Recently one of my East Coast colleagues traveled to Arizona on business. The day she left home there was a snow storm. As a result, it took her three hours – rather than the usual one – to get to the airport. Then, on the day she left Arizona, another snow storm hit. Her flight was delayed by 24 hours, but when the aircraft finally took off, the storm still raged on the East Coast. The plane landed in Baltimore without incident, which was a minor miracle, but then it sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting for the snowplows to clear a gate for the plane. My friend was able to de-plane at last, but it took her four hours to get home from the airport because of icy road conditions.
We, on the West Coast, don't worry much about snow; it's brown landscapes in winter that concern us. That may be why, despite the horrific weather conditions snowstorms cause, some people living in milder climes are a bit jealous of those whose winters are white. I'm not just talking about school children who never experience snow days; I'm talking about adults who have to work when their counterparts elsewhere get time off.
When I think about it, however, I see two faulty premises. The first is that today, when so many work "in the cloud," snow necessarily keeps people from being able to work. The second is that those free of snow aren't allowed to have down time.
The colleague who was inconvenienced by two snowstorms managed to get a lot of work done while waiting for planes to depart or airport runways to be cleared of snow. She was able to do this because she had her laptop with her and wireless connections in airports. She also had fewer things competing for her attention, due to the weather, and more chances to rest and relax.
A significant amount of work was being done in places free of snow, as well. That was true in my case, but I have to admit I envied the down time I imagined my colleagues were enjoying in the midst of the snowstorms. My antidote for this was my own kind of "snow job."
That is, I imagined what my work day would look like if two feet of snow had fallen outside my window. I removed commuting time from my schedule; I made a list of tasks and crossed off items that would be impossible to tackle during a snowstorm; and I moved some personal projects – usually reserved for down time – to the front burner. Then I did the tasks I could do, followed by some personal things I'd been meaning to get to. It was the most productive and stress-free time I'd spent in quite a while – productive because it was stress-free.
Neither work nor play need ever be "snowed out." And if your personal snow job deludes you into being more productive and relaxed, then "let it snow" every day of the work week.
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