WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JUL. 14, 2014
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What Can We Learn From Added Minutes In Soccer?

With the World Cup coming to a close, regardless of what team you were backing, there is one thing we can all rejoice in; the beautiful game has grown in popularity throughout the states and lessons can be taken from what was seen. If you are not familiar with soccer (football for our international friends) there is likely a great deal that you were trying to understand as you watched Tim Howard make records in saves against Belgium. The most confusing aspect of the game, to my friends at least, is the added minutes at the end of each half.

What Is Added Time?

In soccer, time doesn’t stop for any reason. Injuries, water breaks, penalties and any other stoppage of the game is added up by the referee and placed at the end of the half as added time or stoppage time. The confusing part is that the time is never an exact amount. A ref may add 3 minutes and the game will go to 93:23, instead of stopping exactly at the 93 minute mark. There are a number of reasons for this, but they matter little in your work and college life. Instead, the idea of added time is important.

When a team is behind and they see that they have around 2 minutes left to save themselves with a goal, a fire erupts in their bellies and they play like men possessed. If you saw the U.S. game versus Portugal, you may have noticed how much harder Portugal played in the last few seconds of the game. The whole idea behind this added time is that the players don’t know when the game will be over, so they can’t just burn the clock. Unlike American football where a winning team can simply take a knee to run things out, soccer players have to play their hearts out to ensure the score doesn’t change, or get that last goal they need to win, or tie the game.

What Does This Have To Do With Work?

With all of that said, how does it relate to your normal tasks in life? How many times have you sat and stared at the clock for the last minutes of your day. Waiting for the time to come where you can leave is actually an extremely wasteful way to spend your working time. Add to that the amount of time you check the clock throughout the day, and the wasted time really adds up over the course of the months and years.

There is no added time at the end of the day though. You know exactly when you are leaving. So you need to get creative to give yourself that final push. When I have large projects, with specific times where I am done working, I simply grab a post it note and stick it over the computer clock. This ensures that I’m not looking for the closing bell, and instead working as hard as I can every minute to be successful each day.

Putting it into Practice

To overcome the issue of not knowing what time it is, you need to use the tools you have at hand. If you are allowed, simply set an alarm on your phone to go off at key times throughout the day. Try using it similar to added minutes and set the alarm for a random time before you actually head to lunch or are done for the day. Maybe set the alarm for 8 minutes before lunch time, then another for lunch time itself. That project you are working on will go by much faster when you aren’t watching the clock.

When you give yourself a set amount of time left in your studies or work, but don’t actually watch each of those minutes as they pass by, they will go by quicker. You will also find what task can be completed in about the amount of time that is left in your day and you will get some wind in your sails to knock it out. Early in my career I would look at how close it was to quitting time, see a task that would take about 15 minutes at my current pace, and decide to hold off until the next day to complete it. When I started to set my alarm for 10 minutes before the day was over, I was all of a sudden finishing that 15 minute project (correctly and in a way that was appreciated by my supervisors) in the time I had allotted. Out of nowhere I became a king of efficiency and had an added boost at the end of a long day.

There Is No One Right Way, So Find Your Style

You will have to experiment with the style that works best for you. You may need to use your email calendar as an alarm, or find another way to make things work, but once you start embracing those last few minutes of the day, and stop watching the clock, you will find yourself ahead of your tasks instead of falling behind. The change is really surprising.

 

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