Sammy Davis - Community Blogger
Baseball is America’s past time, a clear sign of summer and the topic of this week’s blog.
Informative, of course!
Let’s take a look at how maintaining focus during a baseball game, can be used to keep your focus while running a non-profit organization.
On average a baseball game lasts 3 hours, 5 minutes and 45 seconds. An average season of baseball lasts 162 games. (Math time!) So, when broken down that is approximately 499 hours! A player’s game time focus is about 499 hours per season! An attribute of athleticism is the ability to remain focused when distractions occur. Players will be thinking about their last at-bat when out on defense. Obviously, that was is good, and this lack of baseball game focus leads to many errors in the field. Of course, maintaining focus from pitch to pitch and for entire baseball games is a great challenge many players face.
In the office, nearly 50 percent of the American workforce say they work for only 15 minutes before becoming distracted, while 53 percent report wasting an hour or more a day because of disruptions. From constant noise to overflowing inboxes to feeling fatigued or stressed, almost anything can cause people to lose focus. A non-profit organization has a lot on their plate. Staying focused can be tough with a constant stream of employees, donors, grants, emails, and phone calls demanding your attention. Amid the noise, understanding your brain’s limitations and working around them can improve your focus and increase your productivity.
Baseball has fifteen to twenty seconds between pitches, giving players’ minds much time to wander. Additionally, there may be many pitches without the ball put in play, which leads to additional time for players to take their thoughts off their responsibilities. In addition, of all the balls put in play in a game, few may come to some positions. On the offensive side of things, batters only bat once every few innings so it is equally easy to lose focus from one at-bat to the next. As mentioned, this “down time” presents a challenge for players.
Ultimately, the goal is not constant focus, but a short period of distraction-free time every day. "Twenty minutes a day of deep focus could be transformative," researchers and coaches alike agree.
Try these tips that are taught to the pros to help you become more focused and productive:
Pinpoint the problem. What causes you to lose focus? In baseball, the lack of “action” commonly attribute to players losing focus. Are yours fatigue, hunger, or a Twitter addition? Figuring out the issue is the first step towards trying to fix it.
Plan ahead. Players do this by warming up to prepare themselves and their bodies for what tasks are going to be expected of them. They envision and plan what each inning will bring to conserve energy and maintain optimum levels of focus. You can envision what the workday will look like before it happens. Write down what things need to get done or what you want to accomplish. (Even in the shower!) Setting goals can help people stay on track. In the non-profit world, some executive directors and board members are inclined to take a hands-off approach when it comes to strategic planning. They may simply lack the necessary time or interest to get involved. Or they may underestimate the significance of the task at hand and its potential impact on the organization. Must supervisors micromanage the effort or involve themselves in its every aspect? Certainly not. But their active participation— that is, buy-in that goes beyond mere verbal endorsement—is crucial.
Do smaller tasks. This step can be easily seen as players only take on one position and those positions are staggered throughout the defense and offensive fields of play. Some psychologists suggest our brain works way too hard to process incredible amounts of information. So, working on one large project can be overwhelming — like trying to plan a whole event at work in one afternoon. Split up projects, so they're easier to accomplish. Beginning a non-profit or moving forward can come with challenges, but don’t let the enormity of the topic intimidate you. It’s easy to dive into “what”, “why” & “how”, and find yourself back to the question that brought you to the discussion in the first place: Where do we start? Start small. Identify your top three questions and go find answers. Test your idea. You may fail, but you’ll learn from it.
Time box. Players have trained their brains to work this way, they understand that for the inning at hand their minds and bodies are in the game and it’s too late to work on mechanics or mistakes during this time. Trying to “fix” their errors of before can actually hurt your game. You won’t correct the problem in 20 minutes and you certainly won’t be able to ingrain the change in your memory. Work on one project for a specific amount of time, rather than working until something is finished. (Write emails until 2 pm, instead of stopping at an empty inbox). This way we know we can work hard until a certain time, and then be able to take a break.
Take little breaks. Getting to the office early, working through lunch, and staying late doesn't necessarily mean getting more stuff done. Short bursts of hard work followed by quick breaks can be more beneficial than never taking a breather, since the brain may just burn out. We see this in play during the “Seven inning stretch” and for the teams on offense. They take breaks, get refreshed while cheering on teammates who are up to bat.
There you have it. Getting through the day feeling focused can feel overwhelming right now especially in today’s digital environment, but before you know it tasks and projects will get done without fail or error even after the boys of summer have gone!