Category Archives: Time management

Organize Your Day For Success

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According to Inc. Magazine, morning people have been found to be more proactive and more productive.5 Things Super Successful People Do Before 8 AM

I’ve always been a morning person, so reading articles like the one linked above suit me and make me feel pretty good about myself.  Now that I have a child, though, I do a lot before 8 am…but I don’t know how productive and successful I’m being.

Before the little one gets up in the morning, I pack her lunch, pack my pump, and put all work related stuff that I did the night before while she was sleeping away.  Then I have to get myself together (clothes on, teeth brushed, etc.) and sometimes, on amazingly sweet mornings, I can read a book for about ten minutes.

Alas, none of that is mentioned in the article, but it is good and I think I can make some adjustments to my schedule to fit some of it in.

Before 8 am, you should…

…exercise.  I don’t do this, I should.  I always say I’ll do it later, but we all know I won’t.  Pre-baby, I was all about working out before work, I’ve got to get back there.

…map out your day.  I was introduced to the Steven Covey method of organization early on in my professional career and it’s helped me tremendously.  I’m all about my to-do list.

…eat a healthy breakfast.  This is one thing I’ve gotten much better about post-baby.  Since we eat breakfast as a family in the morning, I can’t skate by with a donut anymore…I’ve got to set a good example!

…visualize.  I’m a church girl, so taking a moment out for prayer in the quiet moments of the day before things get crazy is pretty essential for me.  But I suppose whatever you do—meditate, journal, or just plain positive thinking—is a great way to see yourself and your day the way you want it to happen.

…make your day top heavy.  Do the crappy stuff first.  You won’t do it later, I promise.

Most of this stuff can be done with an infant in the home, which means it’s super doable.  Let’s get out there and be successful!

4 Ways To Manage Your Time Better

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Since I’ve started this blog, I get this question over and over again from fellow coaches: where do you find the time?  I typically smile and say it’s hard work (which it is), but I really enjoy doing it (which I do), so I find the time.  But is there really such a thing as “finding the time”?  We’ve all got the same seven days in a week and twenty-four hours in each day, correct?  So it’d be more precise for me to say that I’m managing my time better and attacking every day with a plan.  While I’ve never been one who’d be accused of being disorganized, now I’ve taken time management to near maniacal levels.  Here are four things that you can learn from the special kind of crazy that I’ve become.

4 Things You Know You Should Be Doing (But Aren’t) To Manage Your Time Better

1.       To-do lists. Start each day by thinking through all of the things that you need to get accomplished.  Write it all out, even if you know that there’s no way you can get all of it done.  Eons ago, I took a Franklin Covey class and they encouraged us to write out everything you need to do…phone calls, emails, meetings, etc.  That way you’ll know what happened to your time and you won’t be trying to figure out how it got to be practice time and you still haven’t gotten anything done yet.  Whatever you can’t do today gets carried over to tomorrow’s to-do list.  If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get done or it gets added.

2.       Do the crappy stuff first. Once you’ve written that list, figure out the stuff that you really don’t want to do and knock it out first.  Otherwise it’s going to get to be about midday and you’ll have to deal with meetings, player drop-ins, lunches, and whatnot that will keep pushing that to-do item to tomorrow’s list.

3.       Give yourself time limits. If you’re like me, once you start working on something, you want to hammer away at it until you’re finished.  Sometimes that’s just not an option.  Look at your list and figure out how much time you can devote to that item and stick to it.  Tell yourself: I’m only writing emails for an hour because I’ve got to make calls for two hours…and then I’ve got to get home so that my family doesn’t hate me.  Then stick to it.

4.       Focus! Does this happen to you?  You’re working away on something and then your phone dings.  You stop what you’re doing to check the email you just received.  And since you’ve already stopped, you might as well hop online and check things out there…oh, and texts, gotta send out a couple of those!  Smart phones will be the death of productivity, I’m sure of it.  We can check all ten of our email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, and send out a few texts all from one place.  I personally love having access to all of these things, because it means I can get work done from wherever I am.  But it also means that, much like Pavlov’s dogs, I’m trained to pick it up each time it chimes.  Sometimes at work, silence (of all that dinging!) is golden.

