What I Learned During the Polar Vortex of 2019

Presence, Productivity, Self Awareness, Work Life Integration
02/13/19 - Teague

Congratulations on surviving the polar vortex of 2019! If you didn’t experience the sub-zero temperatures and feet of snow, consider yourself lucky. Since we’re nowhere near the end of winter, here are my recommendations for the next time you’re working through a bout of bad weather.

quote to help us forget about the polar vortex. it reads "in spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; on in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself." - Ruth Stout

number oneUse your commute for good.

I used to have an epic drive to and from work – it was so extreme that I would routinely hear gasps when I told coworkers where I lived. I also absolutely hate driving, but there were no public transit opportunities available to me. This was a bad combination! I quickly learned to make the best of my commute and was able to put this skill to use as I spent time stuck in snowy traffic over the last week. Utilizing podcasts and audiobooks helps me to work on personal development even when trapped in my Honda Civic (and driving is the only way I can focus on listening to something). For our entrepreneurs, I highly recommend The Pitch by Gimlet MediaSide Hustle School, and RISE by Rachel Hollis to help stretch your creative muscles.

number 2Get clear about work-from-home expectations.

As Nicole mentioned in her last letter, remote work is on the rise, though this isn’t yet a standard for every employer. If you’re unsure about how to handle work when the roads are bad (or if your children don’t have school for the third day in a row, or your car dies because it’s so cold…), ask! Some employers are willing to make exceptions based on extraordinary circumstances, and we saw a lot of that happening over the last two weeks.

Some basics for sporadic remote work:

  • Make sure you have an Internet connection and can access all necessary documents and computer programs (perhaps you can use your home computer, or you’ll need to take a work laptop home)
  • Stay in contact with your team (sending your cell number out as the day begins and staying logged onto any Skype/Slack/Messenger programs is helpful)
  • Communicate what you’re working on with your boss (so she knows you’re not just sipping tea and watching the snow fall).

number threeUse found time to focus on what matters.

In the case of bad weather, things tend to slow down around the office. Perhaps your coworkers are deemed non-essential and don’t need to come in, or customers are unable to make their appointments. When you find pockets of quiet time during these chaotic days, make use of them. I was able to get some work done on a long-term project since I finally had some uninterrupted time to focus, and I was able to thoughtfully check-in with some of my newer team members about the growth I’d seen in them lately. Last but not least – I called my grandma. Talking to her is always the highlight of my day, and I loved escaping to the break room and taking in a peaceful view of snowy trees while laughing with her and making sure she was safe at home.

Cheers to knowing that warmer weather will eventually come our way again – but until then, leaning into the coziness and slower pace that winter can bring.

cozy polar vortex setting with a blanket, a chair, flowers, and a beverage.

This week’s challenge

This recent wild weather has me considering the value of hygge – I certainly can’t pronounce it right, but I know the concept is all about embracing the freezing cold (instead of fighting it!) and giving yourself what feels good and cozy throughout the winter season.

What else are you fighting? What current state of being would be easier to accept instead of resist? I’m not talking about monumental issues that deserve advocacy, but smaller ones – like hating your commute, or dreading your email inbox. This week, identify one aspect of life you’ve been dreading to accept – and then lean in and embrace it.

We know you want to learn more. Here are some of our favorite additional resources:

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