“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.” — The Doctor
Not just as poly people, but just as humans, our most precious resource is time. When we have multiple people we love deeply and want to spend time with, managing that resource becomes critically important. As poly vixen Shira B Katz likes to say, the poly mating call is, “Get out your calendars!”
I, and several of my partners, use Google Calendar. We can view each others' calendars and see when we're free because we can all sync up. Keep your calendar up to date! That way you and everyone you have authorized know when you're free. The occasional, unexpected free day you see in your partner's calendar could be a nice extra date!
Another tip for me, if you are in a live-in/primary type relationship, put your home days on your calendar, too. I have had miscommunications with partners because a blank day on my calendar was actually a day I was spending with my wife or my daughter. Eliminating the ambiguity is important. If you have something on the calendar from 8-12, and then 4-9, where are you between 12 and 4? Make sure whoever is depending on you knows if you are just killing time rather than stopping in at home.
In my poly circles and relationships, we segment our time in weeks: How many times a week can someone and I see each other? Until recently, most of my partners have been once a week dates. Occasionally we'll get two days in a week, but those are exceptions, and I'm not counting events or parties or double dates. Once a week of “us” time.
I have had relationships with partners who were just as busy as I am, and there have been times when that scale becomes monthly. So we'd see one another at parties and poly events but our alone time could only happen once or twice a month. I admit, those are very difficult to maintain for me. I am constantly worried about being “out of sight, out of mind.” Without that time investment, I feel unimportant.
Every relationship needs its upkeep. Time together is just one part of it. I don't know what I would do without unlimited texting. I use Google Voice for texting since I can text on the computer, in a browser, with my full keyboard, so I can bang out texts like instant messages. Big time (and thumb) saver. And if my phone is unavailable or dead, I can keep on texting.
The biggest component to relationship upkeep, though, is respect. Respect your time. Respect your partners' time. Nobody likes to be held hostage by someone else's schedule. Granted, busy poly people are busy. Things come up, and when emergencies happen, someone's time needs to be cut short. But frequent cancellations are not something I can tolerate. I have too many other people hungry for my attention and too much respect for them for them to constantly have to be the consolation prize. I don't have a strict rule or boundary on it (miss three dates and you're done, for instance), but I will provide warnings before it gets excessive. That sort of attitude toward me is just something I am not able to tolerate.
If you are the kind of person who needs you-time, remember to schedule that, too. There is nothing wrong with putting your own name on the calendar and taking some time for yourself. Me, I am not big on down-time. I get stir crazy and need interaction and entertaining. A few of my own partners are a little distance away, and I do get a lot of decompressing done in the car. One of the downsides of not scheduling myself a lot of self-time is that when I am home on a Saturday, for instance, my wife and I nap away half the day in warm, cozy snugglings. And I love those times, the cuddle naps are some of my very favorites, but who wants a lot of the time you are spending with someone to be spent sleeping?
Expectations in scheduling are very important. Reaching the point in a relationship where there are standing date days, or minimum days during a week is a big deal! Everyone needs to be on the same page. Clearly, one cannot have three partners who all demand three days a week. There simply isn't the time. It's okay to have “I'll see you when I see you” partners, and it's okay to have tighter expectations than that. My wife and I, for instance, have a certain number of home nights for each other that don't include other partners.
I have made tremendous mistakes in managing my time. I recall one week last year when one particular partner was demanding more time of me, and I thought I had everyone properly scheduled and straightened out, but I actually forgot someone! Mistakes like that make me feel terrible, and I corrected it, but then it ended up that with one minor correction, three people got slightly unhappy.
Remember: your time is not only your own. Minutes, hours, evenings given to one partner mean that time can't be given elsewhere.
My platonic friends are suffering from my busy schedule. I try to make time for them, too, but I admit to selfishness here. If I am choosing between sitting around at Starbucks geeking out about cars and video games, and having a romantic date followed by hot sex… More likely, I'll choose the girlfriend. Sorry, dudes!
Time management is easily summed up in one of my big poly rules: Don't be a dick.
Find out what your partners expect from you, what they want from you. Once you know, make it happen! Don't take your partners' feelings for granted. Show them respect. Tell them what you need. And definitely, definitely don't be a dick.