I am 100% guilty of not making my priorities a priority at times, especially while we were in season as coaches. I would get into the office and then get busy doing other things and would tell myself that “I will do it later.” I would fit in a few minutes in here or there on my big things, but at the end of the day, I would leave the office with a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction because I knew that I didn’t make any significant progress on things I felt would make my program better.
Can you relate?
It is really easy to get lost in all of the details of what we have to do (or get to do depending on how you look at it) day-to-day. No matter what level you coach or how successful you have been, we all have program changing priorities that need to get worked on and we have maintenance tasks. As one example, obviously recruiting quality student athletes is vital to the continued or future success of your program. Recruiting is and always should be a priority, so we need to find a way to give it the time it deserves.
As I have been reading about and applying different time management techniques over the two decades, some methods have worked better than others.
Here are five most effective things that I have done to make time for program changing activities. Depending on your work hours and situation, maybe some or all of these could help. I will use how I have made recruiting time for recruiting as an example.
- Start my day earlier. Instead of waiting to do it when I got into the office, I woke up early and got at least 1 hour of pure recruiting work done before I got into the office. It was quiet and there were no interruptions so I was able to work for a solid chunk of time and cranked out a ton of emails. It felt great walking into the office for the day knowing that I had already gotten a good amount of recruiting done.
- I worked from a different location. Depending on the week and how much there was to do, I figured out which were my least busy days and times around the office and went and worked from home or in a coffee shop for a solid block of time. I was having a hard time making any significant progress in my recruiting when I was only doing it for a few minutes here and there in between 4,000 other things that needed to get done. Going somewhere different where I couldn’t be interrupted and was able to work for solid blocks of time was really helpful.
- I made a long list of everything that had to get done with recruiting. I figured out what I HAD to do, then I delegated the rest. I’ve hired students through work study to do my database entry. I have gotten my communication majors do our social media for a class project. I have had to get creative here because my 1st 3 years here at South Dakota I didn’t have a full-time assistant. There was a lot of work to do so I had to think outside the box and go find help with the resources I had on campus.
- I created work expectations. I think you get what you tolerate. If you always tolerate your co-workers interrupting you, they will always interrupt you. If you tolerate your co-workers texting you at all hours of the night and morning and you respond immediately, they will keep doing it. I get there are things that need to get done and if you are an assistant, you are at the whim of your head coach. BUT, and this is a BIG BUTT, I think if you are organized and are proactively planning and getting things done in advance, you shouldn’t need to be asking your staff to do things at all hours of the night as you remember them.
- I created systems or checklists for almost everything. I have checklists for what needs to get done on on-campus visits, recruiting phone calls, game day, preseason, travel, after season meetings, the spring season, etc. It takes longer, the work doesn’t get done as well, things get forgotten, and it is mentally exhausting when you always trying to remember things because you only have everything up in your head. Get your standard operating procedures out of your head and down on paper. When you can get those things running smoother, it will free up a lot more time to do recruiting as well.
I HAD to do these things above because I was tired of being tired and stressed out about not getting enough of my high priority stuff done. As you may have noticed, doing all of these things above required me to change how I was currently working.
It was really hard a few years ago to make changes to how I was working because I was used to doing things a certain way. But now, I don’t think twice about it. My work life is so much better now because I am working on my priorities, and not just being busy working in my career.
How do you make time for your top priorities? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. I love hearing all of the ways that everybody else is staying organized and focused on the right things, and would love to give you more ideas that Tudor Collegiate Strategies has seen work when it comes to maximizing your day as a coach.