What Board Games Can Teach Us about Time Management

Board Game
One of my dorky hobbies is playing board games. And one of the dorky things I pride myself on is my ability to teach new players the rules of a board game.

You may laugh, but it’s actually not that easy to explain a board game well – especially the more complicated strategy games that I enjoy. Many of the game manuals are a dozen or more pages outlining rule after rule after rule: phases and turn orders and contingencies and exceptions and scoring. If you’re not careful, it can get so overwhelming that a new player begins with no clue about what they’re doing.

My Secret

You know what my secret to game explanation is? I start by explaining how you win. I tell people the object of the game, whether it’s to get the most points or survive the longest or be the first one to achieve a certain objective.

Once you understand the victory conditions, everything else falls into place. I can then gradually outline the progression of the game, and the details fit a logical framework.

I’ve seen others try to explain board games by showing what you do on your turn and the potential actions that you can take. Or they’ll start by mentioning the cards and components and how they factor into the game. Those approaches are recipes for confusion.

Not Just Games

It’s the same in life. It’s the same in our time management. We first need to understand what winning is and what it looks like – and then everything else fits into place.

I don’t mean winning here in the sense of triumphing over others. Although board games are competitions, life isn’t. But I do mean winning in the sense of a goal you have that you are striving for above all else.

What one thing would you give it all for? If I win by having the most points in a board game, I couldn’t care less about how much money I have at the end of the game or how many cards I have in my hand when the final points are tallied. Everything is subservient to the victory condition. Every move and every single decision in the entire game is directed singularly at winning.

What would it look like for you to “win” in life?
What would it look like for you to “win” this year?
When you wake up tomorrow morning, ask yourself what winning will look like that day.

Don’t start off thinking about what you can do on “your turn” – don’t begin by looking at your to-do list or your available options.
Don’t start off by thinking about the “game components” such as your job or your wife or your kids or your church.

Figure out what it looks like to win. And then as you’re “playing the game,” remind yourself of this at every opportunity. Employ all your time, abilities, and resources in the focused pursuit of a win.

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