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I spent a month doing the 8-minute phone call challenge, and it improved my relationships with my best friends

The author wearing a silver sparkly suit and leaning against a side table.Jen Glantz started doing the eight-minute phone call challenge with two of her best friends.

Courtesy Jen Glantz

  • I tested the eight-minute phone call concept to reconnect with two of my best friends.
  • The structured, quick calls helped me catch up with my friends despite my busy schedule.
  • We’ve kept up with the calls and still look forward to them every week.

For the past year, I haven’t been the greatest friend. I am a new mom who works full-time without any childcare. My days are jam-packed with work calls, deadlines, caring for my baby, and trying to sleep when I can. It often takes me two or three days to respond to text messages from friends, and I keep pushing off returning missed calls because I am tired.

Plus, most of my best friends don’t live in the same city anymore — they live all over the country. While it would be easier for them to stop by and catch up over coffee while the baby was napping, that isn’t an option. As time has gone by, there’s so much to catch up on that I’ve started to dread hopping on the phone with a friend because I know the call would last a few hours.

But still, friendship is deeply important to me, and I didn’t want to continue isolating myself during such a busy season of my life. I was desperate to find a solution. After doing some research on how to stay connected to friends who live far away, I read about a concept called the eight-minute phone call. The rules are simple. You text a friend and ask to set a time to talk on the phone for, yes, eight minutes. After the time is up, you set a date for the next conversation.

At first, I thought this concept was silly. How can two people possibly exchange enough information about their lives in such a short amount of time? But it sounded better than nothing, and I decided to give it a try. So for the month of February, I scheduled weekly eight-minute calls with two of my close friends, Sarah and Larissa.

The calls worked best when we structured our time wisely

On the first phone call with Sarah, we spent most of the time admitting how much we both missed each other and that we had so many updates to share. When the timer went off, we realized that we didn’t actually share any of those updates.

Before my first call with Larissa, I decided to give these short calls a structure. I told Larissa that we should spend the first two minutes talking about anything that came to mind. Then, Larissa would get the next two minutes uninterrupted to share updates, and I’d get the following two minutes to do the same. We’d use the last two minutes to ask follow-up questions and wrap up the call.

While this made the call feel more business-like, we were actually able to share important things about our lives. By the end of the month, it felt more natural. We knew what to expect when we hopped on the phone, and by the end of the eight minutes, we felt like we were walking away with a good sense of what was new in each of our lives.

It helped me to plan ahead of time what I wanted to share

When friends live far away, you miss out on so many details of their lives. I liked that these calls allowed for short updates, even if there wasn’t time for longer stories.

While Larissa and Sarah didn’t always come to the table with pre-planned topics they wanted to chat about, I often did. I would write out an agenda of two or three main things I wanted to share on the call with each person ahead of time, which helped me stay focused and make sure I wasn’t forgetting things I wanted to share.

One week, I talked about a big win at work, a new class I was taking the baby to, and a mom friend I made in my apartment building that I had a lot in common with. Having this list to go off of helped me feel productive on these calls.

These short calls made it easier to stay connected

Even though the calls often felt choppy and ended abruptly, since at the eight-minute mark, we’d say goodbye to stay true to experiment, even if we were mid-thought, they were a game changer for my friendships. Without them, I might speak to a friend once every six to eight weeks on an hourlong phone call, and there would just be too much information to share during that time. I felt like I was growing apart from a lot of these people because I wasn’t in tune with how their weeks were going in real time.

These phone calls took the place of longer calls, but also replaced the need for text message chats. It had became hard to find the time and energy to answer a friend who would ask how I was over text message, and I found it easier to save my energy for an eight-minute call instead.

Perhaps the biggest perk of these short calls was getting to hear the voices of my best friends. Toward the middle of the month, Sarah and I decided to make these video chats instead of voice chats. Getting to see or hear my friends was a treat and made connecting with them feel personal.

The experiment isn’t for everyone, but we’re continuing our weekly calls

At the end of February, I decided to ask two more friends if they wanted to give this a try. One friend said no because the shortness of the calls gave her too much anxiety. Another friend agreed, but when we reached eight minutes, she didn’t want to get off the phone and we ended up breaking the experiment and talking for an hour and a half.

I realized that these eight-minute phone calls aren’t a solution for every friendship. For them to work, both people have to be willing to stick to the timeframe and come prepared to share a few details during the call While I’m still doing longer catch-up calls every few weeks with some friends, I loved these shorter calls with Sarah and Larissa so much that we’ve continued doing them as-is — eight minutes, once a week.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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