People management
July 2, 2008 10:57 AM   Subscribe

People Management: How to make time for people? Family-members, friends and others.

For the last year or so I have had a regular work-schedule (9-5 barely any over-time). I work out 5 times a week (majority of time during lunch and during the weekends I wake up and run) and I am also a singer/song-writer. When i get home I try to socialize a little (through myspace in order to promote my music), write a little and sing a little. I also live alone, cook for myself, try to clean everyday and like to have at least half an hour to read something and try to relax without doing anything. To me this sounds fairly simple enough but I am constantly being told by other people (family members, people I am dating, etc) that I never make time for them, specifically time to talk on the phone with them. I have to admit I am horrible at making time to talk on the phone with people, girlfriends have always complained about it (if I am with them during the weekend everything is gravy otherwise they are lucky to hear from me during the week, if they do call me however I try my best to talk to them), my mother constantly berates me for it (though I visit her house at least twice a month). I used to work in an investment bank and due to my long working hours i used to have an excuse for it, but now that I am working less hours I still keep the same behavior. I feel that both my music and physical fitness are very important areas of my life, and the other administrative things such as cooking and cleaning are also necessary. I only watch about 2 hours of tv per week...yet with commuting time (i live in NYC) I feel that by the time I am done with everything during my day is already 11pm and almost time to go to sleep....Can you give me any tips to fit people into my life? Am I the only one that feels that the day does not have enough hours?...To me this shouldnt be a big issue...but apparently for everybody else involved in my life it happens to be.
posted by The1andonly to Human Relations (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm having trouble understanding your question. Do you want to make yourself more available? Or are you just whinning about how you're so perfect and everything you do clicks together seamlessly expect for those pesky little demanding family members, friends and more?

If I had a boyfriend who never called during the week, but expected everything to be "gravy" during the weekend, we'd be over in, like, a weekend (and I don't consider myself to be high-maintenace at all).

And no, you are not the only one who feels the day doesn't have enough hours. At all.
posted by neblina_matinal at 11:27 AM on July 2, 2008

Can you try setting aside a designated time each week to call loved ones? For example, I always try to call my mom once a week, usually on Sunday afternoons. I picked Sunday afternoons because I know I'll likely have some free time then, and I know she's likely to be home.

Alternately, if it's talking on the phone that you don't like, try to schedule a standing date with the people who want to spend time with you. Like, meet your girlfriend every Wednesday morning for coffee, or take your mom to lunch every Saturday.

I feel that both my music and physical fitness are very important areas of my life...

More important than your family and/or girlfriend? Because that is the message they get when you would rather do those things than call or visit them. They are trying to tell you that they feel like you don't value them and their relationship with you. For as busy as we all are these days, there has to be a few minutes each week you can pick up the phone or make a visit to show them you care. It's just a matter of making the effort.
posted by geeky at 11:34 AM on July 2, 2008

get a headset, and talk to people while you make dinner and clean your apartment. Problem solved!
posted by moxiedoll at 11:36 AM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm having trouble understanding your question. Do you want to make yourself more available? Or are you just whinning about how you're so perfect and everything you do clicks together seamlessly expect for those pesky little demanding family members, friends and more?

Not whining....I would love to be more available and wonder how other people do it......for example somebody said designating a certain amount of time during the day for that....somehow that never went through my head before.....
posted by The1andonly at 11:38 AM on July 2, 2008

Well, if you really are that clueless, I'll tell you this: I had this one boyfriend who told me he had computer/phone/post-it reminders for everything, otherwise he'd forget (and I believe he would). Stuff like "Sunday, 4pm, call Mom", or "call girlfriend" or "go to bed" (I'm not kidding). I always thought that was weird, and I could never live with that degree of planning myself, but I suppose it can work for some people.
posted by neblina_matinal at 11:42 AM on July 2, 2008

This is what instant message, e-mail, and Facebook is for- keeping tabs on everyone and being able to keep in touch with people in an easy way. I'm not big on talking on the phone, but I still manage to keep in touch with everybody.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:44 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Lighten-up on the regimented lifestyle.
Skip the cooking and cleaning once in awhile. Instead, call someone up and see if they want to meet you to grab a bite somewhere. Or throw a party.

You don't compartmentalize friends and family. You allow them to break the regimen.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:47 AM on July 2, 2008

I agree with geeky above. I have a similar but not as bad problem in that I don't really like talking on the phone, and tend to lose touch with people that I don't see in person regularly. I don't like talking on the phone very much and I'm easily distracted by other things that seem more important at the time.