Now that we’ve gotten rid of the “I’m so busy and I don’t have time for anything” excuse, we can all go out and be more excellent than we already are!

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Create More Time In Your Day By Better Managing Email

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When we don’t control our email habit, we are controlled by it.
Coping With Email Overload

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?  Do you reach over to grab your phone to see what messages you may have missed while your body so annoyingly required sleep?

Is it possible that the feeling of being overloaded by email is something that we’ve created ourselves?  We’ve all got smartphones which give us up-to-the-second information…even if that second is at six in the morning or nine o’clock at night.

In the article I referenced above, Coping With Email Overload, the author talks about going on vacation and not having internet or phone access for a week.  First of all, the world didn’t stop spinning on its axis.  Secondly, he was much more focused on his email when he had hundreds of them to address rather than checking his email on his phone…only to actually respond to the same email later on when he got to his computer.

He was doing something that I think we all do…double-dipping.  Read emails on the phone and then re-read them later when we actually have time to craft a well thought out response.  What if we only did the work once?  What if we set up a system for addressing emails that allowed us to feel like we had more control of our work lives?

An email management suggestion

Check it three times a day for a certain amount of time.  The article suggests thirty minutes, but I think I’d need more at the beginning and end of the day.  So I’m going to try (I’m a notorious phone-checking bandit!) an hour in the morning when I first open up my email, then a half an hour midday, and back to an hour before I shut the ole computer down for the day.

What does this mean?

I probably means that I don’t need to sit at my desk with my phone right next to me waiting for beeps and dings to tell me that I’ve received an email.  It also probably means I’ll be more focused on the task at hand when I’m going through emails.  There’ve been times when I’m diligently answering emails, only to be disturbed by my phone letting me know that I’ve received an email on another account.  Not exactly the most high-functioning way to work!

Outliers

What if there’s an urgent email that requires my immediate attention?  Maybe there are some of you out there who receive those sort of emails, but I’m not that important.  In my mind, I may create a world where I get emails that need to be answered ASAP, but in reality, they can all wait a few hours.

It seems like vacations could be a time where we’d have to rely on our phones a bit more than necessary.  That seems okay, right?  For a week or two, we can break from the norm of managing our time well in order to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks.

What do you think?  Is this feasible?  Can we get more done by only checking email three times a day?

If you liked this post, check out Step Away From The Computer: Why Unplugging Will Keep You Sane and  You Think You Can But You Can’t: On The Evils Of Multitasking.

I Believe It Is Possible: Work-Life Balance

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The other day, my eyes were really heavy while driving…like I could have fallen asleep right at that moment if there were a bed handy.  The only problem is?  I was on my way to work!  Is work/life balance possible?  I think so!  Here are some of my thoughts on work/life balance, which is a hot button topic these days.

5 problems and 5 solutions to the work/life balance conundrum

I have a good friend, let’s call her Patricia, who is always lamenting why her career isn’t where she wants it to be.  She’s got a lot going for her…smart, beautiful, well-liked by others.  But if you hang out with her, she’s talking to you, texting people on her phone, listening to a webinar…all while trying to figure out what’s happening on Dr. Phil.  Besides feeling a little slighted that you can’t be the focus of her attention, you can understand why she’s not where she wants to be.  She’s all over the place all the time!  If you know a Patricia (or if you happen to be a Patricia), you should read You Think You Can But You Can’t: On The Evils Of Multitasking.  It gives five ways to combat technology and regain control of your life.  Speaking of technology…

