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4 Ways To Spend Quality Time With Your Friends

4 Ways To Spend Quality Time With Your Friends

As we grow up, our world changes. We become too busy to allocate time for our friends as our responsibilities begin to pile up. Our best friends become our distant friends and our distant friends become a faint memory. Life moves on while our memories of our friends begin to fade away.

Reminiscing becomes painful. However, there’s a way to avoid the pain in this scenario. Quality time with your mates will keep your friendships as solid as the Sex and The City foursome. A once-in-a blue-moon gathering could put a wide smile on everyone’s faces.

Make time for a day where responsibilities are less relevant than friendship. Have some group fun and maintain your friendships throughout the years. Here are a few ways to spend some quality time with your friends group.

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1. Catch up on your favourite TV series together

This is one of the activities my friends and I use to stick together through our busy lives. Initially, this practice started with Sex and the City episodes. We used to gather with hot chocolate (these days we prefer wine), and watch the latest episode together. We would indulge in our weekly gossip and chat together about everything that happened since we were last together.

These days, as we’ve all started travelling and moving to different countries, we keep our dates on Skype. Game of Thrones is our new Sex and the City. We pick a time and avoid spoilers so that we can watch that one-hour episode together. It brings us back to our childhood and has kept our friendships going strong until this very day.

2. Plan vacations together

No matter if your best friends were people you met in college, at work, or during your school days, keeping each other updated keeps the friendship growing. This is what keeps your bonds strong over time. However, it can be tough to maintain these updates when you get caught up in daily life.

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The next time you’re looking forward to a break, planning a trip with your old friends will give you the chance to bond and give you a well-deserved break. The best way is to plan a trip in nature or to a country that you’ve never visited. You will have an adventure together and an amazing story to remember.

3. Remember birthdays  

Have you been in the situation where you forget the most important days, most of them usually being birthdays? Some of us would be lost without our Facebook reminders. For many, birthdays are full of expectations. Simple wishes and calls can brings tears to one’s eyes.

Therefore, take up the habit of writing or programming birthdays in your calendar. Note the dates of the birthdays as well as keep track of them through your mobile phone or Google calendars. This will help you make surprise calls or even small surprise gestures during friends’ birthdays. This will prove to them that they are very important in your life.

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4. Play sports together

A healthy body equals a healthy mind. Therefore, as we age, we must focus on our health. Workouts become an important part of our lives and keeping fit becomes a routine instead of an obligation. Why not include your friends? Playing sports with your friends could prove to be a great way to communicate and bond with them. In many ways, it can also boost your competitive spirit, motivating you to work harder and better.

Friendly competition is always the best way to keep your friends together. These activities could be either a game of golf or a 2-hour workout session in the gym. For some, it could be a nice relaxing day of yoga or dancing. It eventually becomes a weekly moment you look forward to and a chance to catch up and unwind while doing something productive.

If this list triggers you to pick up your phone or write an email to a long-lost friend, then don’t hesitate. You never know — yours might be the voice they need to hear today. It could be the start of something new and amazing.

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Featured photo credit: Ian Schneider via unsplash.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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