Are You Too Busy for Friendship?
Make an Appointment
A well-managed workday includes appointments -- time that you schedule to focus on people who are important to you. Without appointments, getting together would be hit or miss, and you could lose valuable opportunities. Why not apply that same time-management practice to your friendships? Make weekly or monthly appointments to see your special friends -- whether you meet for lunch, a walk, or just a cup of coffee. Your friends are important; they deserve a place in your calendar.
If you want to spend more time with your friends, don't wait for them to call you. Take responsibility for the relationship and ask for what you want. Good friendships may be well-balanced over the life of the relationship, but short-term they're rarely 50-50. Make the effort to schedule dates with your friends and to let them know how much you value spending time with them. You may be surprised at how quickly they turn the tables and start calling you.
Keep it Casual
Remember when you were a kid, and you dropped in on friends just because you felt like it? As adults, we often wait for a special occasion to see our friends -- birthdays, holidays or dinner parties -- and we miss sharing the small, spontaneous moments that make friendships stronger. If you feel like spending time with a friend, that's reason enough to make it happen.
You Were Going to Do It Anyway
Think of all the time you spend on errands or routine chores -- time that you'd rather spend with your friends. Try combining those activities. Many of the errands we run alone, perhaps thinking that no one else would want to go, are much more fun when shared with a friend. And let's face it, everyone buys shoes, get haircuts, and shops for groceries. Ask a friend to share some chore you both have to do, anyway, and you could end up making an ordinary or boring task a lot more fun.
Schedule a Spa Date
For many women, and a growing number of men, weekly appointments for manicures and pedicures are a regular part of their grooming routine. Think about how much more fun your weekly salon appointment would be if your BFF was there too. You can talk about current events, the books you love and the merits of the French manicure -- or just gossip about absent friends.
Start a Group
Chances are you and your friends like many of the same things. That's probably one of the reasons you became friends. One way to spend more time with your like-minded friends is to start a group based on your common interests, whether that turns out to be mystery novels, watercolor painting, knitting or woodworking. If you don't have enough friends with the same interests to start your own group, maybe you and one or two friends can join an existing group and meet new people who share your passion.
Do you ever have days when you know you should work out but the inspiration just isn't there? Of course you do. Enter your friend and exercise buddy. When your energy wanes, he keeps you on track. When she just can't face another aerobics class, you supply the encouragement she needs to keep going. Setting goals and helping each other achieve them is a great way to deepen your friendship. And besides, workouts are simply more fun with a friend.
Meet for Breakfast
You already know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? Well, now you can make it the most meaningful, too. Invite a different friend to meet you for breakfast one morning each week. In the hour or two before your workday begins you're less likely to be interrupted or distracted, and sharing a meal with a friend is a great way to start the day.
Go Out and Play
Kids play together the same way they breathe: naturally and without much conscious thought. Somehow, we lose that as we mature. Invite a friend to play a game of tennis, shoot hoops, ride bikes, toss the Frisbee around, or take part in whatever fun activity captures your imagination. It's never too late to rediscover the joy of playing with your friends.
Take a Class
Imagine yourself learning to speak Italian, play guitar or make a perfect soufflé. Now think about how much more fun that would be if you were doing it with a friend. You can be each other's coach, supporter and study partner, and you'll create new memories to share.
Larry West, a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest, is fortunate in the friends who share his life.