Daily Routines of Road Warriors

When you travel do you see all your normal life-giving daily routines go out the window? That’s what I experienced for years as I traveled. In many ways, travel energizes me, but poor management of my daily routines wore on me. Here’s what I did about it.

I travel a lot for speaking engagements and workshops. Usually, for a week at a time. Each place I travel to is new to me.

One thing that is constant is I’m always busy when I’m on the road. I often lead workshops that require me to be “on” from 8:00 in the morning to 7:00 at night. By the time I’m finished with dinner, I’m tired and tackle the emails that have built up over the day. My normal routines conflict with this schedule.

I find 3 daily habits to be life-giving, but quickly dropped when on the road:

  1. Connecting with family.
  2. Spiritual input.
  3. Exercise.

Exercise and spiritual input is easily shoved aside in the unpredictable nature of travel and busy schedule of working on the road. My family lives on without me with little connection due to conflicting time zones and schedules. As a result I felt guilt, lethargy, with a growing waistline.

Worse, I was not at my best when I needed the physical and emotional energy the most.

I asked many “road warriors” for advice. For the most part I just received their empathy as they struggled with the same things.

How To Get Control of Your Daily Routines on the Road

Although it’s difficult, you can get control of your daily routines while traveling. I did. And so have others.

The breakthrough came when I changed my expectations. I shifted my attitude, formed realistic expectations, and increased my self-discipline.

1. Have A Plan With Realistic Expectations

I didn’t realize I was such an “all or nothing” person until I tried tackling daily routines on the road. I kept thinking, if the hotel had a gym I would exercise regularly. In my mind I eliminated all other forms of exercise because they didn’t fit my ideal. And of course, I stayed at hotels with gyms and still didn’t work out.

I came up with many different plans, but they all had one thing in common: My expectations were overblown. I kept trying to recreate my routines just as they are at home. This is impossible. There are too many variables that you cannot control.

The goal is not to do your daily routines exactly as you do them back home.

The goal is to do something more than what you’ve been doing. If you’re doing nothing, then anything is better. Don’t let your ideals keep you from doing something that will move you forward. Be pragmatic and positive.

Here’s what “something” looked like for me as I developed on-the-road daily routines:

Exercise: What could I do 100% in my room with no equipment?
Think old-school! Stretching, push-ups, planks, and deep-knee bends. Doing 2-3 sets of those four things infused me with energy. (See my article: The Surprising 3-Minute Workout That Gets Results.)

Spiritual input: What could I do in a few minutes in the busy morning?
Before checking emails (that’s the key to the whole morning routine, by the way) I pulled up the Bible app on my phone and read a Psalm and a chapter from one of the Gospels. I said a prayer reflecting on what I just read and listened for a few moments. The result of just these 5 minutes was centeredness and awareness of God that I carried into the day.

Connection with Family: What could I do that would increase my connection with my family while I am away?
Morning is always busy, so I began to writing daily emails to my wife with a few highlights from the day. I used the date as the Subject line. When our timezones are radically different, I will often find a reply with highlights of her day waiting for me in the morning. For the kids, a text message asking about their basketball games or funny Facebook photo does the trick. If the timezones line up, I’ll Skype or phone to say hello.

2. Be Disciplined

Even the simplest, most flexible plan will fall apart if you are not disciplined. You can make this easy or hard on yourself. Make discipline easier by first committing to your realistic plan. Here’s the commitment:

“I will do what it takes to do my daily routines because the results are worth it to me, my family, and my customers.” Say it. And keep saying it.

Next, prepare to make the choices that will allow you to accomplish your daily routines. Know what will get in the way and make a plan to overcome it.

“Don’t even turn on the television unless you know specifically what you want to watch,” shares XOJet pilot Doug deBruyn. “Otherwise you’ll get sucked in and waste the whole evening.”

For me, it’s getting to bed early enough to wake up and have 30 minutes for my daily routines. Once I’m awake, I can tell you, working on emails is the torpedo that sank most of my good intentions. I overcame this by adding to my plan time to process emails. There are more email tips in this post.

Are you ready to make a plan for your daily routines on the road? Ask yourself the 3 questions above. Make a commitment and prioritize your time. You’ll be glad you did.

Question: What are your daily routines on the road? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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    8 thoughts on “Daily Routines of Road Warriors

    1. Thank you, Keith for zeroing in exactly on the three most important things that tend to go out of the window during travels. Your ideas have prompted me to start thinking about what I could/should do. Thank you!

    2. I downloaded the 7 min workout app and use it everyday at home, in hotel or guest rooms to coach my physical exercise. Haven’t found another sustainable routine for all circumstances

    3. Thanks Keith for this post. Here’s my little tip:

      To stay plugged-in with God during my travels, I try to treat my flying time as an “extended personal retreat time”. I would raise my hands up high in worship, with my favorite worship songs from my phone. People would think I’m stretching, which I need too on a long flight =) And yes, it would mean choosing to turn off, or be very selective with the video-on-demand, as it can often be quite distracting.

    4. Great ideas Keith thanks. One thing I have been doing which has helped is take my wife on a date a few days before I leave for a trip and schedule a date a few days after I get home. The stress of the day before and day after travel is hard on our marriage so we try to plan accordingly.