So what do you have?  A work cell phone?  A personal cell phone?  And iPad?  An iPod?  A notebook?  A laptop?  And are they all sitting on your desk surrounding you?  Coaching is stressful…our jobs are a bit ridiculous when you really sit down and think about it.  So we’ve got to be intentional about creating time for ourselves and for our family and friends.  Step Away From The Computer: Why Unplugging Will Keep You Sane talks about some ways we can decrease our stress and create some great relationships as a result.  Speaking of making time for ourselves…

The issue of work/life balance is a hot topic amongst employers all over.  In my mind, true balance isn’t an option while I’m in season (I’m a Division III coach, we don’t get “help” with stuff), but I look at the year as a whole and strive for balance over the long haul.  I believe there are some things I can do for myself and others that will make each part of my life more enjoyable, in season or not.  The Great American Hoax: Work/Life Balance gives us four things we can do in order to achieve balance.  Speaking of making my life more enjoyable…

Do you think that sleep is more important than food?  If you asked me that question, I’d probably say, “it depends on what the food is!”, but check out What’s The 1 Thing You Need To Be Exceptional?.  I learned that lack of sleep lowers our ability to function so much so that Amnesty International has deemed sleep deprivation as torture.  Lack of sleep is so entrenched in the coaching culture that we accept it as normal.  But is it?  Check out this post to find out what burning the candle at both ends can do to us.  Speaking of not getting enough sleep…

5 Signs You’re Burned Out…And How To Turn It Around gives us five examples of what burnout looks like, but also three ways to beat it.  I think it’s always a good idea to take an honest look at how we’re going about our business and figure out how long we can operate like that without losing our love of the game.  The coaching profession is inherently tough, let’s do what we can to insure that we last as long as we can!  Speaking of lasting in the profession…

Women are able to lead Fortune 500 companies, but it’s still a commonly held belief in athletics that once a female coach gets married and has kids, that that’ll be the death of her career.  A great article, found on Harvard Business Review’s website, asserts that women must choose “a partner in part on the basis of whether that individual will be supportive of their power quest.”  In this case, the power quest is being successful in athletics…which is possible for the woman who has a supportive home base.  Read 3 Ways To Keep Females In Coaching and Athletics Administration to find out more.

Hopefully that will get us all thinking about how we can balance our multiple responsibilities in a healthier way.

An Intangibles Of Coaching Quiz

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I had a lot of fun writing the A to Z series and I hope you liked reading it.  I’ve gotten a lot of new readers lately and I wanted to make sure that you got a chance to enjoy the alphabetical goodness too!

The A to Z series: Letters K thru O

Back in the day, I was a teacher and I came up with my fair share of quizzes and tests.  Now it’s your turn.  Your task is to match the post title to the appropriate snippet from the actual post.  The only reward for you is the inner knowledge that you’re a smarty pants.

A.   The 3 K’s Of Coaching Philosophy
B.   L Is For L.E.A.D.E.R.S.H.I.P.
C.  M Is For Mistakes: The Value Of Taking Risks
D.  The 3 N’s Of Time Management
E.  5 O’s That Make Up The Pyramid Of Success

 

  1. Go to sleep people!  I know coaches “get after it” and work crazy hours and whatnot…but we still have to go to bed at some point.  Lack of sleep lowers our ability to function so much so that Amnesty International has deemed sleep deprivation as torture.
  2. I believe that God created me to coach.  Not because I think I’m some sort of baller coach, but because I believe in what sport teaches young people.  I feel privileged to be able to teach life lessons (disguised as athletics) that these young ladies will be able to use out in the real world.
  3. As Wooden says, “success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”  I’m sure all of us, players and coaches, want to feel that kind of peace of mind.
  4. “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” –Albert Einstein
  5. My philosophy is based on the cornerstones of John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success:  work hard, have fun.  That philosophy is omnipresent…as I scout opponents, recruit new players, chat with alums, develop new teams, and even as I cultivate solid work relationships.  I don’t mind working hard, because I get to do something fun: coach volleyball!


