How we beat the problems of time difference in our long-distance-relationship

Around one year ago I got into a long distance relationship with a lovely Indonesian girl. And I have to say that I learned a lot during the past year with her. Since we got around 11000 km and 5-6 hours (because Germany has this “brilliant” summer- and wintertime) between us, which is of course not always easy and brings a few challenges if we wanna make it work and still spend some time together.

To achieve as much time with her as I can I learned how to make my schedule. Before I used to have trouble to get to have a call with her, since there was always something to do. It happened a lot when she went to uni while I was sleeping and when she came back, I had to go. And when I came back home she was often already asleep because her uni starts early. That’s why there was always someone of us waiting for the other one and missing him/her badly.

A few weeks ago inspired me to sit down every Sunday and write down a plan for the next week. This works pretty well because I have a defined time of work and free time (time to call my love ;)). So trying to figure out the best schedule I’m using some ideas out of the computer science, which I got out of the book “Algorithms to live by” by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. Since for algorithms for computers have been put a lot effort into to optimize them, I think the idea to use them also for us is brilliant.

So here is what I do: Before I could start with my weekly schedule I had to set some constants into my schedule. First I noted the fixed events where I can’t change the time (namely uni and work) and blocked that time directly. And second I marked the time where my girlfriend usually has free time, so I won’t fill those times with work, which I can do at another time.

Now I make a weekly list of the tasks that I want or have to do, like writing a blog post, go running or cycling or doing homework. Now I measure the needed time for each of those tasks and see where each task would fit into the best (Algorithm of best fitting). Usually I can’t or don’t want to cover all of the tasks on my list, so I search for fitting spaces for urgent and important tasks first (usually the ones with a deadline in the next week). To filter that quickly I have three TO-DO list where I can directly separate my TO-DOs once they come up.

Because my girlfriend does her work while I’m in uni or sleeping, we still find a way to spend a lot of quality time together. And since we didn’t plan anything else, we can really relax during the time and don’t have to worry about undone work.

Also I don’t always do it precisely that way, sometimes I make it quick and dirty not even trying to get the perfect schedule. But during the week I feel more relaxed when I put a little more effort into my schedule, although I never allow myself to work on it for more then 15 minutes, so I won’t spend too much time on scheduling.