I hope you’ve been enjoying this Summer in September blog series! Today is the last of my six challenges, all of which are designed to keep the relaxed, summer vibe going into fall. Taken together, these challenges will help you feel like you have more time.
For Off the Clock (my most recent book!) I recruited 900 people with full time jobs and families to track their time for a day. I also asked them questions about how they felt about their time. That way, I could compare the schedules of the people who had the most abundant perspective on time with those who felt stressed and rushed.
Some seemingly obvious stuff turned out not to matter as much as it might. The people with the lowest time perception scores didn’t work that much more than average. But I did find this: people’s time perception scores rose in direct correlation to how much time they spent interacting with friends and family.
It turns out that meeting a friend for a drink after work, or going for a walk with your spouse after dinner feels very different from spending an equivalent quantity of time scrolling through Instagram photos of other people’s friends and spouses. One takes more effort than the other (which is why I admit I spend a lot of time scrolling…) But effortful fun turns out to be more memorable than effortless fun.
We do tend to see our families because, well, we live with them. Friends can be incredibly energizing, and can help us get through challenging times. But since we don’t live with them (or work with them, usually) we don’t naturally see them. Getting together becomes really effortful fun, meaning it takes a lot of effort.
But it is still worth it! So, here’s today’s Summer in September challenge: As you’re doing your Friday planning this week, making next week’s priority list (career, relationships, self), make sure the relationship category includes at least one friend get-together. Who would you love to see? Who haven’t you seen in a while?
You can be creative about when the get-together occurs. Drinks after work is certainly fun. Lunch might be an easier possibility. Or breakfast! Meet to go for a walk or run in the morning — weekday or weekend. Try a commute together. Run errands together on the weekend. Have a potluck on Sunday. If none of that is going to work, or your friend lives far away, carve out time to talk on the phone. Ideally, make it a time you can really linger in the conversation.
People are a good use of time. As for time perception? When you make time to get together with friends, you not only enjoy yourself, you become — in your mind — the kind of person who has the time to get together with friends. And that can make you feel like you have all the time in the world.