Weekly relationship priorities

img_2551In my TED talk (almost to 2 million views!), I suggest people make priority lists for the next week on Friday afternoons. I also suggest making this a 3-category list: career, relationships, self. Career is self explanatory. Most people have no problem figuring out what needs to get done at work next week. The "relationships" and "self" categories can be a bit more challenging, which is the point. Creating priorities in these categories forces a certain mindfulness in one's personal life. Putting a stake in the ground that something is important -- that these categories deserve to have something important -- increases the chances that such things happen. And that right there creates more work/life balance.

So that's the reasoning. But what, exactly, makes a good relationship priority? Last week I knew my mother was visiting overnight on Monday, so spending time with her was one. I also wound up getting together with a friend from college for coffee while I was in NYC. This week, I am chaperoning my daughter's school field trip, and planning a Valentine's Day/anniversary of meeting outing with my husband on Friday.

That doesn't mean those are all the things I'm doing with people this week. I'm also bringing my older boys to their annual pediatrician visit, though I don't really count that in the priority category (even though it is important!) I sort of view this as something that has to happen. It falls in the normal childcare category. Planning priorities is often about thinking through stuff that you'd like to have happen, but is more optional.

What "relationship priorities" have you scheduled into your life?

In other news: I finished The Little Book of Hygge last night (it was indeed little!) More to come on that later this week.

Camille Pagán, a longtime friend of this blog, has a new novel out today called Forever is the Worst Long Time. You can read her story of writing five novels between her first published one (The Art of Forgetting) and her second published one (Life and Other Near Death Experiences) here.

Photo: More from the weekend trip to Longwood Gardens

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14 Responses to Weekly relationship priorities


  1. jennie says:

    I have a “social” column in my planner that I try to fill each month. I am an introvert by nature and if I don’t prioritize it–it won’t happen. My husband is an extrovert and to satisfy us both, we socialize a lot, but because I plan it, I don’t get overwhelmed. My monthly goals are usually: host a potluck (this is more “crappy dinner party” than anything large scale), couple date, girl’s night, breakfast with mom and grandma, one on one each kid, 2-date nights. Usually I can get all of this in, plus a little more. My kids’ social calendars have begun to fill up and I find it a little harder to get around, but we have created a system for that as well just to manage the chaos of extra kids floating in and out of the house.

    • @jennie- that sounds like a good list of priorities. The kids’ social calendars are their own beast!

  2. Byrd says:

    My husband works from home and I have only a 12-minute commute. I’ve been prioritizing going home for lunch on Tuesdays so we can have a quiet lunch together while baby girl is in daycare. It’s been a weirdly difficult adjustment to make (leaving office during the day is not culturally ‘done’) but I’ve also started looking forward to it! Definitely worthwhile.

    • ARC says:

      This sounds like our situation too! Usually on Fridays we have a lunch “date” at a nearby pub while the kids are at school. It makes our babysitter difficulties more bearable (it has been very difficult for us to keep babysitters as they keep graduating and moving away!)

    • @Byrd- that sounds awesome – and a great way to squeeze in time together. I’ve never really understood the concept of a culture that No One Leaves. Maybe if you worked in a fortress or something…

      • ARC says:

        @Laura – a friend of mine works at a small company in Copenhagen and I got the impression that No One Leaves there either – they order in lunch and all sit down together, and everyone leaves by 4:30, so maybe it’s in the interest of efficiency and also because you’re supposed to socialize with your coworkers at lunch?

        • @ARC – if everyone’s out by 4:30, then I’m all in favor of staying there. But people do need some sort of break – a sit down lunch with colleagues will do that. Desk salads, not so much.

          • Cb says:

            I did some fieldwork in Belgium and everyone arrived at 9, took a lunch break where they went to the canteen together, and left promptly at 5. Staying later than that / working at the weekend would have been really unusual. Coming from a UK academic context, I was thoroughly confused.

  3. Maureen says:

    My husband and I met at work, and we used to have monthly lunches together where we even went to a photo booth for pictures over coffee.

    We haven’t done pictures in a few years (the photo booths became scarce), but we have reinitiated the monthly lunch date. It’s still a challenge to schedule. I work part-time and am in the same office building only once a week, but it felt good to get it back on the books again.

    • ARC says:

      ohhh, i LOVE the photobook idea. My husband worked at a company that had one for a while in the cafeteria and it was super fun. 🙂

  4. I have as monthly relationship priorities: 1 date with my husband, and separate dates with each twin.

    In addition, I usually have about 4 – 6 friend dates a month.

  5. Anne M says:

    Re: Your Ted talk. I run the monthly staff meetings at my firm and try to incorporate a Ted talk now and then for inspiration. Last month I showed yours and the room was dead silent afterwards. As a public accounting firm about to enter into busy season I think it may have shocked everyone to think they do actually have enough time. I did get some positive feedback later in the day so that was cool.

    • @Anne M – thank you for showing the talk! Yeah, busy season accountants might be a tough audience, though I do still think there is *some* time. And then there will be more in July. All about keeping the long term view.

  6. I love the idea Laura. I think that it is a good way to enrich your relationships and keep track. After all, we can get lost in all the things we need to do. I will try this.

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