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Keeping Friendships for Life and Beyond

Keeping Friendships for Life and Beyond

Your first friend

It was the freckled girl in pigtails who spent hours hearing about your true love without once telling you that you are talking baloney (yes you were and you know it). Endless lunch hours spent giggling because your crush looked in your direction (the fact that he was just looking for his lost pencil was not discussed); endless notes passed in class discussing his dimples, endless phone calls abusing that ‘other girl’. Ms. Pigtails was your first friend. When that crush went away with that other girl, Ms. Pigtails stayed with you.

Then, of course, there was that dorky friend, jokes so bad they made you want to cry but got you through your difficult high school years. You still remember a few of those horrible jokes and giggle, don’t you? First friend number two.

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Along the years we all have had those friends. The ones who stalk your crushes with more enthusiasm than you, roll their eyes at the exact same time you do, treat your gossip with the same seriousness that Obama brings to world affairs, turn violently abusive towards people just because you mildly dislike them and shower you with unsolicited advice to the point that you want to scream.

Along the way, we lose a few of those friends. In those moments, we miss them, we blame life and circumstances, or just tell ourselves that this is the natural way of life.

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Well, I’ve also lost a lot of friends, but I’ve found a few lasting friendships too. Here are some lessons learnt on keeping ‘your person’ –  the sugar to your cake, the fizz to your Cola.

1. Accept things, friendships change, it’s not the end

It’s easy to be two peas in a pod when you are in the same university, studying the same courses. Not so much when you get a job, get married, have kids. That’s OK. He will not always be available to go drinking with you like college days. She will not always treat your boyfriend problems as the number one priority in her life. Yes, that’s upsetting. It’s even more upsetting when you feel like they have moved on. Got married, while you remain a bachelor. Changed jobs while you remain in the same one. It’s upsetting because not only do you struggle with the fact that you have drifted apart, you also get jealous of the things they have and you don’t. How do you tell your friend that you need their attention because you are an insecure child inside? That you are also jealous of them? Well, SAY IT. Pick up the phone and tell them you miss them and want to meet!

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2. Stay a little possessive

Sounds very contradictory, doesn’t it? Yes OK, we are adults; you can’t just go fight with her because she went shopping with some other friend. But what if for once you did? What if sometimes you just act like a freckled pig-tailed pigheaded little child who demands time. Who calls for an emergency drinking session because the boss has been particularly nasty that day. Who wants undivided attention while lamenting on a haircut gone wrong. Who refuses to share that friend for a few hours – no family, no work, no nothing! Immaturity and possessiveness don’t always kill a relationship; sometimes, in little quantities, they just make it warmer, sweeter, snugglier (Yes, I know that’s not a word!).

Your demanding to be priority number one for an evening won’t turn the world upside down. So do it, demand a little time for just the two of you and let your friend try to suppress their exasperated chuckles while clearing their schedule to accommodate you.

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3. Have a common ground

It may have been years since you connected over a shared passion – hatred for the same teacher, love for the same girl, lack of comprehension of the same subject. As you go on your different life paths, let something hold you together. It could be a common hobby – music, travel, dance, yoga. And, if you are like me, it would probably be something inane and stupid – love for chocolate fudge, hate for Ms. Perfect with the perfect Facebook pictures. It doesn’t really matter; what matters is to keep it alive. So take out time to spend a few hours connecting on shared passions in your adult life. Meet on the day you are ‘officially’ on a break from dieting (as opposed to unofficially, which is every day) and make obscene sounds of ecstasy over that shared ice cream sundae. After all, no one really understands an ice cream sundae the way our ‘also on a diet’ friends do.

4. Don’t get caught up in ‘the plan’

You know, the plan to meet at that chic club has been in the making for three months. Trust me; it may just be easier to make a baby than follow through on that  ‘plan’. It’s not college anymore where no one has a life so everyone shows up. Real life is cluttered with a million things to do, so don’t clutter it up further with elaborate plans. Just catch up. At that little shoe-box café right outside work, at each other’s untidy homes where kids are wailing, or at that particularly dull park with the ghostly tree. Just meet wherever you can to talk and laugh. Every friendship reaches a point where sometimes the best thing to do is to just be together.

So that’s my unsolicited advice. I hope I’m able to follow it as well. I can just about imagine myself sitting next to my friends when I’m 80 badmouthing our Facebook connections. Now that would have been a life well-lived!

With that, I sign off. And dial that number already!

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Last Updated on April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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