Need to Manage Your Relationships? Consider Friendly Fridays.

Donald Miller

So I’ve developed a new plan, a new workflow and I thought I’d share it with you in hopes it might help you but also in request for feedback.

As an introvert, meeting with people can sometimes be draining. It’s never draining in the moment, it’s actually quite enjoyable. It’s only draining later. If I travel and meet with people, I find I’m no good in the office for at least two days, and often three. If I give a conference, it will be ten days before my brain returns to normal.

I’ll be traveling less in the coming year so I can write two books, but the pressures to “get together” are still pretty furious here in Portland. I’d say every day I get about ten invitations to get coffee. Often, these are old friends of people I’ve done business with. Most of them are people I’d like to spend time with. Still, the choice is between hanging out and talking or having a productive week.

When writing, I can’t have anything else on the schedule. You never know when the words are going to hit. Being a writer is like taking pictures of weather. You have to be there, but so does the weather. If either of you don’t show up, the day is a loss. So, the key to writing is to always be there and hope the weather shows up too.

That said, sometimes the weather shows up about ten minutes before you agreed to get together with somebody. That means the writing day is ruined.

So here’s the new plan. I schedule all my meetings on Friday. I get it all done right before the weekend. The weekend can be spent with friends, too, but it can also be spent resting and getting ready for Monday.

I am even considering only returning phone calls and e-mails on Friday, too. That way the whole rest of the week can be spent writing and getting work done.

Monday, for me, is the most productive day of the week. I HATE meetings on Mondays because they fall right in the middle of my most efficient time. Whenever I see a Monday meeting on the calendar, my heart sinks.

What would your week look like if you only scheduled meetings on Fridays? Would it improve?

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller is all about story. He helps people live a better story at creatingyourlifeplan.com and grow their business at storybrand.com. Follow Don on Twitter (@donaldmiller). To read more of his posts on the Storyline Blog, click here.

  • http://lisadelay.com/blog Lisa Colón DeLay

    Tim Ferriss has mentioned that he does something like this with regards to email and other obligations. I think he’s called it a low information diet. Nothing can “break The Zone” like being pulled in a bunch of directions.

    I often silence my phone when writing, and plan certain times to reply to messages. Seth Godin says never do this the first thing in the morning…when you’re most fresh. Get your best work accomplished before you start getting pulled this way and that through email. I’ve found that to be superbly true.

    Best wishes carving out your time.

  • Priscilla Richter

    I’m a bit late to this party, but I have a few comments:

    1) I attended your Storyline conference in Nashville. It was transformational. And, wow, you have some awesome friends who live stories of transformation, as do you.

    2) I’m a pastor (and an introvert), so both relationship building and writing are part of the mix (Sundays have a funny habit of popping up regularly). I have tried to keep my meetings to 3 days per week, the minimum I could swing. This meant 12 hour days of back to back meetings. it got to the point that I could not reflect adequately on these meetings — I’d forget important details and by the end of the day, I had difficulty differentiating one meeting from another.

    I just returned from a 4 month sabbatical, and I can see that I need to learn how to work all this out.

    3) I realized something important from this post: on Tuesdays, I carve out worship prep time. I started going to a coffee shop with great ambience a distance from the small city where I live. I would work hard with few distractions and my writing flowed smoothly. However, I made some friends at that coffee shop, and all of a sudden my writing time was truncated, and after being with my new friends, it was difficult-to-impossible to get back to writing. Now I know why!

    So now I have something new to figure out.

    Thanks for the post, and thanks for sharing your wisdom and your story.

    • Anna

      Hi Priscilla!

      I was so happy to see your comment here, because I have regretted not being able to say goodbye at the conference, and I wanted to tell you want a blessing it was to meet you. This is Anna Biddison by the way, who met you with my mother Joy. I really appreciated your words of wisdom, and our visit and getting to know one another.

      So glad to see you are home safely from your sabbatical! I loved hearing about your time away, and I hope the rest of your trip went well and that you got the rest and visit with your family and friends that you needed.

      Will say a prayer for you as you get back into the swing of things, and as you figure out how to manage your time with others so that you can feel better about your time with them.

      Would love to keep in touch. My email is luvoflilacs@hotmail.com.

      Bless you, Anna.

  • Anna

    I can imagine how exhausted you must feel after meeting so many people. Particularly people who meet you with such enthusiasm. Must be a little strange, as it felt a bit strange to meet you knowing there is so little time to say what I would liked to have said, but I am grateful for the minute I had to thank you for the conference, and thankful for your genuine kindness.

    I am an introvert as well, and think your idea of friendly fridays would be beneficial for those who could potentially be overrun with meetings. I am not particularly busy now days with work, so staying socially active is good for me, though it also exhausts me. When I am busy, I hold dearly my free time, and know that I need to use it for rest. Otherwise I’m a mess.

    On another note, I wanted to share that I was finally able to see Blue Like Jazz. I graduated from grad school on the 12th, and to celebrate I ate some yummy Indian food and saw BLJ in a very neat old theater in Roanoke Virginia. It was a great day. I loved the movie, and my family and friends who saw it with me liked it as well. I loved the feel of it..particularly in the bookstore scene with Don in the astronaut suit. And of course, the confession booth scene at the end brought it all together so beautifully. You guys did a great job.

    Bless you Don. Praying Storyline goes well in Santa Barbara, as I’m sure it will.

