Sport Imitates Life – What Game Are You Playing?

Pop Quiz – What percentage of time is the ball in play during a professional tennis match?  I was curious since I’ve been watching U.S. Open tennis tournament matches all week.  Luckily there is plenty of downtime during a match.  It’s easy to get work done while watching, like right now.  Wow, great shot!  When the announcers raise their voices I pay attention.  Using the DRV to zip through a match, stopping to watch the crucial few deciding points is also a good viewing strategy.  Tennis really does imitate life, a topic for another day.

Do you have an answer yet? I looked it up and was a little surprised.  Then I became curious about other sports.  Same question, what percent of time is the ball (or puck) actually in play?  Here’s what I found through some quick internet research.  I do not vouch for its complete accuracy.  Let’s just say it’s approximately right.

  • Football – 5% (11 minutes over 3.5 hours)
  • Basketball – 32% (48 minutes over 2.5 hours)
  • Hockey – 40% (60 minutes over 2.5 hours)
  • Soccer – 75% (90 minutes over 2 hours)
  • Baseball – 10% (18 minutes over 3 hours)
  • Tennis – 17.5% (37 minutes over 3.5 hours)

So, what the point?  There is a lot of wasted time in sports.  I’m sure there are arguments to be made to the contrary, but let’s pretend there aren’t for now.  I was actually shocked to learn that my favorite to watch, football, is a 95% waste of my time.  My spouse was thrilled to know that.  I should have saved that fact until after the upcoming season…ugh!

Now the big question – What sport does your life most imitate?  How much time do you keep the ball in play?  Translation – How much time are you spending on the important things in life?  Those things that matter to making the world a better place for others.  I hope you have been tracking that time by playing saintball.  We started out with the beginner game where you subjectively label your daily activities as either valuable or waste.  Or you took the easy route and only tracked wasted time and called all the rest valuable.

My early tracking showed that I was spending 39% of my time on valuable activities. Hockey, not bad comparatively.  But wasting 61% of my time on earth is pathetic…embarrassing really.  So, I kept tracking and vowed to do better.  I set an 80% value goal.  I rarely achieve it but am now averaging 65%, big improvement.  That gets me 40 of 50 available saint points daily:-)

Over time I was able to get more specific about what valuable uses of time were for me.  By analyzing what I was labeling as valuable in my daily tracking, I was able to group them into categories.  They eventually fell into four, plus two others that together served to capture all of my time.  They also happened to fit into the areas of focus that time management experts typically espouse; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  Here they are:

  • Pray – or meditate, or do whatever helps you relax, reflect upon your life and vow to improve.
  • Learn – be a lifelong, continuous learner.
  • Act – take planned action daily to make the world a better place for others…fulfill your mission.
  • Youthify – yes, I made this term up. Keep yourself young – healthy, energized, active, positive.  Meet your physical and emotional needs.
  • Everything Else – just what it says.
  • Rest – Sleep well. If you keep your time percentage high in the first four, you will.

For you acronym lovers, the categories spell “player,” as in player of the game of life.  The valuable categories are “play,” as in let’s have some fun striving to be the saints we are all meant to be, and solving all the world’s problems while we’re at it.  Why not?

Now that I had the categories, I set a daily time goal for each.  My thinking went like this:

  • I’m at my best with 8 hours’ sleep. Rest – 8 hours
  • I should spend at least as much time on action as I do sleeping. Act – 8 hours
  • Surely I can give God at least one hour a day in prayer. Pray – 1 hour
  • I have a lot to learn in order to achieve to my new mission. Learn – 2 hours
  • I need to keep myself healthy and energized. Youthify – 2 hours
  • The balance of my 24-hour day goes to Everything Else – 3 hours

Then I did my daily tracking.  Of course, I needed to invent a new worksheet, remember I’m a CPA who likes structure and order.  My band friend Steve knows what I’m talking about, play it Steve.  My band friend Ron is horrified.  Anyway, I call it the PLAYtime Tracker.

Check it out and give it a try in the upcoming week.  Set your daily time goals in each category and see if you can achieve them.  For extra credit, make a plan for how you are going to spend the time you have allocated.  Then make them a priority by actually putting them on your schedule.

And here’s a challenge for you.  If you are working, you will be tempted to count all work hours as valuable, in the Act category.  Here’s the challenge – Ask yourself the following two questions:

  1. Is everything you do in your work making the best use of your talent, and helping to improve the world in some way for others?
  2. Would your customers, those who ultimately pay for the product or service you provide be willing to pay for everything you do if they knew about it?

I have an interesting statistic for you on the second question.  Based on studies, only about 5 percent of the work in any business is value-added, that is, has a direct benefit to the paying customer.  A world-class manufacturing company might get to 20 percent.  There are all sorts of reasons for this, some legitimate and others not so much.  Ignore that for now and just evaluate what you do based on the strict interpretation.

If your percentage is low, join the crowd.  The purpose of this challenge is not to make you feel bad about yourself, it is simply to get you thinking about the value you are capable of providing to the world.  Once you know what that value is currently, you can make changes that are within your power to more fully realize your potential value.  And you might get a raise too, hey you never know:-)  Try it.

I’m now trying to imitate soccer in life, the 75% sport.  It really isn’t my game, but I am going to get a ball and start learning as a reminder.  Let’s see if an old dog really can learn new tricks.

Have a fun, safe and saintly Labor Day weekend all!

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