FACT: It’s not slacking off when you’re at your computer at 5am to deal with the essentials of work before the lifts open, and back at it by 3pm until well-past-dinner to close off the deadlines for the day.
On blue sky and fresh snow days, I work what is essentially a split shift. Sure, I’m on my third run of the day with a mile-wide grin on my face on a Wednesday morning, but I’m hardly taking the day off. (I’m still answering your out-of-the-blue phone call on the chair lift, aren’t I?)
And for those who dare to question my ways, I’ll give you plenty of solid arguments that in the gig economy world, ski days and workdays co-exist quite beautifully. Did I mention that I was firing off email replies at 5am and will be filing a story well into the evening when the rest of the world is on its third glass of Pinot Noir?
As my own boss it’s my job to make sure that my employee — also me — is happy. Sometimes, when my boss senses I need it and the conditions are right, she sends me skiing.
To Nickel Plate Nordic Centre to sweat my way around the scenic tracks to let my unconscious mind do some of the puzzling that my conscious mind is merely circling around. To Apex Mountain Resort, a mere 60 minutes from my Naramata driveway to chairlift, to clear my mind on steep descents that require one-hundred percent of my attention. To Baldy Mountain Resort to the south, to soak up some vitamin D in knee-deep powder glades on the Canadian-US border.
Just like finding the right co-workers helps boost your productivity and work satisfactions, I’m lucky to have found the right co-skiers. We’re all entrepreneurs. We not only set our own hours, we appreciate how lucky we are to live in a skier’s paradise for a few months out of the year. Being on the same page with our need to be efficient with our time at play as much as our time at work means we’re on the hill for first tracks at 9am. And regardless of the fun we’re inevitably having, we’re clicking our skis off by 1:30 pm. That way we’re to get back down into the valley and settled back at our desks by mid-afternoon. Who cares if we work until 10pm? It’s about getting through our task lists, not punching a clock.
I will even argue that skiing has made me a better, more creative and efficient writer. I bounce story ideas off my ski buddies as we ride the chair lift, and they throw out story ideas that might never occur to me otherwise. I listen as they talk through work scenarios that are weighing on their minds and offer new perspectives as solutions. We’re basically acting as sounding boards to one another as we banter our way through our ski day. And that makes sense given the growing evidence in scientific literature that exercise and outdoor recreation stimulates creativity.
So next time, you’re creatively not seeing the forest for the trees, I suggest getting yourself into the alpine. It’s basically a co-work experience and the outdoor experience in one oxygen-rich package.
Jennifer Cockrall-King, author of Food Artisans of the Okanagan: Your Guide to Locally Crafted Fare and Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution, writes in Naramata when she’s not in the South Okanagan backcountry on her “vintage” telemark skis, or acting half her age anywhere there’s fresh snow and a chairlift.