The Streamlined Mind – Organizing Your Social Life

The Streamlined Mind – Organizing Your Social Life

157Do ever feel like life would be a whole lot less stressful if it weren’t for all the other people?

We all feel like this from time to time – and especially when life is getting on top of us and we don’t have the time, energy or money to devote to our friends.

So how do you go about organizing your social life and staying on top of all those things you need to do?

Prioritize

The first thing you need to do is to prioritize.

If you have a busy social calendar, then it’s often easy to feel overly stressed and put upon. You’re constantly being asked out to events and if you say no, then you feel as though you’re letting people down.

This gets harder and harder as we get older. People move away and meanwhile we have more and more responsibilities. We feel like we can’t say no to a friend who invites us out because it was so long since we saw them last time.

Here’s the thing though: there comes a time in life where you just can’t do everything you want to do. As such, you need to prioritize and as sad as that sounds, that can sometimes mean pruning your social network.

Right at the top of your priorities if you’re an adult, should be your partner, your children and your immediate family. If you’re having a hard time turning down invitations, then simply remind yourself that you need to reserve the lion’s share of your time and energy for your family. This doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you an adult with responsibilities!

This doesn’t mean that you’re going to cut off contact with your friends or tell them you don’t want to see them anymore! All it means is that you might – for example – only accept one invitation to spend time with friends a week. Or more realistically, two a month as you start to get older.

That means that if you have two invitations from two sets of friends, you might simply to decide which friend is one of your ‘priorities’.

‘Dunbar’s Number’ is the number of friends that we can realistically maintain relationships with. He puts the number as somewhere between 100-250, with ‘150’ being the most commonly quoted figure.

This number though is not exclusively referring to friends though but rather all the contacts we can maintain whether they be friends, colleagues, associated or acquaintances.

In reality, you can probably only maintain about 10 truly close relationships – so choose who those ten are going to be!

Forget Frenemies

One thing that makes this a lot easier is to think about all the friends you have that aren’t really friends. These are the people who we count as friends but who really we don’t actually enjoy spending time around all that much.

These are the friends who we constantly moan about to our other friends. And these are the friends who let us down.

As you get older and the stakes get higher, you unfortunately just don’t have time for friends who aren’t really friends. As such, it’s time to put those people to one side and to focus on the ones who you really enjoy spending time with and who are there for you.

Just as removing some of the unnecessary items from your decorating can help to put more emphasis on your favorite belongings, you can likewise enjoy closer relationships with the people who really matter to you by spending less time with the people who don’t deserve your time and energy.

Keep a Calendar

Another important tip is to keep a calendar. If you have lots of friends and a busy social life, then this is likely to result in a lot of different things planned. One of the biggest stresses that can come from this is being double booked for multiple activities which means letting people down or rushing to try and accomplish both.

Keeping a diary is a great way to avoid this from happening and especially if you can use an app that will let you easily update and edit events on the fly. This way you can also set up different reminders to ensure that you always know what’s coming up and don’t forget something big you have on your agenda.

What’s even better about using an app like Google Calendar is that you can also let other people see your diary and contribute to it. This is a great way to arrange meetups and get-togethers because it lets people see when you’re free.

Now comes one of the very biggest tips for organizing your life and getting things in order: make sure that you also add your other tasks and to do list to your diary.

Ask yourself what the things are that you absolutely can’t miss. For instance, you might decide that at all costs you are going to go to the gym three times a week. Maybe you absolutely can’t put off filling out your tax return any longer.

So make sure it’s in the diary and treat it just as you would any other activity – as immutable. If someone suggests doing something on that day and you have ‘fill out tax return’ already on that date, then you explain that you can’t meet up, or that you’ll have to get there are couple of hours later.

It seems extreme but once you start taking your commitments seriously, you’ll find you have much more time to actually do the things you want to do and that you don’t feel stressed because those necessary tasks are constantly being pushed back.

Facebook

Ah Facebook.

Facebook is one of the biggest culprits for many of us when it comes to procrastination, stress and overwhelm. Not only does Facebook take up a huge amount of time by giving us something to randomly browse through, it can also lead to stress (and even depression) through something called ‘social comparison theory’ (we essentially compare our lives to the highlights that everyone else shows off).

Then there’s the fact that Facebook keeps us in touch with all those people we no longer know, no longer care about and no longer need to be in touch with.

So what’s the solution?

You might expect me to say ‘delete Facebook’ at this point, but that would really be rather rash – after all, Facebook is a very useful tool and can actually make organizing events and things a lot easier.

Instead then, simply take a look at your Facebook and streamline and prune it.

Firstly: you probably don’t need the Facebook app on your phone! Not only does the Facebook app take up a lot of juice thereby draining your battery and slowing down your device but it can also constantly pester you with notifications and messages that really aren’t all that pressing. They come through as emails anyway, so why not turn off the app?

More important is simply to delete those contacts on Facebook that aren’t really friends. People from your infant school, people who you met at random parties and people who you don’t like can all go.

And as for your news feed, why not just ‘unfollow’ some of the people you don’t really want to see?

Doing all these things will allow you to make more use from Facebook without the stressful/distracting/time consuming elements.

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