I, too, have a standing phone call appointment with my Mom on late Sunday afternoons. Once a week, for a half hour to an hour (sometimes it's only 10 or 15 minutes), I call my Mom and catch up with her and check in. You could try something like that. Sometimes I start cooking dinner while I'm on the line with her.

You mention your commute. I wonder if this is lost time for you, and if this is actually time that you could spend on the phone catching up with folks? Can you put in a quick "wanted to check in with you and see how you're doing" call with your girlfriend on the walk into or out of your office building? It might be a small thing that doesn't mean much to you, but could mean alot to your girlfriend. There may be some room for such calls during your cooking and cleaning time, too, but be careful not to be distracted.

It's not much for your girlfriend to ask to hear from you more than on the weekends when she fits handily into your schedule, or for your mom to want to hear from you more than twice a month. I hope you are able to reach a happy medium. Good luck.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:50 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

(or what moxiedoll said while I was composing my novel above.)
posted by onlyconnect at 11:56 AM on July 2, 2008

"...girlfriends have always complained about it (if I am with them during the weekend everything is gravy otherwise they are lucky to hear from me during the week, if they do call me however I try my best to talk to them), my mother constantly berates me for it (though I visit her house at least twice a month)..."

I noticed your use of the words 'complain' and 'berate'.

I don't know anything whatsoever about your girlfriends or your mother, and I may very well be completely off the mark in what I'm about to say.

To wax analytical, there are many ways to describe a communication effort. For example, you could have said your mother misses hearing from you or your girlfriends would like to spend more time with you.

I wonder if perhaps you could be (maybe even unconsciously) avoiding them because they aren't the most fun to be around. I mean, if someone is - and I'm not saying your mother or exes are - particularly unforgiving or critical, I can understand not making the time to call them.
posted by doriangray at 12:33 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wow, I really don't get all the hostility here. There have been many askme posts on how to keep up with friends, but I guess something about this OP's tone ruffled some feathers.

If you want to keep these people happy, you're just going to have to make phone-time. For example, maybe when you're cleaning? Or if not, designate 20 minutes for after you're finished cleaning (or after your workout, etc). I know people who designate their driving time as telephone time, and they keep up with everyone that way. (Using a hands-free headset or speaker phone, of course.) So, to and from the gym? To and from work? Maybe, make one call as soon as you get home, and one call right before bed?

I don't talk on the phone. I mean, very rarely. Certainly not to "chat", unless it's to catch up with someone who lives far away (and who doesn't use e-mail). I use it as a tool, say, to find out what time someone is going to arrive, or to tell someone I'm running late, or whatever. The people in my life know that I'm reachable via e-mail, text, things like that, and it's not a problem. (Or if it is, they have never told me so.) It would indeed be a big problem if my parents, family, friends, boyfriend, etc, felt slighted because I didn't make phone-time for them. But if that began to happen, I would indeed create that phone time. You can find 20 minutes a day. You can pick one person per day. Since you don't talk on the phone at all, this would come off as a MAJOR improvement to your friends and family.

You sound basically like me, a basic introvert. I cherish the friends and family I have, but I can go a couple weeks without doing anything "social". (I see people at work. When I go home I prefer to have "me" time. The exception would be if I had an intimate relationship with someone; that's the person I like to share my "me" time with.) You probably wonder what there is to chat about on the phone during the week if you're seeing that person on the weekend. (I do!) It's just a discrepancy between different types of people. You either need to compromise with these people by making just a little bit of phone time, or find different kinds of friends. (Mothers are supposed to nag.)
posted by iguanapolitico at 12:44 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Some of you are missing the part about him being a songwriter.

THAT TAKES TIME. He may NOT have time to talk to people during the week. What's wrong with that???

If I talk to MY son once a week I consider that fine. Same for my married daughter...I don't usually talk to anyone else on the phone during the week myself.

Perhaps he needs suggestions on managing the expectations of others!
posted by konolia at 1:22 PM on July 2, 2008

Coming from someone who is, you sound like an introvert. There's nothing wrong with not wanting daily or weekly social interaction.

If you don't feel the need to call someone up on the phone twice a week, don't. There's no obligation to do so.

(My family has gotten the hint that I like "me time" and doesn't get offended when I don't call every week to see what is going on. Instead, I'll write an email or two when I get a free moment so we don't completely drift apart.)
posted by Brian Puccio at 1:22 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Simply put, it seems like you have too many hobbies that you try to jam into the week. In addition to work, you:

Work out

What you need to do is to divert some of this to the weekend, and be a little more accessible during the week. Combine commuting and working out by riding a bicycle a few days a week. Prepare meals in advance so that you don't have to spend so much time cooking during the week. Do only the minimal maintenance cleaning during the week, and the rest of the chores on Saturday/Sunday morning.

