The Weekend Ritual That Keeps Me Connected to the People I Love
About six months ago, my elder brother, who now lives overseas, called me. We greeted in our usual way, then he said to me, “You just dey, like say you no de,” in our Nigerian vernacular, which translates loosely to “We are not connected like we used to be,” or “You don’t even reach out to me anymore.”
I giggled, feeling defeated, because I know I have been the over-busy one who hardly tries to reach out to people all in the name of “I have too much work on my table.”
Before this, because of the difference in our time zone, we texted one or two exchanges on WhatsApp before either one of us went back to work. It wasn’t hard to notice our texts, which typically lingered for several hours before a reply was too superficial for any meaningful discourse. We had not scheduled a time that would be comfortable for both of us to be all in and talk.
I had received a similar complaint from my father, but I didn’t take it seriously. You and I know parents can be overbearing sometimes. But now that it was coming from my brother, I had to take it seriously and do something about my relationships with friends and family.
When my brother dropped the call, I thought about my friendships and noticed a similar pattern. Someone calls or texts me. I try to cut the conversation as short as possible because I want to be productive with my time. The person senses my aloofness, and probably never calls or texts back. I don’t call back either. And even in my free time, I forget to call because I am addicted to playing chess or watching a movie when I am not writing (I am currently on “I may destroy you,” by the way).
Deliberately Schedule a Time to Connect
As in everything, one needs to make a deliberate effort in order to make any lasting change. David Allen, in his book, “Getting things done”, suggests we get things we wish to do out of our heads to a paper or digital to-do list. Unlike a regular to-do list, David suggests, we not only write what we wish to do but also write how we wish to accomplish them. When we resolve to do something just in our heads, our brains continually bring them up, and as long as the activity remains undone, it zaps some of our mental energy. We focus less on what we are currently doing and ultimately diminish our productivity.
So I tried to get this out of my head as a first step. I brought out my phone and went to my Note app, where I write my thoughts, to-dos, and whatnot. I wrote my plans to call a few people and probably meetup (where necessary) every weekend, going forward.
It is no news that our brains are poor at remembering. That’s why we have reminders and to-dos. And yet, some of us do not use these tools. My contact list, I thought, is a great tool to help me remember people I may want to connect with. As a rule, I spend one to two hours on the weekend calling and talking to friends and family. I go from A to “as far as time permits” on my phone contact list.
Sometimes I come across contacts I didn’t know I still have, some I can’t remember the person it belongs to, and some whom it has been ages since we spoke. I do not necessarily call everyone on my contact list. My contact list reminds me of the people I know as I cannot trust my brain to put them on the front line of my memory.
The weekend is a great time to reconnect with people because it is a resting time for most people, and there is a greater chance of both parties having the time to talk or hangout. For people who work on weekends, you can schedule a call in their free time, which should also be put into writing to help the memory. That is the power of deliberate effort.
I have noticed a significant improvement in the depth of my friendship with people. Because the time I call is already earmarked for calls, I am more focused on having meaningful discussions, unlike when I randomly remember to make a call in the middle of an activity or when I have to pick up a call in the middle of work.
You may already have a routine that keeps you connected with people you care about and one that works for you, or you may want to use your contact as a guide to connect with people during the weekend like I do. Either way, keeping it as a routine is key to consistency, and it relieves the brain of perpetually deciding on when and whom to call.
There is somebody out there who probably wants to hear from you.