Answer key: A-5, B-2, C-4, D-1, E-3

Now you’ve got some homework…go read those articles and be a learning leader for your team!

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The 3 N’s Of Time Management

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Please join me for a fun series.  My mission, and I’ve chosen to accept it, is to write a post based on each letter of the alphabet.  The English major inside of me is very excited about this project…and my inner nerd is even more fired up!  Keep checking back as I tackle the intangibles of sport…from A to Z.

When you walk past the mirror, are you shocked at what you see?  Are you just a shell of your former, bubbly and exuberant self?  Is the pep that used to be in your step missing in action?  Maybe it’s time to take an honest look at how you’re going about your business and figure out how long you can run yourself into the ground without losing your love of the game.

Time management seems like a cliché phrase.  But what it is, in reality, is a way for us to get the important stuff done when it needs to be done…and either delegate or wait on the rest.  Here’s how we can go about doing it.

Three ways to organize and prioritize your life

  1. Necessary.  Managing our time means we have to admit that we can’t do everything, all the time.  I know it’s tough, but it’s a necessary step to take.  Once we come clean with ourselves that we have more than twenty four hours worth of work…then we can come up with a plan to accomplish our goals.  That could mean empowering our assistant coaches to take on more of the load, using student workers, taking our office support staff up on their offers to help us out.  But the first, and necessary, step is to admit that we can’t do it all.
  2. Notebook.  Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t get along without my note pads.  I write everything in them.  My to-do lists, ideas I have for my team, ideas I come up with for the blog…all sorts of stuff.  If someone pops into my office and asks me to do something, I put it in the notebook.  I tell my team that unless they see me writing it down in the book, they should assume that it won’t get done…if I don’t write something down, it doesn’t exist in my world.
  3. Nap.  Go to sleep people!  I know coaches “get after it” and work crazy hours and whatnot…but we still have to go to bed at some point.  Lack of sleep lowers our ability to function so much so that Amnesty International has deemed sleep deprivation as torture.  Lack of sleep is so entrenched in the coaching culture (I have a coffee press in my office…primed and ready to go!) that we accept it as normal.  But is it?  Check out my post, Rediscovering The Value Of Sleep for more info.


Of course there will always be short spurts of time where we feel frazzled and as if we’re being pulled in a million directions.  If that feeling becomes the norm, then it’s time to reevaluate our organizational system.

Coach Dawn Writes is pretty sweet, right?  Did you know that you could get the articles emailed directly to your inbox?  Well, it’s free and easy.  Just click here and you’re all set!

Rediscovering The Value Of Sleep

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The coaching world is notorious for bad habits.  In season, we don’t eat healthy enough, exercise properly enough, or get nearly enough sleep.  Unfortunately, some coaches wear all of these things as a badge of honor, being sure to let everyone know that they were in the office until midnight and back in at six in the morning.  In a short TEDtalk (a little over four minutes) called How To Succeed? Get More Sleep, Arianna Huffington talked about three reasons why sleep is important for us.

3 reasons why getting enough sleep will make us better professionals

  1. Helps us see the big picture.  Whether you’ve got a couple of players battling it out for a position, or an opponent who presents a significant challenge, or just an athlete with poor technique…sometimes sleeping on it really does work.  As much as we hate to admit it, sometimes we’re too close to the problem and need to take a step back.  I like to chat with my assistant coaches and then all of us come up with an idea that we think will work to solve the problem.  We all bring it back to the group and come up with the best option.
  2. Releases the great ideas within us.  I’m a dreamer.  Not in the I-never-actually-get-anything-done way, but the I-wanna-change-the-world way.  All of our teams and seasons start with a dream.  We call them goals so that they sound a little more tangible than dreams.  I’ve woken up with great ideas about offensive and defensive systems, how to handle team “problems”, and even off the wall motivation techniques.
  3. Shows us that what’s good for us can be good for our greater community.  This is my plea:  coaches really do need to sleep.  We’ve got to be at our best so that we can be the best for our athletes, for our families, for our departments, and of course, for ourselves.  We’re not being selfish, we’re not being bad coaches, and we can still be successful if we get good sleep.


