How to Make Your Love Life Work When You're Both Busy as Hell

If your schedule so packed with obligatory dinner dates that you barely get any quality time with bae, it might be time to de-clutter your calendar and scrap all the crap you don't really want to do. (We're talking coffee dates with your frenemy; you still have to pay your bills.) After all, as fans of Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Upare well aware, getting rid of everything that doesn’t “spark joy” will increase your happiness and help clear out space for the things you love. (Ahem, steamy nights with your guy?) 

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We asked a few organizational experts for tips on how to free up your time for stuff that's actually fun. Date night awaits! 

Evaluate What Brings You Joy
And reduce what doesn’t. Gretchen Rubin, author of the New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project and creator of the popular weekly podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin, knows a thing or two about getting happy. Rubin recommends thinking critically about everything you do, instead of automatically assuming it’s something you enjoy. “When you're doing this as a couple, recognize that you may have different ideas about what you find fun," she says. "Be realistic about how you both enjoy spending your time.”

"Recognize that you may have different ideas about what you find fun."

Patty Morrissey, a coach, organizer, and KonMari consultant, suggests using Marie Kondo's KonMari Method to evaluate what you enjoy. Write different activities on individual pieces of paper, then group them into categories such as work, friends, family, and home. Take each piece of paper and ask if the activity sparks joy. If the answer is no, ask yourself whether you can stop doing it. According to Morrissey, this exercise will further communication between you and your partner, and will likely free up time for “discovery dates” to try new things and add some excitement to your relationship. Melanie Mills, Ph.D., a counselor with a doctorate in temperament therapy, advocates for another action-oriented strategy: Write a list of activities that bring you joy, and a list of activities you can do to bring out your playful spirit, such as bowling, indoor rock climbing, or karaoke. Then, go do them!

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Evaluate Your Other Relationships
Do you have to go another dinner party at the Smith’s house, even though you always want to leave after hors-d'oeuvres? Think about the people you spend time with and how you feel after getting together. Sandra Hamilton, Ph.D., recommends reassessing your current relationships to make more time for the authentic and enriching ones. “A short list of gratifying relationships is healthier than a long list of people you can’t count on” she says.

"A short list of gratifying relationships is healthier than a long list of people you can’t count on."

Hamilton urges letting go of toxic relationships and limiting contact with people who make you feel drained, annoyed, or numb. “Keep in mind that healthy relationships are enduring, mutual, and interdependent," she says. "The investment of time and energy results in trust, loyalty, and deeper awareness of yourself and the other person."

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Evaluate Your Events
You don’t have to accept every single invitation. Christina Giaquinto, owner of a business that provides organizing solutions, suggests asking yourself this straightforward question: “Is it more important to make everyone else happy, and say yes all the time, or to nurture my relationship and say no when we need time to ourselves?” If you’d prefer to cook a romantic dinner at home than go out for a double date, do that. Jamie Novack, a professional organizer, author, and motivational speaker has a simple solution for making sure you have time together—block it off in your calendar and schedule a recurring date. Sure, it may not sound spontaneous and romantic, but it will give you time to plan something that is. “You'll get more happiness out of your time if you think about how you are spending it,” says Rubin. 

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