The 20-Second Timeout

The 20-Second Timeout is a key element of professional football. When things are getting especially tense, one team or the other calls a 20-Second Timeout. Everyone gets together on the sideline, takes a deep breath, discusses strategy, etc. Likewise, in our jobs or our personal lives taking just 20 seconds can make a big difference.

Imagine you are getting ready to walk out the door to meet some friends and see a movie. Before you do, you stop for just 20 seconds and think “Am I forgetting anything? Is there something else I can do along the way?” You might remember that you have to mail the electric bill payment and there’s a mailbox next to the movie theatre … Or that the last time you went to that theatre it was cold, so you should bring a sweater. Twenty seconds was all it took.

Suppose you’re getting ready to call a client about a proposal you sent earlier that week. You’re just about to reach for the phone, but you pause first to ask yourself if there’s anything else you can discuss with that client. You remember that she previously expressed interest in another product your company offers, so while you’re on the phone, you bring this up as well. “Glad you mentioned that,” the client says, and away you go.

Life in general sometimes gets overwhelming. Fears and concerns cloud our thinking. We barely know which way to turn or what task to tackle next. Taking just 20 seconds to clear our minds, see the big picture, and then re-evaluate can be extremely significant.

Why not take 20 seconds right now to experience how powerful this concept can be? Then make the 20-Second Timeout part of your game plan.


The above is used by permission from the book Three Years Of Tuesday Mornings: 156 e-mails about business and life by Steve Fales.

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