I’m a big American football fan. Primarily the NFL, but I’ll watch the CFL and college ball from time to time too.
But Sundays are my big football days, the days where I’ll watch my favourite team (the Cincinnati Bengals – incidentally also Todd Henry’s favourite team) play from September until early into the next calendar year. I’ll even get caught up in other games involving the Seattle Seahawks because they are technically my “home team.” This year I’ll likely find myself watching Vikings games as well because their new coach used to be the Bengals’ defensive coordinator.
Yet I still manage to keep the chains moving on Sundays because I have structured the day in a way that allows me to indulge in my hobby – which is clearly a very passive hobby – and still be productive. So when I mentioned on Twitter that I decided to order the NFL Sunday Ticket this year, I received the following question from Joel C. Louis:
Make no mistake, being productive on Sundays during football season wasn’t something that just happened. I had to really look at how I could make everything work and compromise very little in the process. In the end, I came up with a workflow that has allowed me to score “productivity touchdowns” on any given Sunday.
1. I Keep on Capturing
My trusty Field Notes notebook is close at hand every time I watch a game. I grab my Nock Hightower case that contains a notebook and three writing utensils (the Fodderstack would work if you’re using index cards of a notebook) and have it at the ready. In fact, I’ve noticed that my Sunday notebooks tend to fill up the fastest because my mind is more relaxed during games, which is when my ideas tend to come to me more often.
I have my mobile phone nearby, but I rarely use it during the games themselves. Same with my tablet. Instead, I use those during halftime and pre-game warmups. Since I live on the West Coast, games start at around 10 am. So prior to watching the games I go through my usual morning routine and then go right into the first game (which would more often than not involve my Bengals). Then I get the halftime break and a short break between games one and two, allowing me to either transfer items from my notebook to a more appropriate long-term solution (Evernote for ideas, Todoist for tasks) using The Strikethrough System I employ.
I want to make sure I don’t drop any passes or fumble anything that comes to mind, so capturing is critical – no matter what day of the week it is.
2. I Focus on Low Energy Tasks
There is no chance I will give tasks that require a great deal of focus what they need during a football game. So I don’t allocate Sunday for those – at least not at times when football is on. Remember – games wrap up here around 8 pm every week, so I still have a portion of the evening to knock some higher energy tasks out if I choose.
I rely heavily on my Low Energy filter in Todoist on Sundays because it not only tells me what low energy tasks I need to accomplish today, but also over the course of the next 5 days. On many Sundays, I can knock out a lot of these types of tasks both efficiently and effectively. Examples of these types of tasks include:
- Most email responses: Some email responses do require more energy, but I’d say that 60% of them don’t in my case. I can get through a ton of low energy email responses during a game. Occasionally I’ll even pause the game if I need to.
- Scheduling social media posts: Again, not a lot of energy needed here. I’ll simply go into Buffer and schedule some articles to share over the course of the week ahead.
- Noodling around with apps to review: I’ll start to play with some of these apps on Sunday because it’s a fairly low impact activity for me. I won’t write the review or flesh out my ideas on the app when I do this, but I will take notes and get somewhat familiar with it so that it expedites the process when I do get down to the actual review process.
- Emptying my inboxes: Since I’ve set up my frameworks in email, Evernote, and Todoist, I know where most inbox-based items should end up. During games I’ll move tasks and ideas to the appropriate Evernote Notebook or Todoist Project, or will go through Dispatch on my iPad (scaled up, of course) and process my email inboxes to zero as well. I’ll also add tags to my Todoist tasks and Evernote notes where needed. These are all fairly low energy actions for me, and while they may not be for you right now they certainly have a chance of becoming so in the future with consistent activity.
The other benefit of working on low energy tasks during football games is that I can’t use them as crutches or “procrastinatibles” during my work week as often because all I have are normal and high energy tasks to contend with. That means my Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays are not only productive but productive at a much higher rate of return. It’s like I’m executing a high percentage running attack on Sundays where I am dealing with short yardage situations so that on those other days I’m able to really make the big plays that result in big gains.
3. I Work in Quarters
Sundays are the days where I come closest to mimicking the attributes of The Pomodoro Technique. Why? Because I tend to tackle different things in quarters.
Some Sundays I’ll focus on dealing with email during the first quarter of a game, social media updates in the second quarter, transferring of tasks and ideas in the third quarter, and mapping out aspects of my week in the fourth quarter. It’s as if each quarter signals a shift in what I’m doing so that I can maximize my time and manage it as best as I can. Other Sundays I’ll take each quarter and work on aspects of a particular project or area of responsibility. I’ve given myself the flexibility of doing this on Sundays because of the reliability of the systems and framework I’ve created.
If you’re a fan of The Pomodoro Technique, then this could be the perfect way for you to kickoff your progress on Sundays during football season because it’s familiar and proven to work within your own trusted approach.
4. I Make the Tough Calls
On some Sundays, I’m very happy that I have a PVR because I just can’t watch the games I want to watch. Whether it’s because I’ve got too much on the go that requires a higher level of focus and energy or something comes up that throws a wrench into things, at least I know that I can record what I want and save it for later.
Saving the games for later also means I need to exercise restraint and not check out the scores online. That takes willpower, something I’m no stranger to. On the occasions where I can’t watch the game in one sitting, then I make sure I steer clear of the online world, meaning I focus my attention on my writing, my task manager, email, and anything else that doesn’t require social media or sports news sites. The great thing about using a task manager and theming my days and week is that I often know well in advance if I need to make the tough call and not watch a game live or if I can do something in the present to ensure I can catch the game when it’s live (or shortly thereafter).
So while I do sit in front of my television for several hours on Sundays, I certainly don’t sit there idly. Even though I’ve got a lot on the go, I’d say that it’s because I’m such a big football fan that I’ve made sure I set things up so that I don’t miss out on game day. And if you’re a big fan of football and want to take it all in on Sundays from early September until the new year (or Saturdays if you’re a NCAA fan), then you’d be wise to set things up so you can do that without losing valuable yards on all the productivity penalties you’ll be given if you don’t.