– Summary: Most Americans spend our time in similar ways. Many of these decisions move us away from our goals, and knock us Off Our Game. Simple changes can help us achieve more.
(This blog is excerpted from Marcy’s book, On Your Game.)
When it comes to deciding what to do in any given moment, three things come into play: emotions, thoughts, and actions. What we care most about, and the target of the game board — the tool that helps us achieve more – is decisions and actions. Below I explain some key ways our culture can knock us Off Our Game, and what to do about it.
Decisions and Actions—What We Do
Most Americans decide to spend our time in similar ways.
For many of us, screen time is approximately 41 percent of our lives.128 This is an astounding portion. Even if we assume half of this is for work, that’s still a full 20 percent, or one out of every five minutes of our non-work lives, looking at a screen. Is this helping us achieve our goals? For argument’s sake, let’s assume it is. So, let’s dive in further. We’ll remove laptops and phones that can justifiably be used for all sorts of goal-oriented activities and will home in on other, less productivity-focused, screens.
Now then, the average American between ages eighteen and sixty-five spends between two and a half and almost four hours EACH DAY watching TV (2017)129. This is probably not meaningful, goal oriented time. It could, however, be part of the ever-so-helpful rest and rejuvenation that we all know is needed to stay On Our Game. But even then, two and a half to four hours each day? Let’s look at this statistic against the backdrop of our limited and ever-so-precious “free time.”
To put it in perspective, if we invest ten hours in sleep/personal care, and approximately seven hours per day working, we have seven hours remaining each day. Four hours of TV is almost 60 percent of that discretionary time, and almost 100 percent of our flexible time once commuting (two hours on average) and cooking/eating (two hours on average) are considered.
Mull that over. Almost 100 percent of our discretionary time is invested—not in pursuing our hobbies/interests/goals or socializing—but in passive TV watching.
Thinking more about those seven hours of “non-work time,” they can be invested in an expansive set of potential activities. Practically speaking, they could be invested in the commonplace—commuting, cooking/eating, exercising, socializing, helping family/friends, relaxing outdoors or with a book or game—or they could be invested the exceptional: hang gliding, kayaking, filmmaking, glass blowing, music writing, terrarium making, flash mob inciting, or politicking. Seems enticing indeed. Yet, four of these seven discretionary hours (for an average American) are invested in sitting in front of a television. This seems like an off-game decision.
That’s right. Our Current State Time Allocation looks a lot like a support structure (dare I say “cheering squad”) for the Busyness-Achievement Loop and Profession Versus Passion Loop we reviewed in Chapter 2. And it’s the reality for the average American. Perhaps it explains some of why 80% of respondents in my study say they’re off their game.
We are not carefully thinking through how we’re spending our time. We are not sustaining focus on our long- and short-term goals. Instead, as the Busyness-Achievement Loop explains, our decisions are more driven by momentary whims, and less by thoughtful planning.
If we are to achieve more, we must be disciplined in our decisions and actions. First we need to take stock of them, and then make sensible choices about what change is needed.
Attention: What We Choose to Focus On
Our decisions and actions are based on what we pay attention to.
Attention is our most precious gift. It is our tool, our weapon, and our controller. We create our lives through what we attend to (i.e., pay attention to). It is the substance of our feelings, thoughts, decisions, and actions.
The key questions are:
- What are we investing our precious discretionary time doing?
- How well are these choices setting us up to achieve our goals?
- What adjustments should we make to achieve more?
Also see sister posts for the other Off-Game Impacts from Culture:
1. Thank you for ignoring me. How our culture of separation knocks us off our game.
2. Are you working now? How blurred personal and professional time knocks us off our game.
Check out all 12 posts across People, Culture and Technology.
For a more thorough description, go to OnYourGame.Today, or buy the book.
Also see posts about how People and Technology can work to bump us of off our game.
As always, be in touch. We love to hear about your successes!
Send in game boards, stories or questions. Go to: OnYourGame.Today/Contact
128 “Reebok Survey: Humans Spend Less Than One Percent of Life on Physical Fitness,” Cision: PR Newswire, May 3, 2016,
129 Nathan Yau, “How People Like You Spend Their Time,” Flowing Data, https://flowingdata.com/2016/12/06/how-people-like-you-spend-their-time/.