In the last year, if you’re anything like I am, you miss certain things about life and work and friendships. While some relationships and circumstances seem back to normal, many people are still working from home. A friend recently shared that her office is not renewing their lease, and team meetings will now commence on Zoom until further — maybe forever — notice. Other companies instituted partial days in and out of the office. We all still feel some sort of loss from the last year, and often it’s relationally or, at the least, rhythms of everyday life that still look different.
As work continues to shift, whether in pace, time, or location, relationships change with it. The same goes for many other places we find or insert ourselves in each season.
Cultivating both work and personal relationships can be difficult. But it also can lead to rewarding community, growth, and support if we’re willing to put in the work. Here are five things you can do during your work day to cultivate the relationships in your life, whether at work, home, or church.
Get off Instagram or Twitter and send a text instead
Maybe you work in an office environment with a rigid schedule, or maybe your schedule is flexible and changes each day. Maybe your work exists totally outside of the nine to five grind, and “ normal” doesn’t exist for your working hours.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, we all know our tendency can be to waste time at work or at home. Social media scrolling takes two minutes and multiplies, and before we know it our lunch, a baby’s nap time, or the only free time we had during the day disappeared.
Replace five to 10 minutes of scrolling Facebook to send a text to your spouse, child, or neighbor. And, who knows, it could make more of a difference than doomscrolling Twitter.
Plan out your week with people like you would a meeting
If you block time for your work life, in whatever capacity, why wouldn’t you do the same for friends and family? Sometimes we do, but sometimes we don’t think about the implications of the busyness of work and how it can crowd out everyday life. Set a time of the week — Mondays over lunch, or Fridays before end of day — to plan out coffee dates, lunches, or times to spend with people in a way that gives space for important conversations that aren’t through a screen and limited in characters.
Steward your commute well
One of the things I missed during the pandemic was my commute. I used it to call friends, my mom, and pray. As work life continues its return normal, commutes will soon be back, too. If the pre-pandemic world is a reliable gauge, most of us will soon spend around 27 minutes a day commuting one-way to work. Can you use the time driving, riding public transit, or on your bike well? My driving times are usually some of the best minutes of my day, pre-planned yet open for intentional time to check in with people. Commutes also afford many people with sacred alone time, giving ample freedom for prayer, meditation, and establishing rhythms (liturgies, anyone?) for communing with God, even if brief.
Hate texting? Send someone a (physical) note
Are there ways you can create daily or weekly touchpoints with your family that fit into your everyday life? Take time to write a note by hand to a loved one (yes, some of us still keep a stash of stamps nearby) to send once a month. Most of us love getting mail that isn’t a bill or ad for Hello, Fresh trying to get us to buy weekly meals, again.
Take walks over lunch or breaks with coworkers (or your kids)
For a season at our office, some of my coworkers and I would take 10 minute walk breaks. When a coworker wasn’t available, I walked alone and tried to use that time to pray for needs I knew about for friends, family, or myself. Not only does walking have physical benefits, but mental and emotional benefits, too, for you and maybe your friends or family.
Each of these are opportunities to pause and ask ourselves “How am I investing in those around me today?” in an attainable way.
So, how will you use your lunch break today?