Your Workday is a Hoop Game
Sure, sure there’s more sports-to-business analogies than Steph Curry shoes sold this season, but with the Golden State Warriors in the Finals for the second straight year, I feel it deserves a Dubs-themed refresher. With that, your work day just became a hoop game. Trade your button-up for a jersey, and your work wedges for some hightop sneakers. It’s game time, and here’s how to play:
First Quarter (8am-10am) The game is just warming up, so it’s key to set the tone for the day. You need to find your tempo and find it early – the speed and rhythm of output that produces your best work. Your tempo is visible too, it’s like watching the Warriors run a series of fast breaks and you catch yourself saying, “They’re in the groove." You can’t control external factors, like whether a pressurized time-sensitive task will find you with the urgency of 4 levels of upper management, or if the refs look the other way on a handful of reach-in fouls, but you can control your tempo and your reaction to external factors. Have a plan for the day and match your strategy to it, then find your tempo and execute.
Second Quarter (10am-12pm) Great coaches and managers preach focus for a reason. When the caffeine of coffee #1 starts to wear off, a friend texts you about a music festival next weekend, or if an ill-place, yet undeniably adorable, puppy finds its way to your LinkedIn feed – do not break focus. All those elements will be waiting for you on the commute home or lunch, and coffee is readily available. Fill up if needed, but resist the urge to side-step your daily agenda.
"Success is when preparation meets opportunity” was said by someone much older and wiser than myself, and it’s still true in 2016. While the occasional break is encouraged, preparation nor opportunity comes from checking your Facebook app or counting IG likes, so don’t waste your working hours in places that don’t help check off items on your daily agenda.
Calling time outs: Even Coach Kerr needs to reset his guys from time to time. A quick 7-0 run for Lebron James or seven consecutive no’s from prospect cold calls all deserve a time out. Take a walk for water, give Instagram videos attention, text your friend, whatever. Point is, keep it short and keep them in check. Kerr calls them whenever he needs, and so should you, but even he only gets 4 per half.
Halftime (12pm-1pm) This is your lunch break and your chance refocus and recharge. If you like to socialize, do that. If you like to walk around the block, do that. Me, I like give Twitter and LinkedIn some love, decompress for 15 with colleagues, and maybe run a quick errand after eating. Rarely do I actually take a full hour, so long as the decompress and refocus occurs, I’m ready for the 2nd half.
Regardless my choice of anything-but-sales activity, I always regroup and look at my list of what absolutely needs to be accomplished today to make it a “win," and allot time to get it done. Then back to the grind.
Third Quarter (1pm-3pm) Major key alert: the day is half way over. This is a relieving, because it means we’re that much closer to that beautiful Friday at 5 o’clock feeling. It also means time is running out, and urgency is key.
For busy or hectic days, it’s the 3rd quarter I select a "Ticket to Leave.” This is the most important thing (or two) that must get done for me to leave the office, even if it means overtime, or working past 5pm. The strategy behind this ticket is to forcefully prioritize what’s most important and urgent, plus prevent busy work or easier tasks to steal and keep my attention.
Fourth Quarter (3pm-5pm) "Crunch time,” “leaving it all on the floor,” and "giving it everything we have” are all phrases tipping the hat to execution. It’s easy as hell to put on headphones and let Spotify mixed with causal internet searching burn the last remaining time until freedom is granted at five. Chances are no one will know, and you peers probably won’t care if they did.
But you’ll know. You’ll know when you’re on your commute home or when you reflect on the day as you cook dinner, that you didn’t give your all. 99 is not 100; and thought leaders, top sales reps, creative leads, and proven executives don’t leave work to be done the next day. That’s not how greatness is built, and you’re destined for more than mediocrity.
Overtime: Steph isn’t getting a bigger bonus at the end of the year because 9 games went to overtime. He’s getting a bonus because he made it to the playoffs, the outcome of his hard work and resulting victories. Same goes for you; no one cares if it took you four hours after work preparing for a prospect's presentation, if you showed up at 6am to complete the quarterly marketing results, or if your retention projections required working through lunch all week – the only thing anyone is focused on or remembers is the outcome.
A factor of success is adaptability, and with that means extra time in the office – I’m not denying that. But I also don’t believe that it should take you 9+ of daily office time to be successful. Nor does that typically adhere to a healthy work/life balance. Make a game plan, executive against it, then enjoy your daily victories.
What do you think of the this playbook? Share your best plays and how you stay focused with me in the comment section, or give me a shout in <140 characters at @TheReederCo. Also check out HMNI.io for other self-development and business-related articles.