by Mandy Green, Busy Coach
Every high performer knows how important it is to plan your top priorities…
And relentlessly execute on them every single day.
But if trying to hammer through that long To-Do list feels more like trying to hammer your head through a wall…
Science can explain why.
A study conducted by Temple University, proves our brains essentially switch off when given too much information to process.
When test subjects reached a point of information overload…
Activity in the part of their brain responsible for planning, decision making, and emotion control literally dropped off the charts.
And with that control center shut down…
Bad decisions… frustration… and anxiety all soared.
So as a coach, if you’ve ever felt completely overwhelmed about having 3 meetings, 15 recruiting calls or texts to make, 8 important administrative tasks to work on, and 30 emails to reply to…
ALL before practice and then speeding over to make it to little Jack’s soccer game on time…
Now you know why.
So how can you use this information to not only avoid overwhelm… but also optimize your performance and productivity?
Create a simple productivity system to help manage your to-do list.
As a result, you’ll be much more effective, get much more done, in much less time.
Tip #1: Cut Your Deadlines in Half
This might sound counterintuitive.
“Mandy,” you might be saying, “Do you have ANY idea how much I’m doing!?”
“I can’t just cut my deadlines in half… I’d go crazy!”
But let me explain…
The thing is… Most of us wait until the last minute to try and complete most of our tasks.
If your deadline for booking that on-campus visit is four weeks away, you’ll probably wait for three weeks and six days before you get started (hey, I’m not judging, we all do it!) It’s just human nature.
So by cutting your deadlines in half on important projects, you’ll get them done quicker. Even better… by getting more aggressive with your deadlines, you’ll be much less likely to “suffer in silence.”
You’ll be willing to ask for help and get your team to support you instead of trying to be a hero and do it all yourself. Try it for just 30-days and I promise you’ll be amazed by how well it works.
Tip #2: Time Block
There’s an old saying…
If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.
(Funnily enough, if you look at the ancient roots of the word “Priority” there was NO plural form. You had ONE priority and one priority only. That was the entire point!)
But in our fast paced coaching world, most of us try to tackle 20+ tasks in a given day without giving much thought to whether or not those tasks need to be completed at all.
This is where time blocking comes in.
Instead of scheduling your day from 9-5 and cramming whatever you can into those 8 hours…
Break your day up into four or five 90-minute blocks where you’ll have only ONE priority at a time… and then schedule a short 15-30 minute break between blocks to give yourself time to recover and reset.
This style of scheduling accomplishes two goals:
1. It forces you to cut out EVERYTHING that isn’t absolutely necessary (if you can do a maximum of five things in a day, you have to do the five that are most important)
2. It keeps you focused and undistracted while you’re working on those necessary tasks And if you’re one of those people who truly has too many things on your to-do list to limit yourself to five block…
Schedule 1-2 “buffer” blocks where you can handle those miscellaneous tasks after the most important work is done.
Tip #3: Cut Your Do Your To-Do List Down
Every successful person I know has some sort of to-do list.
But the #1 thing that separates the most successful people I know from the rest is the number of tasks they have on that to-do list.
The most successful folks I know have the fewest number of commitments and priorities each day.
Even though they’re “doing” 10X more than the average person…
They focus on what’s most essential and either delegate, delete, or automate everything else.
So here’s my challenge to you.
Each day I challenge you to “Erase” at LEAST 1-2 items off your list.
I know, I know…
“Everything on my list is urgent and it HAS to be done!”
No it’s not and no it doesn’t.
I promise you…
… If I can help very successful coaches at Division 1, 2, 3, NAIA, and JUCO cut the waste from their schedule and let go of tasks they don’t need to be doing. There’s something in your calendar or to-do list that you can say “no” to and erase. I promise you.
SO…starting today look at your to-do list and start “Erasing” tasks off that list that aren’t urgent
or absolutely necessary for moving the needle forward in your program.
If by “erasing” that means delegating more as well…that’s fine! The challenge is for YOU to shrink your to-do list daily and weekly.
Tip #4: Take More Breaks
You aren’t doing yourself or anyone else any favors by trying to “power through” yet another 12 hour block of deep work.
The science is in on this.
The average human can only sustain focus and attention for 90-minutes to 2-hours at most.
Anything more than this and errors increase while efficiency decreases.
It might not feel more productive to take 15-30 minutes to go for a walk, read a book, talk with your spouse, or just take a nap…
… But if you take one week to measure the amount you get done when you take breaks vs when you try to finish everything in one sitting.
The results will speak for themselves.