At first glance, structure and creativity seem to be like fire and water, enemies that can’t co-exist. But my experience on the football pitch has taught me something completely different.

“For me, planning ahead on the training field and beyond the sidelines is the key to creating space for my creativity.”

My experience on the pitch shaped my entire personality and especially my attitude towards business life.

My experience on the pitch shaped my entire personality and especially my attitude towards business life.

Structure: an athlete’s attitude

My favorite to-do list has always been my football training plan, which I created only for myself. Ticking these boxes was as important as my school homework. I always wanted to be the best on the pitch, especially because I played against boys. To stand out, I observed my football idols and practiced their tricks in the backyard of my parents’ house. But the most important points on my football to-do list were the ‘boring’ basics, like endurance runs, sprints, coordination exercises, ball control, passing and shooting.

“The advance planning enabled me to fully concentrate on the pending training task in each session.”

On the pitch I could focus on solving the game situation rather than dealing with a lack of skills. I let my creativity flow and played the unexpected pass or a smart assist. Obviously I wasn’t loved by my male opponents. They could never deal with getting nutmegged by a girl.

If you want to shine on the pitch you have to do the donkey work first.

If you want to shine on the pitch you have to do the donkey work first.

How to nutmeg every business challenge by having a plan

I’ve learned from my football passion that a firm and reliable baseline is the key for making room for creativity and using it in a meaningful, effective way. Being structured is an essential principle in business life.

“By perfecting the basics I create room in my head for ideas, and my thoughts can fly out of the box.”

I don’t have to waste my energy on essential skills, because they are there, I trust them and can rely on them. The second learning I took away from my sport is that to-do lists help you to stay focused. By noting down your tasks and giving them priorities, you are able to remove them from your consciousness. You can concentrate fully on new tasks with more energy and space to allow you to make up your mind and find the perfect solution.

Finding balance between different work streams and deadlines can be tough sometimes. Free yourself by developing a meaningful structure.

Finding balance between different work streams and deadlines can be tough sometimes. Free yourself by developing a meaningful structure.

Don’t get lost in the crowd

A logical result of working with such a structure is that you feel less busy and more relaxed when dealing with complex tasks or with many tasks at one and the same time. A clear route or gameplan can improve performance and avoid you getting lost in a disarray of tasks, topics and to-dos.

Making to-do-lists in a fun way will help you find your perfect workflow.

Making to-do-lists in a fun way will help you find your perfect workflow.

Creating a structure is not rocket science: you should be your own boss when it comes to your individual project plan, working structure or to-do list. Some people like to use apps or software to manage their tasks, others match them with their corresponding deadlines in a calendar or they just take a piece of paper and a pencil and write them down.

“Whatever your plan looks like, it needs to feel comfortable and be part of your everyday life. Then you’ll have found your perfect structure style!”

How do you use structure to nail down your tasks?

Leave a comment or write us on LinkedIn or tweet @GamePlan_A and @Eisfuechschen.

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by Stefan 24.02.2016
Hi Nina, I really enjoyed your blog post as I do with so many other articles here on this blog. I am a huge adidas and football aficionado. If I don't religiously follow about the Beautiful Game, I read and listen quite a bit to self-improvement articles/books, and podcasts respectively. I believe, you would enjoy David Allen's Getting Things Done book. I highly recommend that to you and the unofficial app Todoist that implements that methodology so user-friendly. Let me know what you think and feel free to connect with me on Twitter (@StefanSchmager) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/stefanschmager). Keep up the great attitude and good luck on the pitch! :) Best, Stefan
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by Nina Weihrauch (Moderator) 07.03.2016
Hi Stefan,

thanks for your comment. I am happy to read that you enjoyed reading my story and that you're as passionate about adidas and football as I am. :) It sounds like you're also an athlete in the office, which is really great! Keep up your attitude as well.

Thanks for your recommendations, I will definitely have a look at them!

Keep on reading and sharing your inspirational and helpful thoughts on our blog!



Best,

Nina
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by Tommy Walker 26.06.2016
Hi Nina, Just wanted to say what a fantastic article and a simple, highly effective philosophy which has been also the very bricks of the foundation that I have built my own coaching & training sessions on. First time I have read your blog via my LinkedIn and it will not be the last, excellent! Kind regards - Tommy Walker
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Nina Weihrauch
Nina Weihrauch | Editor Tommy Walker 27.06.2016
Hi Tommy,

thanks for your comment. I'm super happy to hear that you like my approach and the way I approach being creative.
You give own coaching and training sessions?! Sounds interesting. Can you tell me a little bit more about it? I'm convinced that tackling work life with an athlete's heart makes me better in everything I do. Do you agree? Looking forward to hearing more about your mindset and your approach.

High five,

Nina
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