  • Jesiah

    so…coffee? friday?
    Dig your stuff don. Honesty and genuine faith are hard to come by. Seems like you got both. Love you buddy.

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  • http://lowerthoughts.jrbuckley.com J.R. Buckley

    I would just love to figure out how to be productive while holding down a full-time job. You know, until I become a full-time writer.

  • Kylie

    I am an extrovert and it feels sort of the same way- even though i love being around people there is just a limit to how much you can give before you have to go and rejuvinate. Sometimes that means being with people who are giving as well as receiving and thats really hard to find that balance. Also it takes me a little while to settle into the being in my own space and head zone enough to write, I looove distractions.

  • lina

    hey wanna grab a coffee don? haha just kidding. you’re lucky you’re so cool. hardly anyone ever asks me to have coffee..

  • http://jillmarierichardson.com Jill Richardson

    I have the same thing happen. In a week where I’ve met with people constantly, I enter the weekend so exhausted can’t function. It’s horribly draining. And as a pastor, it’s kind of required. I think I may try this, or at least a variation of it. I’m trying to learn to pace my time so I have more writing time, so I’m looking for great ideas!

  • Gillian

    I hope you receive this, Don. This is an important question you ask. My take is simple. Artists require solitude to “hear” the voice in the same way that they need air. For years I wondered what was wrong with me. So many friends and business associates, all lovely people, wanted to share time. I had an overly full schedule year after year.When I realized that I was spending my life energy in, often, fulfilling others’ desires and putting off my own I came to a full stop.
    Writing, or any art, requires that one must have solitude to listen hard enough to make a worthy work. I have two other artists in my family. We all respect one another’s silence, space, work time, what have you. Consequently, I edited my social list dramatically. I have kept only the very few friends who know me intimately. I protect my time by turning everything off except Weds. Sometimes I work six days a week . Occasionally, seven. Now and then I need to get out. But it’s more important to me that I get done the work that I was put here to do.
    Most people believe me to be an extrovert. That’s my social self, and entirely true. But that I live as an introvert is the greater truth. Writer conventions have me flat out after only two days. I collapse. But I can figure that out. The important point is that when I’m in the writing zone, I’m in the sweet spot. I’m fulfilled in the doing. And that’s what it’s all about. Wishing you all the silence you need.

  • http://www.mysinglemamalife.com Nikki

    There’s this theme as of late with me about introversion. And interestingly enough I’ve been pondering whether or not you were and I wondered how you managed all the writing and socializing and everything that you DO, and still maintain such seeming balance and ‘presentness’. [I struggle a bit with doing this well]

    I’ve read several of your books and relate very much to the way you process but wondered what that looked like in person. I was able to see you at the UGM Banquet not too long ago and was quite delighted by the fella I saw up front. I asked you to sign a book for a friend and was quickly on my way because the introvert in me doesn’t quite know how to manage the sensory overload of many people milling around. Would love to have said a few more words. Coffee on Friday is really unlikely from a stranger, but it would be interesting to have a chat about it all. All being, writing, processing, relating, having been raised by a single mama, introverting, etc.

    Anyway…now I’m just thinking out loud and rambling. This has given me some good food for thought to chew on. Thanks for helping put things into a perspective that is so relateable.

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  • http://www.richmondbaptist.com Jeff

    I’m a pastor. I keep Monday sacred for sermon prep. I feel the same way about meetings on Monday. When I see a meeting that I scheduled on a Monday in a moment of weakness or a lapse in judgement my heart sinks because I know that to find more focused time to write my sermon for the rest of the week will be hard fought after. That’s why Mondays are sacred to me. The only time I do anything other than my sermon prep on Mondays now is if it’s an absolute emergency.

  • Tom Mabie

    Donald, I found your post via a blog by Michael Hyatt. I would like to print it, but didn’t find an easy way to do so. Do you have a suggestion?

    I know that Michaels’ blogs have a place toward the bottom of his blog entitled, “share and enjoy” and then an icon entitled, “print with print friendly”. I thought you might consider adding it to your webpage.

    I’d appreciate a response to my question above.

  • Kylie

    I’m writing this weeks after you posted it, so it’s probably all done and dusted but just in case, let me add my two cents…

    You should absolutely re-shape your week’s schedule however the heck you would like it to be! You’re a WRITER and a very successful one, so surely you have earned the right to put soul-recovery time and creativity in your schedule as priority & squish the ‘have to dos’ around that. There’s a bunch of stuff that we do in certain ways and according to certain time-frames because we feel like that’s what a good, responsible person should do… and I reckon they are worth questioning before setting the ship to autopilot.

    The smartest man I’ve ever known works Sundays (he is a pastor), has Mondays off (and is uncontactable by work), schedules Tuesdays for regular, internal team & board meetings, has Wednesdays only for external meetings, allows Thursdays to remain unscheduled so he can instigate meetings he would like or do other work, and Friday to do study & sermon prep. This means that when some people ask for an appointment, they have to wait months, because the only day those kind of appointments are booked into is a Wednesday. It sounds harsh, but it keeps him in the driver’s seat of his schedule… you know?

    Just some thoughts that might help. (Random… since I just discovered you last week. Great book! Thanks!)

    Kylie x

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  • Abby Hatch

    Just read this, and LOVE the idea! I’ve been feeling guilty for not investing more time in relationships, but when I do… Well, I’m definitely less productive. Thank you for the post! As an introvert myself, I’m excited to see how it goes.