Many of us have had at least one Snow-day thrust upon us this week. Inconvenient for some, a delight for others, the snowy conditions can give unexpected benefits. When the snow comes down, roads become dangerous, schools close down and we can be forced to shift gears from the usual pace of daily life. Although it might be unwelcome for many people, having a snow day can slow us down. But could slowing down actually make us faster?
Like many people, I’ve endured my own snow day(s) this week. I say endured because the first day of snow was something of a novelty. It turned out to be a very productive day, working from home, without interruptions or commuting time. Now on day three, the regular clearing snow off the drive in biting Siberian winds, only to be replaced by more snow within minutes, is starting to feel a bit like the fate of Sisyphus and his boulder!
As a child, a snow day promised a world of wonders: a day off from school, sledging, snowballs and snowmen. All sounds pretty good. As an adult, a snow day now means rearranging meetings, delays and some frustration. But perhaps I ought to be less miserable and embrace what a snow day has to offer.
Too busy to slow down
Many people have ever increasing to-do lists and never enough time to get through them. Research suggests that the UK has some of the longest working hours in Europe.
Similarly, the feeling that the pace of change and work is speeding up, is a common feature of daily life.
But when snow arrives, everything slows down: trains, planes, automobiles and people. But perhaps there are benefits in slowing down. For those who can work from home, not being at your desk can mean fewer interruptions and more productive work not to mention a much easier “commute”.
Changing the Pace
Sometimes it pays to go slower. In fact, the act of slowing down might actually make us go faster. Its not a new idea. Racing drivers have spoken in the past about how “slower is faster”. An article in The Huffpost in an article applies this to the workplace, highlighting the benefits of taking the time to do things diligently.
Perhaps there are concrete benefits to be had from slowing down. Many of us may have first hand experience of increased errors from going too fast. Slowing down can mean not missing anything and taking time to ensure the details are correct. But perhaps there’s even more benefits to slowing down?
The Bonus of Unplanned Time
How often do we have the opportunity or time to sit and think? Many of us may have books we’d like to read, podcasts to listen to and TED talks we’d like to watch. But when is there ever the time?
If a snow day means we have to slow down, then perhaps its also an opportunity to think, reflect or work on our own learning.
For many people, snow isn’t always a winter wonderland. We can never trivialise the serious nature of extreme weather. There’s nothing calming or reflective about travel problems, getting stuck in your car overnight, flights being cancelled, power cuts or even problems just staying warm.
But for those who are safe, warm and with power, a snow day can give us the benefit of extra unexpected, unplanned time. The only question remaining is, do we use that time to catch up on work, reflect, learn or maybe just build a snowman?
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