So, you might be thinking: “Any 21st century road warrior worth their salt knows how to stay connected. You’ve got your smartphone (maybe two), your tablet, your laptop. How hard is it to stay connected?”
Yeah, with all of the tools we have it’s not that hard. But that’s not what I’m talking about. The topic of today’s installment in my mini-series on the Mindful Road Warrior is how to stay connected with people (the three-dimensional kind, not the faceless pixels on a screen kind) when you’re away from home base frequently.
My interest in this stems from personal experience and from my belief that relational routines -- along with the physical, mental and spiritual routines that I discuss in Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative -- are vitally important in both showing up at your best and getting the outcomes you hope for at home, work and in your community.
Keeping your relational routines strong can be a challenge when you’re traveling for business. The process of getting there and back, the hotels, the long hours, the time zones and such are all challenges to staying connected with the people you care most about as well as the people you meet along the way.
Here are three relational routines that I practice when I’m on the road that have been working for me over the past year. Like most good routines, they’re pretty easy to do and make a difference. I would love to get your tips as well. What relational routines work for you when you’re in road warrior mode?
Text Ahead: Most road warriors phone or use a video connection like FaceTime to connect with home when they’re away. The challenge is when the folks on the home front are busy with something else (like homework, an important call, working out or cooking dinner) when you buzz in. That leads to distracted conversations that aren’t very satisfying for either party. I’ve found this to be particularly true when I’m two or more time zones away from home and my operating rhythm is different. My solution? Text ahead. A simple text -- is now a good time to call? -- can set you up for a much better conversation.
Wish You Were Here: When I’m in a new place and see something interesting or an old place that has special memories, I’ll take a picture and text it to one of the special people in my life. It’s just a simple way to connect and say I’m thinking about you and wish you were here. It’s nice when they send pictures to me too.
Take Extra Time: When you’re on the road, you have brief interactions with all kinds of people you’re probably never going to see again -- the flight attendant, the hotel clerk, the maid, the taxi driver, the restaurant server. You have options here. You can keep looking at your phone or stay preoccupied in some other way or you can make eye contact, offer a smile and take a little extra time for a conversation. As I’ve been on the road more, I’ve been taking more time for the latter. It definitely makes me feel better and, most of the time, I think it does for the other person as well. Most human beings are happier when they feel a connection. Why not spread a little happiness when you’re on the road? Just because you’re a warrior doesn’t mean you have to act like one.
What are your favorite relational routines that help keep you connected when you’re on the road?