by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota
How long do you and your staff spend each day on unimportant things? Things that don’t really contribute to the success of your program.
Do you know how much time you’ve spent reading junk mail, talking to colleagues, getting interrupted by somebody walking into your office, or getting phone calls everyday? And how often have you thought, “I could achieve so much more if I just had another half hour each day.”
In working closely with the team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies, I know we continually hear from coaches who struggle with their day. They lament how often time seems to get away from them. Even when they plan their upcoming calendar as a coaching staff, it seems to never quite unfold the way coaches hope.
First thing I want you to do: Identify the high-payoff activities within your program.
High-payoff activities are the things you do that bring the greatest value to your program, team, or staff. They are the three to five activities that lie in your “sweet spot.” You do them with excellence. These activities could be building relationships with recruits, making phone calls to parents, sending emails to recruits, managing your current team, etc. They are your unique discipline or distinctive skills and abilities that distinguish you from other staff members.
Knowing what your high-payoff activities are and actually doing them, however, are two very different things. Many surveys that I have read over the past several years have shown that the average American worker spends only 50-60 percent of the workday on activities specified in her or her job description. That means that workers waste 40-50 percent of their time on low-payoff activities, tackling things that others with less skill or training should be doing.
Are you in this category coach?
The more time you spend doing the high-payoff activities, the more value you will bring to your team, program, and staff. By disciplining yourself to clearly identify your high-payoff activities, and then by filling your calendar with those things and appropriately delegating, delaying, or dropping the low-payoff activities, you can and will get more high-payoff activities done everyday, reduce your stress, and increase your happiness.
Homework-Time tracking in an Activity Log
Activity logs help you to analyze how you actually spend your time, and when you perform at your best. The first time you use an activity log the results may shock you! I know that I was shocked the first time I did one.
Do this activity for a week. Write down everything you do, from the time you start working until the time you go home. Without modifying your behavior any further than you have to, note down the things you do as you do them. I created a sample template below. You will need to cut and paste and make the template the size you need it to be depending on the amount of things you do everyday.
Every time you change activities, whether opening mail, working, making coffee, gossiping with colleagues or whatever, note down the time of the change.
As well as recording activities, note how you feel, whether alert, flat, tired, energetic, etc. Do this periodically throughout the day.
At the end of every time-tracked day, tally the total hours you spent in high- vs low-payoff activities. Although this may seem like a hassle, it’s vitally important for you to become very clear on how you actually spend your time over the course of the week. You may be alarmed to see the amount of time you spend doing low value jobs!
Activity logs are useful tools for auditing the way that you use your time. They can also help you to track changes in your energy, alertness and effectiveness throughout the day.
By analyzing your activity log you will be able to identify and eliminate time-wasting or low-value jobs. You will also know the times of day at which you are most effective, so that you can carry out your most important tasks during these times.
Soon you’ll gain a clear picture of how you’re actually spending your time and whether you have room to fill your calendar with the activities that will truly add the most value to you and your program.
Mandy Green, a frequent contributor to College Recruiting Weekly, is a Division I head soccer coach and the author of an upcoming time-management guide for college coaches, as well as a corresponding calendar organizer. In addition, she will be a featured speaker at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this Summer.