I’m having difficulty with time management. I have two boyfriends and I spend AT LEAST five days days a week trying to alternate between my boys, but lately they’ve communicated feeling neglected. It’s mostly due to poor prioritizing and energy spending (ex. with my introvert bf doing a lot of unavoidable events/activities). So I need to spend my time with them more effectively and make them feel more loved, but I also need to finally start making time for my family (no kids) and myself. Help?

There’s a lot here to unpack. First off, are your two boyfriends unwilling to spend time together? You may be able to reduce some of the need for “alternating” between them if you can cultivate a sense of cozy togetherness. Sometimes, that just isn’t on the table, and it’s okay if that simply won’t work for your poly network, but I’ve found that the extra effort and awkwardness it takes to cultivate is always worth it in the end.

Second, it sounds like organization and some extra attention to planning ahead could help smooth things out. Many poly people swear by Google Calendar, because you can see your partner’s calendar, invite them to events, and otherwise stay organized and connected. Make a Google calendar and invite your partners and your family members, and encourage them to use the system with you. You can mark off “do not schedule” time for yourself, too. That way everyone can see what everyone else is doing and figure out how best to schedule time together.

Third, setting expectations and priorities is key. Maybe you just don’t have enough hours in the day to give both partners and all family members they time they all want. That’s okay. Have that talk honestly and clearly, letting them know what needs you can and can’t meet for them, time-wise. If you’re going to a party with your friends, but your introverted boyfriend hates going to those, then he can’t spend time with you that night, and needs to find something else to do. Planning ahead helps with managing expectations: if the party is on your Google calendar or has otherwise been communicated to him in advance, he can plan around it and find another time to see you. 

I’ve often found that replacing “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time” with “it’s not a priority for me” can be a good perspective shift. If you’re struggling to make time with people close to you, make sure you’re prioritizing it well. I’ve found that a good way to do this is to have a standing weekly date with the same person at the same time every week, and then treat that standing date as non-negotiable. Say you make every Wednesday night a stay-in-and-order-pizza-and-watch-a-few-episodes-of-netflix night with your boyfriend. If someone says “hey, we’re going to see a movie this Wednesday, wanna come?” you say “No, sorry, I have a commitment then.”

This way, you aren’t trying to juggle conflicting invitations or figure out plans last-minute. (Same goes for taking time for yourself - set aside weekly time and refuse to schedule over it. Your relationship with yourself is just as important as your relationship with anyone else.)

Of course, if you end up with a conflict that really needs to be attended - a friend’s wedding, an interview for your dream job, being called upon to defend the White House from aliens - you can tell your boyfriend that you’re really sorry, but you have to reschedule. But make sure you do this rarely and only with super good reason. You shouldn’t make set-in-stone plans for every day of the week, especially if you’re a person who values spontaneity, but this can really help in relationships where one or both parties like to know what’s happening in advance and need to know the other person is taking their time together seriously.