How to maintain friendships outside of work when your schedule is packed

Monday morning hits and you roll out of bed, into work, and eventually head out for a long commute. By the time you get home, you wish you had the energy to meet up with a friend for dinner, but you’re exhausted, so you push it until the weekend… and then you never meet up. This isn’t the first time.

Here’s how to actively invest in friendships when you have a busy career.

Why you should strive to keep your friendships alive

But first, here’s why it’s so worthwhile to keep up friendships — not just for your life, but for your career in particular.

Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., author of The Friendship Fix, features advice from Shasta Nelson, founder of women’s friendship site GirlfriendCircles, in a HuffPost article.

Nelson talks about why friendship should be a focus, even with packed schedule.

“Health-wise, there are few things that will make as big of an impact on our longevity and decreased stress-levels as having a circle of friends. Making our friendships our priority isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have-if-we-have-time,’ but a necessity of a healthy, happy and meaningful life,” Nelson tells the publication.

So take time to see your friends, and/or make new ones — it just might make you feel more fulfilled.

Pay up front to keep yourself from breaking plans

Forking over money for an activity in advance is a way to get time in with your friends when you’re busy, Kate Antoniades writes in a Corporette article, based on recommendations from readers.

“To make yourself more likely to go out and do something with a friend, take advantage of a Groupon or Living Social deal, or other prepaid offer. It’s harder to postpone a get-together or cancel plans when you’ve already spent the money. Now you’ll have no excuse not to meet a friend to take a barre class or check out a restaurant you’ve never tried,” she writes.

Scaled-back plans are better than none at all

Some time spent with friends is better than none, so get creative.

Alex Cavoulacos, co-founder of The Muse, tells the publication, “to make time for hobbies, passions, and relationships outside of work, I’ve made sure to have a short version of what I’d ideally love to do for busy weeks. I’d rather have a nice long dinner with a friend if I can, but during a busy week, catching a 45-minute coffee during the day is better than not seeing friends at all.”

Realize that both work and friendships need attention

HBR sheds light on why this is important.

“Progressing at work and maintaining friendships may seem mutually exclusive, given the time and effort that both involve, but they’re not. Go ahead and set ambitious career goals, but don’t sacrifice close ties in the process; give each one the energy required. Career and friendships can reinforce each other, as when friends at different firms get together to share big-picture career insights, inspiring each person’s passion for professional growth,” it says.

Your friendships don’t have to suffer because of your schedule.