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Is The Snow Making You Drive Below Your Pay Grade?

I have always thought that cancelling appointments because it was snowing was a sign of weakness and been very conscious that my personal brand couldn’t allow me to be perceived as “snow wimp”. As a result, I have always gone out of my way to make sure that the weather never prevented me, to quote the Post Office, from the “swift completion of my appointed rounds”.  

Last year during one of the many rush hour blizzards it took me two hours to drive what would normally be a 30 minute journey, and I had plenty of time to think about this attitude. As I crawled in traffic I realized, with crushing certainty, that going on that appointment wasn’t a mark of weather independence, but something that broke every Time Management rule I routinely preach to my clients. 

As this realization dawned on me I felt as though I should stop the car and fetch the hat that I keep in my trunk – the one that says “take my advice I’m not using it”. The weather made that singularly difficult to do, so I spent the rest of the journey thinking about Time Management and blizzards instead.

The central tenet of my Time Management philosophy is that you must identify the value of your time when you are working on your most productive activities and increase the amount of time you spend working on those activities. To do that you need to 

·Set aside blocks of quiet time to work on your most productive activities  

·Ruthlessly eliminate activities where you are “working below your pay grade”

Keeping an appointment on a day when the driving time will be exponentially greater than normal comprehensively flouts these principles. It is, essentially, driving below your pay grade.      

Not only did I waste an hour and a half driving because I didn’t want to appear weak in my client’s eyes, but I also gave up the opportunity for some unexpected quiet time to work on some key things. To make it worse, that quiet time would have been of unparalleled quality. Very quiet time indeed. Have you noticed how quiet it is during a snowstorm? How nobody calls or e mails? 

They’re all too busy driving!    

This means that a blizzard is a wonderful opportunity to use your Prime Time to generate value for your business during a period when interruptions are easier to shut out than at any other time.  It is a golden opportunity to work on those Platinum Activities that add the most value to your business – things like goals, plans, marketing strategies and so on that seem to be so difficult to accomplish during the regular work day.

The epiphany I had during that journey will help me in the future. I’ll never tell somebody I can’t make an appointment because I don’t like driving during a snow storm. What I will tell them instead is that I can’t come because I value my time too much to spend extra time driving. I’ll figure out a more elegant way to put that, but that’s exactly the sentiment that I want to convey.