Sean Van Staden
Columnist
2 minute read
10 May 2014
2:30 pm

Master your time and you may just make it

Sean Van Staden

Before we can get going with the top tips to increase your productivity, you need to understand what productivity means through the eyes of an elite athlete.

Sean van Staden

Think of the words “professional” and “elite” as a status reserved for athletes who have really made it on the international scale. The Federers, the Bolts, the McCaws of the sporting world.

Do you think for one minute that they have more time in the day than you do? Do you think their lives are any less easier or less stressful than yours? The pressures of a star don’t come in ones and twos but rather mountains. The higher you climb, the more the world watches you and wants to be a part of you and your magic, ultimately taking away the precious time you have.

Let’s back up for a minute. If professional and elite athletes have the same amount of time as you do and technically also a lot of stress and demands from life, that’s what makes them special.

Keep the focus: Life is all about priorities. If your sport means so much to you, then you need to clear the other clutter in your life. I agree, this is not an easy task, but the quicker you get your mess under control, the more you can focus on what really counts.

Top elite athletes understand what is important and dedicate quality time to it.

Start by making a list of all the areas that take up your time and then rank them according to two criteria: Is it important, and how much time it takes to get rid of all those activities that are low on your priority list and take up most of your time?

Quality, not quantity: What do you think? If Federer decided that he wanted to serve 2 000 times a day for the next month, the only thing he would get out of that experience is tennis elbow, hip imbalances and an overuse injury. You can’t wake up one day and say you want to conquer the world without actually understanding what you are getting yourself into. Once you understand your game plan, you need to set your quest for mastery. The younger you are means that you have more time to master your skills.

Find the shortcuts: The sooner you realise how to do the tasks your coach or trainer wants you to do in the shortest possible time – with excellence – the more efficient you will become.

Playing sport does not involve hiking up the mountain. It’s about seeing the gap and taking it to the top, only to get there and proceed to parachute off the mountain back to ground zero.

Professional and elite athletes look for the most practical way to get the job done. It’s not about them being lazy and cheating the system, it’s about efficiency and then the high level of intensity applied to the efficiency.

It is safe to say that productivity doesn’t mean more time, it in fact means quite the opposite. The sooner you master your time, clutter and efficiency, the greater athlete you will be.