There is charm in the winter season that I do not find any other time of the year. Three elements define the winter experience for me: bare trees, cold weather and scant daylight hours. The winter terrain has a stark, pared-down quality. My vision widens; I see things through a leafless landscape that stay hidden for most of the year.
But beyond waxing poetically about darkness and cold, what does winter mean to me professionally? I like to take advantage of those long days indoors to really “clean house” both mentally and physically. Winter is a great time to sort, organize and catch up on reading and reflection. Read below my tips for winter survival and plan your winter focus.
May all of you have a wonderful holiday season full of good cheer, good health and peace. See you in 2013!
LET IT SNOW
By Alice Waagen
I attribute my love of the four seasons to my childhood growing up in the Northeast, outside of Buffalo NY. Each season had its own distinct feel but none more than winter, which weather-wise would start mid-October and extend through April. We were advised to winterize our cars in a tone that suggested that there would be a trial by storm. Even though I have not lived in that climate for many decades, I find myself returning to winter-preparedness thoughts this time of year.
Winter in a cold climate is survived by following some basic rules. I find these rules work for me today in planning the early part of the year for my business. Here are my favorite Rules of Winter for Business:
- Always Keep a Stocked Pantry – Every fall, my mother would stock up on canned goods, paper products and supplies for the inevitable days where travel outside the home was not possible. This December, I focused on what I need in my business “pantry” that will enable me to be productive if kept off the roads this winter. I stockpile articles, books, and research work as my canned goods for the brain.
- Always Have a Plan B – I try to book meetings and events in January and February to not start before 10:00 or end after 4:00. That will keep me off the roads early and late in the day. If I need to start a program early in the day that is any distance away, I’ll book a nearby hotel room for the night before. If the meeting or program is critical, I’ll suggest that we pencil in an alternative date in the event that weather causes cancelations.
- Have a Pile of Winter Projects Ready to Go – As a child, my mother kept a special box of toys in the attic which we could play with if kept indoors long enough that our regular toys got boring. I am planning now to spend time on researching new interactive activities, looking for new and powerful videos and current thoughts to use in my workshops to liven them up and make them more meaningful. This is enjoyable work that I rarely have time for the rest of the year.
- Get Equipped to Get out and Enjoy – As a child, no matter how severe the weather, we would bundle up and get out in it. My mother was a great believer in the curative powers of “fresh air.” I likewise believe in getting out and enjoying the cold and bracing air of winter. It is easy to fall into hibernation mode in the winter, staying indoors and limiting interaction with others. I see this as the somewhat dark side of telecommuting. It is certainly wonderful that when roads are bad, workers can stay in their homes and continue to be productive. But I am hearing more stories of employees encouraged to work from home 3 to 4 days a week. I now wonder if we are not going too far the other way and keeping folks indoors and out of the “fresh air” of professional human contact. Too much isolation certainly limits the possibility for the stimulus and synergy of face-to-face interaction.
My Rules of Winter for Business share a common, critical purpose: they lead me to plan and prepare for the few weeks every year that can be the most disruptive. No one can control the forces of nature, but by formulating plans and processes to keep myself productive and focused, my stress levels go down. Then I can look out my window without regret, walk in the snow and enjoy the winter rather than fretfully wanting it to be spring.