Stop wasting your time – you never know how much you have left

It has been wonderful in the last couple of years on my podcast, The Brain Booster, to get the opportunity to have conversations with some of the world’s leading experts in coaching, psychology, physical training and skill acquisition.

Many of my guests have been incredibly generous with their time and the desire to share knowledge on this quest we all have to become better golfers or, indeed, better coaches. Ed Coughlan from Cork was a recent guest who has some wonderful ideas around the field of skill acquisition and having a mind-set of possibility when it comes to learning.

One of the tremendous ideas Ed talked about which really resonated with me was what he called ‘Project 168’. A very simple but brilliant concept.

But what is the relevance of 168?

Well, in any given week we have only a maximum of 168 hours. This is the same for everyone – nobody gets more, nobody gets less. The critical key, as Ed pointed out, is how we actually use those 168 hours.

If we are truly honest with ourselves, do we really make the most of the time we have? How many hours do you let slip just looking at your mobile phone screen? How much time do you waste on the internet?

There is nothing wrong with some downtime if you are busy, but how fulfilling is it when we waste our precious free time?

It is so easy, especially at this time of year, to let another 24 hours slip by without really making any progress to what is truly important to us. The weather turns and the nights draw in and it often feels the hardest thing in the world to even create the energy to get out of the house.

A starting point is to grab a pen and paper – along with a dose of honesty pills – and sit yourself down and be really truthful with yourself about the time you waste on a regular basis.

What do you do consistently that really does not add any value to your life but has just become a habit?

We are all guilty of this. We all fall into the comfort and the familiarity trap. For many professional athletes, how they use their time is all planned out for them as they will have a coach who they can sit down with and really map out effective training strategy.

For the vast majority of us who are not professional athletes we have a tougher job because we have to self organise our own schedules and how we use our time.

You may have a very limited amount of time to spend working on your golf game, but let’s say you have two of those 168 hours in a week when you could go and do some practice. What would be the absolute best use of an hour to really push your game in the right direction?

Could it be that up to now your practice sessions have been less than productive? How much of your practice does actually transfer into effective play on the golf course? Does the practice you do really stretch you or are you just pretty good at smashing fifty balls into the blue yonder?

A great game I have found to be effective and a wonderful use of time is called ‘Functional Three’. You get 30 balls and you line up 10 of your clubs. You then have to hit three functional shots in a row with a particular club to a target. If you do, you move on to the next club.

A perfect score would be all 10 clubs with 30 shots. You will not do it, I promise you! However you can see how many ‘clubs’ you can get through in 30 balls.

It is a tough game and it can be very frustrating, but it is a tremendous use of your time and the game gives you a pretty good idea as to the state of your game.

Depending on your level of play you may want to start with short irons first and the move up the set. If you are a lower handicap you can go with the different clubs completely at random.

Nick Faldo once said: “Golf is not about how good your good is but how bad your bad is!” This game will show you exactly that.

Above all else though have ponder about the 168 hours you will be gifted this week and what you are going to do with them. They are absolutely precious and we waste them all too readily.

We all need to be reminded that all of us have a finite number of these hours left. We just don’t know how many.