky for you, this post is all about how. Read on for 10 tips that will help you find and make time for your friends.
Table of Contents
1. Fit in your rocks.
Have you ever seen that old illustration with the jar and the sand? First, you take a jar full of sand, and you try to fit a handful of stones into the sand. But you can't because the jar is already full. But then, you take another same-sized jar and put the rocks in first. And then pour the sand in over them, and it works. You can fit both the sand AND the rocks in because you put the rocks in first.
It's a great illustration for time. Spending time with friends (the "rocks") will never just "fit" into your busy life because your life is already filled with activities and commitments (the "sand"). BUT if you schedule in the "rocks" first, then all of the activities and commitments can then fill up the rest of your time.
If friendships are important to you, you have to make your friends a priority by scheduling in time with them and letting other activities fill in around that time.
2. Make friendship goals.
For the last couple of years, thanks to Lara Casey and her Power Sheets (I'm not an affiliate -- just a HUGE fan), I've been making friendship goals for the year. Making a friendship goal might sound weird, but if you set personal or business goals, why not friendship goals?
A friendship goal can be something as simple as "I'm going to get together with one friend for lunch this week" or "I'm going to invite a group over for a game night once a month".
For this year, I made goals both for inviting people over and for growing my friendships, and I made sure to write them down. When you write your goals down, you're more likely to follow through on them.
3. Put it on the To-Do list.
This one goes along with friendship goals. If you're a list maker, you're going to love this tip. When I asked on Facebook for ways that people make time for friends, my friend, Kim, says she puts it on her daily to-do list. That way, she actually gets to cross fun things off her list. Your friendship to-do list tasks are basically action steps to make your friendship goals happen.
Here are some ideas of "friendship tasks" you can put on your daily to-do list:
- call Kim
- text Sarah
- Invite Stacy and her kids for an after-school snack date.
- Lunch date with Carolyn
- Send a Marco Polo to Jill
(Insert your own friend's names -- ha!) It might feel weird at first, but putting your friends on your to-do list helps you follow through on those good intentions.
4. Keep it simple.
My friend, Jennifer, says she finds time for friends by making getting together easy. "Meet at carpool 10 minutes early to catch up," she says. "Or bring a lunch and eat in the car together. Set a 'bedtime date' for Starbucks, a phone call, or dessert. Look at both schedules and find times you can easily intersect in a meaningful way that doesn’t stress either of you out."
I like this idea because it doesn't put pressure on either of you and capitalizes on both convenience and intentionality.
5. Plan a regular time to get together.
Sometimes the best way to make time for a friend is to have a standing date. Maybe every Tuesday you eat lunch together. Or every other Friday you meet at the park for a playdate. When you know you have a standing date on Friday mornings, it's a lot easier to say no to other things and to remember that you have something planned.
Having a standing date also communicates the importance of your friendship. You're saying to each other, "Your friendship is so important to me that I want to carve out this regular time to hang out with you." How special is that?
6. Find ways to include people in your everyday activities.
- Go grocery shopping together (Costco or Sam's is fun because you can eat lunch at the food court, too)
- Work out together
- Take turns helping each other clean your houses
- Tackle a much-needed home project like painting or reorganizing a closet
- Make freezer meals together
See my post, 28 Things to Do with a Mom Friend, for more ideas!
7. Say no more often.
Don't worry -- I'm not talking about saying no to your friends. I'm talking about saying no to commitments or activities that crowd your friends right off your calendar.
Sometimes you have to say no to good things to say yes to even better things. If you want to make time for friendship, you have to open up some margin in your life. That may mean limiting your kids' sports activities or the amount of volunteering you do.
When it comes to volunteering, Jill Savage, founder of Hearts at Home, suggests only committing to one major and one minor activity at any one time. A major would be serving as PTA president or leading a moms' group or Bible study. It's something that takes major brain space and time. A minor would be something like making brownies for the school staff luncheon or signing up for snacks after your kid's soccer game.
Once you know what you're committed to, you can easily say, "no" the next time someone asks you to help out with something.
8. Use technology to your advantage.
My friend, Jill, introduced me to the app, Marco Polo, where you send videos back and forth. Because she lives far away, it's been the easiest way for us to feel like we're talking without having to coordinate our schedules for a phone call. She often sends me videos while she's waiting in her car for kids to finish an activity or when she gets a spare minute at home. Then, when I get a free minute, I send one back.
Here are some ways to use technology for keeping in touch with your friends:
- Voxer -- send voice messages back and forth
- Marco Polo -- send videos back and forth
- Texting -- send a friend a text letting her know you're thinking about her
- Social Media -- Facebook is one of my favorite ways to keep up with my friends, but Instagram, Snapchat, and any others that I'm too old to know about are also great ways to see what's going on in your friends' lives. You can also reach out through private messaging to leave more personal messages.
- Facetime -- why not set up a FaceTime date with a friend after your kids go down for bed one night a week? Each of you can get a coffee or a yummy snack and catch up.
- Phone -- go old school and call someone
(If I've missed a great app for keeping in touch with friends, let me know in the comments!)
9. Pick one day as your friend day
You could do it the way she does it or you could do something a little crazy like another friend of mine did one summer and announce on your social media that every Thursday night, you're going to be at the park with your family and anyone can bring a picnic meal and join you.
No matter what you do, choosing a Friend Day and not scheduling anything else on that day creates time in your calendar for friendship.
10. Schedule it on the spot.
You know how you keep saying, "We should get together sometime!" or "This was fun -- let's do it again!"? It's easy to forget about those good intentions you had the last time you ran into your friend.
But what if next time, instead of just saying it, you take out your calendars and actually schedule it? What if you were the one to initiate and say, "Tell me some dates and let's schedule it in right now!" It might feel scary, but it will feel so good to leave that conversation knowing that you both value spending time together enough that you planned for another time together.
Finding time when you feel like you have no time for friends
Finding time to invest in friendships can be challenging, but I hope that one of these tips resonated with you. You don't have to do them all -- just pick one to try.
And if you do make spending time with a friend a priority, I can guarantee that you'll find it time well-spent. I can't wait to hear all about it.
Which of these ideas are you going to try? Tell me in the comments below!
If you liked this post, you may also like Building Friendships with Dinner Guests and How My Family Made Friends By Inviting People Over!