The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure. – Henry David Thoreau
Do you remember when, as a child, you prayed for a school snow day? I can remember sleepily staying glued to the radio to listen for my county to be named. The TV would have an agonizingly slow crawl along the bottom of the screen listing every school closing or delay announcement in alphabetical order. If you missed the “A’s,” you had a long wait. Augusta…Albemarle…yeah!
For those of us who grew up in snow, school snow days were one of our first exposures to the idea of the “entrenched routine” being interrupted. We didn’t call it that…all we knew was that hot chocolate and dry clothes would be waiting for us after playing in the snow.
If you live in the path of the blizzard, and still have power and internet access, do a quick poll of your friends: Among those whose offices and shops were closed, how many of them had a bona-fide few days without work this weekend? And how many of them worked from home?
I’m guessing very few of you actually had this weekend “off.” Maybe you made an agreement with your bosses beforehand that you would work from home due to the nastiness outside. Or maybe your company has an official policy “encouraging” employees to work from home when they can’t make it into the office. Many farm owners still worked. They said to themselves, “Well, I can’t work the ground…but I can get something done.”
Whatever the case, for many people, a day that would in 1995 have been spent watching the snow pile up against the windowsills, hanging out with the kids, or vegging out with daytime TV, or working at the sewing machine or craft table was instead spent hunched over a laptop. In 2016, snow days are often not a windfall of free time, and the lines between work and home are blurred. We have all read and heard a lot about work-life balance and how off-kilter it is.
It used to be that a snow day turned the world upside down. For the next 24 hours, none of the usual rules applied: no waking up early, no sitting in class, or at the office desk. No commuting to and from school, work and activities. It was always weird to look out the window at 2 p.m. on a Thursday, not just because the world was blanketed in snow but because it was so easy to forget that, at 2 p.m. on a Thursday, anything but school and work actually existed.
The grown-up world has a tendency to strip things of their magic a bit, but the snow day still served as a wonderful stop sign from the heavens for overworked adults. What else could grind to a halt, even temporarily, the exhausting, striving adult world of meetings and reports and office memos? What else could not only suggest to the workaholic that he take a day off, but force him to because the roads were too icy, the subways all closed? What else could unite adults and kids on a sled on a snowy hill in the middle of a weekday?
In a world that forces us to inhabit our roles as workers ever more intimately — one in which time actually off from work has been shrinking for decades, where it’s easy to forget that there’s more to life than what it says on our business cards — snow days were one of the few remaining excuses not to be a worker for a little while.
But what about if you love what you do? Did you lovingly hear the weather reports all week and think: “Yes! I will have hours and hours of uninterrupted time to focus on my dreams and goals?” Did any of you find that ‘extra magical hour’ somewhere in the middle of all the snowflakes and use it to further your dreams?
Each day is a gift and we all get to chose what to do with the time we are given. Oh sure, we still have to walk the dog, shovel our paths, check on our family and cook the food, and even with work and all that surrounds it, the truth is there are ways to make a snow day hour or two come to pass with each and every day. We likely won’t see three day weekends or four day school weeks, so we have to invent and invest in ourselves, and in our dreams, each and every time we can.
There a hundred different things we all wish we could do with our lives someday — anything from exercising to meditation or yoga to writing that novel you always wished you could write to reading more, to relaxing and watching the sunrise. But we never have the time, like most people.
The truth is, we all have the same amount of time, and it’s finite and in great demand. But some of us have “made” the time for doing the things we love doing, and others have allowed the constant demands and pressures and responsibilities to run their days. It’s time to move from the second group back into the first. Reclaim your time! Create the life you want and make the most of the free time you can find! It’s not hard, though it does take a little bit of effort and diligence.
Take my life, for example: there was a time, not too long ago, when my day was packed from morning to night, as a mom running carpools, attending meetings and long to-do lists, and working long hours. I had little time for myself and almost no time to relax.
I’ve always wanted to exercise, but never found the time to do it daily. I’ve always wanted to travel more, but I was too busy with work and home. I always wanted to write my story, but there has never been time for that. You get the drill: I’ve always wanted to (you fill in the blank) but work comes first, right?
Wrong. I finally got smart and decided that my life is my own, to do with as I wished, and so I took a time out to decide what I really wanted my life to be like. Then I designed my life, and made a series of decisions and steps to get my life to what I wanted it to be. That life is the one you see me living at LTD 7.
Today, I wake up early and greet the day with excitement. I have opened two stores and I thrill to the many things this entails for me to do every day. My plans just keep growing. My life is what I’ve always wanted it to be, because I designed it to be that way and worked to make that design come true.
It can be that way for you, to the extent that you’re willing to make small changes. Even if you just want to free up a little time for a hobby or for doing something relaxing, you can do that. It’s all about finding that extra hour, our own personal “snow day” — the hour that lives inside each of us.
What would you do with an extra hour a day?
Living the Dream,
The Adult Snow Day