Productivity is Attention Management

Here are some thought provoking paragraphs about how we can get our athlete children find a reasonable path to excellence. As a parent and person in a business or work environment you probably are aware of how important managing your daily time and tasks at hand are for your personal sanity. Try to transpose this important 'life lesson' to your soccer playing kids and you will see a better athlete. If we can assume that a growth mindset at USC Academy is one of the pillars in their philosophy and that the approach to excellence over success is intact, we should encourage our kids to be productive with their time management but more so to manage their attention. Productivity has less to do with time than it has to do with how much attention you give to a task.

As an example, here is what we can ask a parent:

"What makes you happier on the drive home at the end of the day - feeling that you earned every penny of your pay that day, or feeling that you "got over" on your employer?" 

And here is what we can ask our youth soccer player:

"What makes you happier on the drive home at the end of training session - feeling that you trained really hard to get better, or feeling that you 'got over' on your coach? "

Another parent quoted:

"I like competition. If there's nobody to compete with, I compete against myself, so to speak (I compare what I actually get done with what I'm capable of getting done). And I'm not afraid to occasionally lose that competition, as long as I know I gave it the best shot I could at the time."

Would it be nice to instill this thought into our players' mind?

Another quote by a business person states:

"I think people mistake being productive with being busy. There is a major difference between the two. We fill so much of our day with busy work and find ourselves at the end of day with nothing accomplished. I encourage you to daily list out what needs to be done and ask “is this busy work or is this productive work”. If you focus on this daily you will find that the things you wasted so much time camouflaged with production where truly irrelevant at their core. You will accomplish more than ever!"

Without doubt, this is true in sports as it is in business. An athlete can do an exercise 10 times a day, 6 times a week. But if he/she does not pay attention to detail (doing the exercise properly, not just going through the motion) and records the process and result of the exercise daily, so improvement is measurable, that exercise renders itself as a waste of time.

As a soccer player your goal is not just to be more productive in training — you probably want to be creative, too.

The stumbling block is that productivity and creativity demand opposite attention management strategies. Productivity is fueled by raising attention filters to keep unrelated or distracting thoughts out. But creativity is fueled by lowering attention filters to let those thoughts in. This is the reason why at USC Academy we pay attention to this issue during our periodization scheme. Creativity needs 'freedom' to operate in. We provide the environment where we give the players the time and focus to be creative. It is a fine balancing act between Productivity and Creativity.... Just as it is between technique and skill.

"Attention management is the art of focusing on getting things done for the right reasons, in the right places and at the right moments."