What Snow Days Can Teach Us

This winter was a great opportunity to observe the impact of snow days on our work and lives. It’s not surprising that people accept the slow-down that a big storm and unplowed roads impose on us. We understand when people cannot travel safely or predictably, and postpone meetings and deliverables. If reasonable efforts are made to take care of top priorities and do some contingency planning, no one gets criticized, blamed, and penalized. But this adaptability is very much the exception in our busy lives.

The widespread acceptance of a “Snow Day Slow-down” is a refreshing reminder, in our fast-paced, do-more, do-it-now culture, that the consequences of a delay are often not as costly as we imagine. During the rest of the year, we can – and occasionally should — find other legitimate reasons to slow ourselves down, and proactively manage the expectations of others accordingly. Sometimes it’s a quality versus quantity trade-off, or speed versus creativity. Decide when you would most benefit from a one-hour pause to catch your breath, get out of the weeds, and organize your thoughts and plans, or a “snow day” of solo, strategic work time – or personal/family time — that is protected from interruption. When we give ourselves permission to try this, we generally find that the benefits of clearer thinking and more focused energy outweigh any costs of delay.