What Does the Super Bowl Have to do with Time Management?

By studying the game of football, you can learn a lot about how to set and achieve goals and spend your time more productively.  What does time management have to do with Super Bowl football? Everything! Football pros competing in the Super Bowl use great goal-setting techniques. By studying the game, you too can learn a lot about how to set objectives. Successful football teams devote a great deal of thought and time to planning how to move the ball down the field. And successful people devote time to planning what they’ll accomplish in business and in life. Ask the coaches who’ve led teams to the Super Bowl. They know you can’t win without a good game plan.

The term “SUPER BOWL” describes nine components for making touchdowns in your life:

S = Specific. Progress in football is measured a yard at a time. Similarly, you’re wise to measure your progress toward a goal in numbers, percentages, milestones, or dates. “Learn software program” isn’t specific, but “Spend five hours a week learning software program” is. “Lose weight” isn’t specific, but “Lose thirty pounds at one pound a week” can be measured by simply stepping on the scale. “Make more calls” isn’t specific, but “Make five new outbound prospecting calls a day” is.

U = Us. The quarterback doesn’t attempt to score by himself; he hands off the ball to other players. Individual players can’t win without help from their teammates. Reaching a goal requires an entire team of people to be accomplished. You’ll experience limited success if your department or family doesn’t buy into your goal, so understand your strengths and know when to delegate pieces of the task to others. Where can you save time by passing the ball to others qualified to do the task?

P = Plan to succeed. Top teams don’t go out and just start playing. They prepare, plan, and study the playbook. They determine in advance what will be effective and how to spend their time. Similarly, don’t tackle a job without drawing up a plan of attack. List all the steps it will take to execute your plan in a logical sequence. Each night, draw up your plans for the next day so you are focused and purposeful.

E = Effort. Teams get to the Super Bowl through effort, not luck. Yes, you might reach your goals through sheer luck, but the odds are much better if you work hard. Injuries can put the very best team out of the playoffs, so players put effort into staying healthy. Scoring a touchdown isn’t easy, but it’s attainable with effort. Similarly, your goals should challenge you without being unrealistic. Don’t set yourself up to fail, but do force yourself to stretch. When you experience success at reaching “stretch” objectives, you gain confidence. Also know when to take a time out and rest, so you don’t burn out or get fatigued.

R = Reward. Players have unique ways of celebrating a touchdown—through a gesture, a dance, even a back flip. Have a plan to celebrate your accomplishments, too. You’ll stay motivated to work toward your objective when you know the rewards. The vision of earning a Super Bowl ring keeps players pushing toward that end. What will be your reward once you’ve accomplished your goal? What is exciting enough to make you want to shoot for it? A vacation? A massage? A round of golf? Rewards can also be intrinsic, such as increased self-esteem, more confidence, or the pleasure of a job well done.

B = Belief. Football players have a burning desire to win, and so should you. Have confidence in yourself! Picture yourself in the moment you achieve your goal. Determine how you will feel. Use positive self-talk and hear what others say when your goal is achieved. Enlist your friends and create your own personal cheering section. Your fans help you maintain your enthusiasm, and you’ll rise to the level of your own self-esteem. When you’re having a slow day, call your fans and ask for encouragement.

O = Obstacles. Teams spend a lot of time studying the competition and determining how to beat it. What obstacles do you face when working on your goal? What might prevent you from obtaining it? Consider early in the process what could go wrong, then put contingency plans in place and anticipate problems before they occur.

W = Written. Many people dream about what goals they want to accomplish, but few actually write them down. Coaches don’t have all the plays memorized; they refer to their playbooks. Written objectives are tangible and concrete. Make them uplifting and phrase them in a positive way. Review your progress at regular intervals and track it as you go. For example, measure your weight each week, summarize your sales calls every day, or determine how many pages you wrote each day.

L = Limits. Football games have four 15-minute quarters, a framework in which players have to succeed. Break your goal down into manageable pieces with well-defined start and stop dates. Many goals will have multiple action steps, each with a target date. Don’t think of a project as a 10-hour task; think of it as 10 one-hour tasks. A goal is a series of first downs—mini-goals that help you see your progress and keep you motivated.

Remember, you don’t have to move 100 yards all at once. Take small steps toward your goals every day or every week. Get moving, and you’ll soon feel the positive effects of the change. And every little bit of change can lead to long-term healthy habits, which last far beyond the Super Bowl party!

© 2007 Laura Stack.  Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, professional speaker, and author who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time™. She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training company that caters to high-stress industries. Laura is the bestselling author of the books Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004).  Her newest productivity book, The Exhaustion Cure (Broadway Books), hits bookstores in May 2008.  Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and 3M.  Contact her at www.TheProductivityPro.com



  1. Hey Now Laura,
    Interesting Post.
    Thx 4 the info,