There's nothing worse than getting that, "when will I get to see you, stranger?" text from your best friend, especially when you're knee deep in the middle of a crazy work month. But there are ways you can make time for your friends when your schedule is busy that requires little to no sacrifice on your end. While the idea of working long shifts and then hopping over to happy hour to mingle might seem harrowing (there's only so much energy one person can have!) there are more ways to reconnect with your pals than meeting over martinis.
The bottom line is that friends are understanding. No one is going to fault you for kicking butt in your career, but when something is important to you, you make time. Whether that means sending random texts while waiting for the train or physically penciling them in for lunch every Wednesday, if there's a will you'll find a way. So step over the excuse of "I'm just so busy" and carve out some work-life balance for yourself. Below are 11 ways to make time for your friends when you're busy — go on and give yourself permission to reconnect and have fun!
1. Focus On Big Hangouts Rather Than Small Ones
It might seem bananas, but focusing on big shindigs will actually be easier than stressing out over little coffee dates. "Paradoxically, big get-togethers can be easier to prioritize than smaller ones," Laura Vanderkam, an business writer at entrepreneur site Fast Company, confirmed. Think about it: When you have a big meet up with friends at a fancy new restaurant, it becomes a priority. At the very least, its harder to blow off than a Netflix hang in someone's living room.
2. Send Them Random Notes Of Kindness
Friends don't fault you for slaying in your career — it just hurts if you forget them entirely. In order to curb that, send them sweet texts during down time to show them you're still connected and that you miss them. "I love just sending random little notes like 'Thinking of you' while I wait for someone or on the train etc — it literally takes 10 seconds and it means the world," Ané Auret, Dating and Relationship Coach, shares in an email interview with Bustle. The next time you're waiting for your laptop to boot, send out a quick text to your bestie.
3. Do Work Tasks Together
Bringing work home with you again? Invite your pal over and have a "productivity evening" together. "Going through your inbox with friends can be a creative way to make something painful actually fun. Read ridiculous subject lines and reminisce about your past, all while in the company of your BFFs," lifestyle writer Emily Mitchell at lifestyle site Verily Mag suggested. Just because you're working doesn't mean you have to shut them out.
4. Create A Recurring Hang Out
Trying to remeber those random happy hours with your friends can be stressful when your schedule is jam packed — but if you have a standing coffee date every Friday at three o'clock, that becomes part of your normal week. "One-off events take a lot of effort to plan. Recurring ones don’t," Vanderkam pointed out. So setup a date that will show up in both of your calendars week after week, and you'll have guaranteed quality time.
5. Invite Them Along To The Gym
Whether you go to a weekly yoga class or break a sweat on an elliptical, see if your friend wants to tag along to kill two birds with one stone. "Arrange for a friend to meet you at the track, trail, gym, or yoga studio, and check that exercise box together," Mitchell recommended. It'll make that hour more fun!
6. Invest In An Outing Ahead Of Time
It's hard to bail on an evening out if you've already paid for it, so when you make concrete plans with a pal buy what you need to ahead of time. "To make yourself more likely to go out and do something with a friend, take advantage of a Groupon or Living Social deal, or other prepaid offer. It’s harder to postpone a get-together or cancel plans when you’ve already spent the money," lifestyle writer Kate Antoniades of lifestyle site Corporette offered. Other things you can do is buy movie tickets the night before, or specifically agree to meet at a comedy show or concert so you're held accountable.
7. Go Right After Work
It might be hard to convince yourself to step out for drinks after a long day at work when you're already at home in your sweats, so to curb that reaction go out straight after work. "An object in motion stays in motion, so if you’re trying to squeeze in socializing on a Friday after a busy workweek, make sure not to stop at home first before going out (if possible)," Antoniades advised. Don't give yourself the excuse.
8. Cook Your Meals Together
If you're crazy busy, cooking for the week is a great help when it comes to your lunches and dinners. Invite your friends over for the activity and make a whole evening out of it. "Plan a cooking night together to catch up and create a delicious meal that will last you throughout the week," Mitchell offered. Not only will you get to chat for a couple of hours, but you can swap recipes.
9. Leave Yourself Reminders To Check In
If you're one to get swamped with your to-dos, make calling your friends another task on the list in order to not forget them completely. "Set calendar reminders to check in with your friends," Nicole Smartt, Vice President and co-owner of Star Staffing and contributor to Forbes, advised. When you see "call Stacey" on your check list, you'll be hard-pressed to skip over it.
10. Hustle With Your Weekend Tasks
Rather than leaving all your laundry, inbox cleaning, and cleaning for the weekend, hustle to get them finished during pockets of free time during the work week so you can have time for your friends. "Try to get more chores done on weeknights — laundry, bill paying, grocery shopping, etc. — so that you can feel better about socializing on a weekend day," Antoniades suggested. If you can make the time, why not take advantage of it?
11. Get A Little Choosey
If your schedule is packed to the gills, you don't really have the time to hang out with everyone and anyone who asks. Don't be afraid to turn away some people in order to make room for those that really matter to you. "Friendships should energize you, so when time is tight, it's best to invest your time and energy in the relationships you know already enrich your life," Vanderkam recommended. So while it might be nice to grab pizza with that one acquaintance, your best friend from college would much rather appreciate the carved out time.
While everyone can appreciate a busy work week, it's still totally doable to make time for your nearest and dearest!