Despite our best intentions, time with family and friends often gets pre-empted by deadlines, meetings, business trips, and other obligations. But spending quality time with the people you care about not only nurtures those relationships, but it can also nurture your business because it relieves stress and reminds you of your priorities.
Quality time is all about focusing on the other person and listening attentively as you do an activity you both enjoy or just catch up on each other’s lives (that means no furtive glances at your BlackBerry or your watch as you mentally recap your to do list). Yes, it can be tough to carve out a few hours in an already packed schedule, but it’s well worth it and doesn’t have to be expensive.
Here are some suggestions for fun, low-cost activities with family members or friends:
*Group potluck picnic or swap party. Getting together with a group lets you catch up with several people at once. A potluck offers an intimate and inexpensive alternative to dinner at a restaurant, while a swap party lets you clean out your closet or bookshelves while trading with friends. You could donate any leftover items to charity.
*Volunteer project. Giving back to the community is a great way to spend your time, especially when you can do it with your family or a couple of friends. Choose a charity that is meaningful to everyone or alternate who gets to pick the activity to make it fair.
*Outdoor activities. Walking, hiking, running, swimming, or other outdoor activities give you a chance to get some exercise and fresh air while catching up with friends, family, and other loved ones. Being outdoors is also excellent stress relief and aids your absorption of vitamin D. So go hit the park or beach!
*Craft projects. Thanks to the DIY craze, craft projects like knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, or making your own jewelry are more popular than ever. Enlist the help of a crafty friend or check out a couple of instructional books from the library to get started. (I’m enjoying putting together photos of my father who passed last year.)
*Movie marathon. Choose a few movies you’ll both enjoy from NetFlix or the local library. You could choose a theme such as Fifties Fluff or Brat Pack Attack or just pop in whatever appeals to you and your friends or family. Add some microwave popcorn and drinks for an easy, inexpensive evening of entertainment.
*Board games. Feel like a kid again with CandyLand, smarten up with Scrabble (my favorite!), or fuel your inner mogul with a game of Monopoly. Board games are a great activity if you have kids, but they can also be fun for adults. Puzzles can be fun, too, with the right group of people.
Once you and your family or friends decide on a date to get together, write it in your calendar and treat it like you would an important business appointment: no last-minute canceling or rescheduling unless absolutely necessary. You and the people in your life will appreciate having guaranteed time together to relax and reconnect.
© 2009 Ali International, LLC
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