Each time Kirk Cousins steps to the podium, we learn a little bit more about the Redskins' starting quarterback and what makes him tick.
This week, Cousins revealed that he uses a digital to-do list to ensure that he stays on task.
This, however, is no ordinary to-do list.
It’s a spreadsheet. Broken down into 15-minute increments from 6 a.m.—9 p.m. Seven days a week. It’s also color-coded—a feature Cousins seemed particularly proud about.
“I’m dead serious," he said. "I color-coded every 15-minute increment with what I’m doing.”
Effective, efficient time management is critical to success in most professions. And Cousins figured that out—quickly—once he was named the starter back in August.
But Cousins didn’t create the spreadsheet simply because he’s organized and meticulous (which he is). He did it for a couple of more important reasons, as well: No. 1) it reduces the amount of mental energy he expends during the weekly grind and No. 2) it forces him to focus on what’s important while eliminating time-consuming distractions.
After all, there’s no column on the spreadsheet labeled ‘time-consuming distractions.’
“I think developing a weekly rhythm and a weekly routine enables you to turn your brain off and just go through the routine as opposed to having to say, ‘What’s next?’” Cousins explained on Wednesday, asked how his game preparation has evolved during his first season as a full-time starter. “So, at the beginning of the year I just sat down and made a spreadsheet of every 15-minute increment of my day for all seven days of the week and color-coded [it].”
The reporters in the room began to laugh. Cousins, unfazed, continued.
“I said, ‘Alright, I’m in the cold tub at this time,” he said. “I’m eating lunch at this time. On Mondays, it’s spend-time-with-my-wife time.’ I had it organized and the first few weeks you had to get used to that but now in Week 16…14 games in, you have it down to a science and you have a routine where you can just turn your brain off and just go because you know the routine and the schedule. Obviously a short week changes that a little bit but I think going through that as a starting quarterback enables you to develop a rhythm that then can help you operate at your best as you go through it.”
Playing quarterback in the NFL—at a high level, at least—requires attention to detail. And there a few things more detail-oriented than Cousins’ daily schedule.