Calling parents once a week is more than plenty in my book, but for a relationship, if it gets serious, then you need to give some time every other day at the LEAST for a phone conversation.

Also, you don't mention your weekends. I rarely if ever see people during the week, and no one gives me flak for it. Are you catching up with people on the weekend, or just doing more stuff for yourself on the weekends too?
posted by explosion at 1:48 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Also, you don't mention your weekends. I rarely if ever see people during the week, and no one gives me flak for it. Are you catching up with people on the weekend, or just doing more stuff for yourself on the weekends too?

Weekends I see my friends/girlfriend (when there is one)/parents(at least every other week)........Thats why I try to do everything during the week.

Music is more than a hobby, last year a third of my income came from writing songs. Having that in mind, after reading some of the answers regarding being an introvert I went to google to look up some of the traits.... and it seems that I am one as well.
posted by The1andonly at 1:56 PM on July 2, 2008

I also hate phone calling, so I get where you're coming from. I hate having to stop doing something in order to hear someone go "blah blah, so and so blah blah blah" for an hour, and me going "uh-huh, uh-huh," because they don't feel valued if they don't specifically hear MY VOICE uh-huh-ing for an hour. Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "I could be eating dinner right now, and I could have read this over e-mail in five minutes." I wish I could do more e-mail and less phone calling, but some people are old school and really insist on the phone.

I pretty much stick to the "mandatory mom phone call on Sunday" schedule, and otherwise make phone calls when I am in transit. Commute calls are gonna be "dead time" for what you want to do anyway (you won't be writing songs on the subway or while driving or whatever, right?), and it gets people off your back. I don't know what you do during lunch hours, but that might be time that you can't spend doing something you really want to do, so you might as well get calls over with.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:45 PM on July 2, 2008

I hate phone calls too. I've found that people are pretty satisfied with very quick calls made more frequently (ie - call the girlfriend a few times a week for 5-10 minutes). You can probably get away with one call a week to your mom (but I think that's a bit much, since you go see her so regularly).

Face it, they're never going to be completely satisfied with your calling frequency - it seems to be a bit of a power game for parents. As for your girlfriend, I personally would be annoyed if you called me when you didn't have anything to say (but, I hate phone calls) - I think it would be enough if you made contact often enough to show you were thinking of her.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:12 PM on July 2, 2008

As a fellow introvert, what worked for me over time is that the people I cared most about and who cared about me grew to understand that I hated to talk on the phone. My mother was that way, too, so we didn't have conflict. After I moved away for college, we never lived in the same city again. Years ago, when long-distance calls were more expensive, we had reason (or an excuse) to keep the calls short and infrequent. (Yes, I'm middle aged) Later on, my family all had email and we emailed several times a week in preference to coordinating time zones and the like.

I think konolia has a good point about "managing the expectations of others." You are the way you are. You can try to change your behavior, but it might be worth explaining to your friends and family that it's not that you don't care or that you're distant, but it's just not in your nature to initiate those phone calls. Maybe they should call you, or even better, save the discussion up for the "quality time" when you're actually together and can give each other undivided attention.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:01 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seriously, the best suggestion is to get a handsfree for your phone as suggested above. Call your friends & family while you're working out/cooking/cleaning. Easy and simple!
posted by the_ancient_mariner at 6:39 PM on July 2, 2008

Could you IM your family/friends/partner while you're doing other stuff on the computer? That's how my boyfriend and I keep in touch when I'm overseas on holiday - he's at work, I'm at home, we chat online. Doesn't take up too much mental energy, but it still works.
posted by divabat at 9:44 PM on July 2, 2008

a third of your income came from writing songs - so you can easily argue that you have two jobs.

I would try to make quick calls on the commute, if you can. It's so easy to get off the phone when you can say "oop, about the get in the elevator/go into a tunnel/be attacked by wolves" or whatever might happen on that trip.

In my mind, working out, cooking, and cleaning are zen-like activities that should not be messed with. However, maybe you feel that way about your trips to and from work. In that case, flip and make calls while you are cooking/clearning.

Or you could be evil and let the cooking and cleaning go, call your girlfriend during the week instead. And then on the weekend, say, sorry, the house is a wreck and I'm starved for decent food. Have to stay in all weekend and get things put back together. Was somehow too busy last week....
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:37 PM on July 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you talk to people more often, you don't have to talk to them as long.
posted by abdulf at 12:51 AM on July 23, 2008

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