I was an imaginative kid who played well on my own. Even though I could play by myself, what I really craved was one on one time with my hero, my dad.
It didn’t matter what we did–play cards, throw around the baseball, run to the hardware store–my ‘Dad Time’ was coveted and special. He was giving his time, his focus, his words and his affection to me.
As I got older and started dating my future wife, my focus on quality time was with her. Most of our time dating was across long distances. So, making our time really count was important. Meaningful conversations. Memorable dates. Sunsets, day trips and new, exciting venues.
Fast forward to today. Five kiddos and the love of my life. A widowed mother. A small inner circle of friends. Meaningful client relationships. Giving of my time, in a meaningful way, is harder than ever.
I’m guessing you feel the same.
With so many areas of your life vying for your time, focus and energy, it’s no wonder you can feel overwhelmed at the end of each day. Often, feelings of regret, disappointment or failure can flood your heart.
The question is, can you avoid these negative feelings? Can you end your day feeling accomplished in your relationships? Can you satisfy your own schedule and To Do list as well as the emotional needs of those who love you?
The answer is yes!
The best part of all, you can give without losing. It’s a win-win situation.
I’d like to share four really powerful tips to help you be a great giver of your time.
Do you take your kids to the playground only to spend the time sitting on the bench on your phone?
Have you had your mother call you while you were finishing some work on the computer and spent the time typing away and answering “uh-huh” while she keeps the conversation going?
I think we are so used to this type of distracted company in today’s world, that the person who decides to be totally present to you–physically, mentally, emotionally present–makes you feel like the person you are, a person with importance and dignity.
I had a boss like this. Every time I’d knock on his open office door, he’d immediately put down what he was working on, turn his chair to face me and give me his undivided attention. This attentiveness made a huge and lasting impact on me and marked a turning point in my leadership strategies.
When the opportunity comes to spend quality time with someone, be sure you’re mentally and emotionally present to the person. It’s not enough to be physically there. Trust me, others can instantly tell when you’re disconnected! Your eyes, the depth of your conversation and, believe it or not, even your body language can scream ‘I don’t care’ and make that other person feel really unimportant.
Unfocused, rushed, distracted presence isn’t presence at all; it’s a counterfeit. If you want to truly make the most of each moment, make it a point to mentally and emotionally let go of the ‘other stuff’ so you can be fully present to the person with whom you are physically spending your time.
Be creative in planning time with others.
This one, I have to say, I’ve learned by ‘failing forward’.
Back to my dating years: I was 18 when my wife and I started dating. Let’s just say, at the time, I was a home body. Not that I always spent time at home but I never really ventured too far. I did pretty much everything within a seven mile radius of my home. Needless to say, I quickly had to learn how to get outside my comfort zone and be creative in our dates. I started to learn my city and what was really out there.
From this experience, I can tell you, creativity is fun! Get out of your comfort zone, think outside the box and use your creative planning to engage in more fruitful experience with others.
Go to a cultural event, a movie, a nature hike, a play. Explore a part of your city you’ve never been. By being creative in your quality time with others, you will create common experiences that will foster memories and great conversation. Venture out of the ‘same old’ coffee shop or restaurant, shed the boring and get your creativity on!
Use the natural flow of the day to punch in some quality time with others. Whether you’re at home or in the office, start taking strategic breaks throughout the day to show someone you care. These times can be short or long depending on your circumstance.
I’ve gotten into the habit of using my car time as quality time. When I’m with my kids, we play guessing games, have ‘dance parties’ with the music pumping or simply talk about their day. I answer their deep questions or we exchange goofy jokes.
If I’m alone in the car, I’ve begun using this time as small connection moments to make a quick phone call just to let a special someone know I care.
If you look closely at the natural flow of you day, you can easily find some moments to reach out and give yourself to others.
Whether a long or short commute, you can use the drive home to call a good friend just to say hello. While walking to the office kitchen, stop to ask a colleague if they want a coffee. At home, choose quality time over TV, pacing or doing chores and connect with your family members.
We all have particular people in our lives who are especially keen on spending time with us. I was that person in my dad’s life. Today, my son is one of those people who craves my attention. Learn to be open and honest about your time with these people. If you know you’ll be very busy in the next while, be sure you make them aware.
If you are clear and open about your availability, you’ll avoid a lot of disappointment with people around you. I had a close friend who sought quality time with me. He felt particularly disappointed in my lack of time with him. My fault: instead of filling him in on my increased work load, I would just decline his invitations to get together with a “Sorry buddy, I’m booked.” I soon realized that if I didn’t cut it out, he’d lose interest in our friendship altogether.
Your absence may cause frustrated and hurt thoughts such as: I wonder why he doesn’t call anymore? Did I do something? Does he even care about me at all?
Clarity and communication lets them know that your busyness is not personal and not permanent. Your effort to find the time for quality time will ensure lasting, strong relationships.
Go and Grow!
P.S. Have you got it all figured out? You know, the no stress, more time and more money goals? Do you want to take your leadership skills to the next level?
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