While it might seem unromantic to schedule time with your partner, it can be the opposite. Use a relationship calendar to make sure your significant other never falls by the wayside.
We live in an era when a life cluttered with meetings, deadlines, chores, children and social engagements is the norm. We’re all dashing from pillar to post, trying to tick things off a seemingly endless to-do list (and maintain our sanity), before we rest, rinse and repeat.
Managing a relationship amid all this toing and froing can be difficult, and our partner is often one of the first things to slip down our list of priorities. There’s a certain sense of irony in this: their support is important in helping us navigate our many responsibilities and commitments, but somehow everything else seems to come first.
Scheduling quality time with your partner, and even creating a relationship calendar, might sound decidedly unromantic and forced, but the benefits are enormous.
A 2016 study found that couples who spend time together are more likely to feel happier, experience more meaning in their lives, and enjoy less stress. They’re also likely to adopt healthier behaviors over extended periods of time and even live longer.
Fortunately, establishing a relationship schedule is easier to do than you might think. And once you’re in the habit, all the benefits are yours. Here are a few tips to help this process feel easy and natural.
Track Your Current Time Together
If you live together, it’s all too easy to confuse time together with quality time together. Just because you’re chatting about who’s doing the school run today, doesn’t mean that you’re really connecting. Conversations about what bills need to be paid don’t count as emotionally productive communication. These moments are important, but they won’t help you to feel stronger and better connected over the long term.
Examine how you currently spend your time. Deliberately tracking your time in an app like Timing can help you see where the hours disappear every day. This habit might help you realize just how much time you’re spending working, or how much you’re wasting sitting in traffic because you’re not being smart about the errands you need to run. It might also help you realize just how little time you’re spending with your partner, which could help to bump it up your list of priorities.
Set Aside Quality Time
Now, it’s time to start carving out some quality time together.
A date night is a great place to start. We know you’ve heard this one before, but if you haven’t made it a regular part of your life, you might not be aware of its benefits. Psychologist Dianne Grande describes date nights as a necessity, not a luxury, and says that enjoying planned time together “enhances your friendship as well as your emotional connectedness”.
Start scheduling date nights and make them as much of a not-to-be-missed priority as you do your work meetings. Of course, your dates don’t always have to be a major event or a great expense. A cell phone-free cup of coffee, an afternoon walk, or doing an activity you both enjoy, will also add to your bond.
If you need to remind yourself that this is time well spent, you can manually log it as productive time in Timing.
Add Appreciation Reminders to Your To-do List
This may sound a little trivial, but if life keeps getting in the way or you’ve been in your relationship a long time, you might be out of the habit of telling your partner how much you appreciate them. Research shows that expressing gratitude to your partner and letting them know how much their help and support means to you can greatly improve your relationship.
If you have a daily checklist, add “appreciate my partner” as a to-do. You can also schedule it as a recurring reminder on your calendar so that you get pinged every few days. Try and be creative about what your expressions of gratitude look like: you could leave a sticky note on the bathroom mirror, for example, or pick up their favorite treat at the grocery store.
Make Time to Do Chores Together
This one doesn’t sound like fun, but it might help you to replace time arguing about chores with time spent doing something fun. If you’re both busy with work and resentful of what you feel is an imbalance in housekeeping (it’s possible that you’re both feeling this), try dividing the labor equally and, ideally, doing it together.
Set aside some time once a week for a deep clean, put on some music, and reward yourselves with a bite to eat or a glass of wine at the end of it. You can use an app like Timing to track your chores by logging what you’ve been doing when you return to your screen. You’re not only productive when you’re online.
Create Monthly KPI Meetings
We’re being a bit facetious here. While every relationship takes work, it shouldn’t necessarily warrant KPIs, or key performance indicators. But creating time in your relationship calendar to really check in on things that are important to you is critical to addressing certain points before they become larger issues. This process isn’t just about making sure that you “hit the numbers”, but more about regularly checking in with each other to make sure that you’re both happy and on track.
Use your monthly – or even weekly – KPI meetings to assess where you’re at and where you would like to be. You might decide to talk about certain issues every time – your children, your finances and your sex life – or you might prefer to keep it a bit ad hoc. If you’re not sure where to start, use these questions to get the conversation going.
Schedule Technology-Free Alone Time
The irony of this suggestion isn’t lost on us, but as much as we love all things digital, we know that some technology-free time is essential.
Your relationship schedule should account for proper down time. This means no laptops, phones or buzzing smartwatches. These devices only distract you from the moment at hand and can mean important conversations trail off in favor of incoming emails or your social media notifications.
One way to manage this so that it becomes a consistent habit is to create a technology-free bedroom, which will likely not only affect the quality of your relationship but the quality of your sleep as well. You could also agree to have one meal together every day without technology. This forces you to talk to each other and connect.
Tracking and scheduling your relationship is an excellent way to make sure that it doesn’t get lost amid your other priorities. Start by adding your relationship as a project on Timing. Remember to set it as a high-productivity task. Then, when you return to your laptop, you can describe what you were doing while you were away from your screen.
Your personal life matters as much as your professional life, if not more. While it may not seem romantic to consider it “work”, taking the time to schedule and care for your relationship can help you to restore some much-needed equilibrium.
Want to give time tracking a go, and see how you can use it to manage your work and personal life? Download a free trial of Timing today.