Marolt: Turning every afternoon into a Monday morning with a midday ski break
I think the biggest myth — OK, it’s actually a lie — that we tell people — OK, we actually tell ourselves — is that taking a ski break in the middle of a work day at lunchtime makes us more productive when we get back to work.
When I tell this familiar lie after a lunch hour spent chowing the pow, as they say, I am so earnest that I can’t help believing that I am brilliant for discovering this fun, exciting, and physically exhilarating way to increase my work efficiency. It is when I hear someone else claim it that I recognize it as sheer nonsense. I will not speak for myself. I know it to be a fact for everyone else, too.
For starters, if you are truly only taking your regularly allotted one hour for lunch to go up and take a run in the middle of the day, you are liar. The impossibility of this has been proven many times.
First, you need to head to the restroom to put on your ski clothes. I’ll grant you some leeway here because, in theory, you could combine this with a regular necessary bathroom break and make it nearly a neutral event time wise, even though the truth is that nobody does. In any event, at a minimum it takes five or six minutes to take off your work clothes and put on you ski duds and then stow your work clothes semi-neatly under the sink with everyone else’s.
Next you have to put on your ski boots. That’s another five minutes, unless you have the rear-entry models, which absolutely nobody who skis at lunchtime does. Allot another five minutes for gathering your parka, gloves, helmet, goggles and making sure you have your ski pass.
Now you have to grab your skis and poles and stumble down the stairs with everything. Then, and I don’t care how close you tell your old buddies still working in a skyscraper somewhere how close your office door is to the slopes, at a minimum your walk to the gondola is 10 minutes.
Check my math now. You are already halfway through your lunch hour and you haven’t even touched snow. And, before you do, you still have a 20 minute gondola ride up the mountain. That’s 50 minutes into your break before you click into your bindings.
Crap! Time is almost up! You get into your tuck and race to the bottom of the mountain without making a single turn while reaching top speeds of 80 m.p.h. Even still, it takes you three minutes. This leaves you with seven to make the 10 minute walk back to the office.
Once there you put your gear away, take off your boots, rush to the bathroom to get dressed for work again, hopefully in your own clothes. Don’t forget to comb your hair while it’s still damp from sweat or you’ll have noticeable helmet hair all afternoon, which makes it hard to convince your boss and clients about the “issues” you ran into, delaying the completion of their project.
All said, you are 20 minutes late from lunch and your ski day was nothing but a hurried mess of weirdness.
But, we all know it doesn’t really work like this. The truth is that your skiing lunch break ends up being a hell of a lot of fun and you get back to the office two hours later, at best.
This is what causes us to proclaim the phantom productivity gains: It’s guilt! And, yes, two hours of skiing does recharge the batteries and put you in a relaxed frame of mind. This is exactly how you feel at après ski.
This feeling converts every afternoon after a midday ski break into a Monday morning; you’re tired, you resent being at work and still want to be on the slopes, you feel compelled to tell everyone every detail of the latest best day of skiing all year, and it is nearly impossible to restart on any meaningful project, so you spend the rest of the day opening mail.
Let’s be honest. If skiing lunch breaks really were as much of a productivity booster as we claim, all of us working locals would retire at 45 with enough saved to buy a small vineyard in Napa or a nice sailboat. Who cares, anyway?
We have our skiing lunch breaks.
Roger Marolt enjoys a board meeting as much as anyone. Email at email@example.com.
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