During shelter-in-place, time boundaries have melted into each other. It’s difficult to differentiate between days, both as we’re going through them and when we’re looking back on them. Given that the days don’t have the structure that changing locations imposed – going into the office, heading to the gym, going out for coffee – I’ve realized that sometimesIe don’t get the individual time that I crave as an introvert. Moreover, I wasn’t sure about how to communicate that to my partner without sounding standoffish.

A technique that’s really helped us navigate this is clearly characterizing our activities using a “ME/ME+/WE” system.

  • ME: An activity that I want to do without you. This could be going for a solitary walk for reflection, doing a call with a close friend that I haven’t caught up with in a long time, or doing a Zoom yoga class where I don’t want you tangling up my space. When scheduling ME time on the calendar, the actual activity doesn’t matter, as it’s more about the private-ness of the time.
  • ME+: An activity that is tailored to my preferences, which you are welcome to join me. This can be a dance class from an instructor that I really like, or watching a documentary that I’m interested in.
  • WE: A mutually enjoyable activity, designed with both our preferences in mind. This could be watching a movie that we’re both excited about watching, or playing a board game together. Classic date night stuff.

We’ve been coding the activities in our shared calendar with these tags, and it’s helped us both communicate our time needs – for individual, couple, and “in-between” time – in a clear, non-threatening way.