Changing the culture of athletics will require a paradigm shift, for sure.  But sleep deprivation isn’t the way to show we’re dedicated, creative, living healthily.  Neither should it be some sort of badge of honor we wear to show what hard workers we are.  Our team’s success and satisfaction with our program should be how we show our level of hard work…not when we clock in and out.

Want to hear more about sleep deprivation?  Check out my post, What’s The 1 Thing You Need To Be Exceptional?

What’s The 1 Thing You Need To Be Exceptional?

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Sleep.

Research shows that most people, 95% to be exact, need seven to eight hours of sleep.  So why are we staying up too late and getting up too early and depriving ourselves of our much needed sleep?  Because we’re getting after it?  I’ve written here and here about being burned out…but that happens after a whole lot of sleep deprivation and can be prevented.  In an article on the Harvard Business Review’s blog, Sleep Is More Important Than Food, we can read about the effects of being stingy with our sleep patterns.  Lack of sleep lowers our ability to function so much so that Amnesty International has deemed sleep deprivation as torture.  Lack of sleep is so entrenched in the coaching culture (I have a coffee press in my office…primed and ready to go!) that we accept it as normal.  But is it?  Let’s look at what burning the candle at both ends can do to us.

Here are 3 areas of our lives that lack of sleep affects

  • Physical health. According to the article, Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer, lack of sleep hurts us physically…everything from high blood pressure to obesity.  Everything I’ve read says we’re driven to require sleep by some mechanism inside of us, much like hunger pangs drive us to eat.
  • Team health. No one on your team will tell you this (because they’re afraid of you, Grumpypants), but you’ve been a bit irritable lately.  Lack of sleep affects our personalities and sense of humor…that player who always makes you laugh just won’t cut it when you’re tired from not getting enough sleep.
  • Work health. Here’s a quotation from the article:  We continue to live by a remarkably durable myth: sleeping one hour less will give us one more hour of productivity. In reality, the research suggests that even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity and our productivity. So we’re not being more productive on less sleep, we’re actually taking longer to do tasks (and making more errors) than we would while properly rested!  Think of it this way, we spend all day thinking and creating and generally exhausting our brains…and sleep is the time to revamp so that we can do it all again.


So go to bed, you’re not any less tough by giving in to the Sandman.  Your team, your coworkers, and your body will thank you!

You Think You Can But You Can’t: On The Evils Of Multitasking

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The Seattle Times had a nice article about multitasking called, Multitasking Hurts The Brain’s Ability To Focus, Scientists Say.  The title kind of gives away the gist of the article, but it talked about how our tech society is changing the workforce and altering our brains.  Every one of us thinks that we’re multitasking rock stars, but every article that I read on the subject seems to say that that is not true.  We’re multitasking ourselves into ineffectiveness.  Today, I’ll focus on two of the consequences and five antidotes to multitasking.

2 consequences of multitasking

  • Important stuff doesn’t get done and important people get ignored. The article talked about the power of the chime…you know the one.  It lets you know when you have an email or a text or a Facebook message.  The chime is so powerful that you will stop doing work that is interesting, important, and required of you just to see what’s behind it.  Think about the number of work stoppages each of those chimes represents and you’ll see why you get to the end of your day and wonder why nothing’s gotten accomplished.  And if your family is used to playing second fiddle to the chime, that’s bound to be a topic of intense convo in the future.
  • You get stressed out because of too much information. What if all of those chimes represented something that you’ve got to do…a “to-do” list item?  I think that it would get a little overwhelming.  It used to be that when you went home, you didn’t know what emails came to you after hours.  Now we find out right away…and to an extent that’s good.  But that just means we can never shut off our brains from what needs to be done.  And it all seems important…even when it’s not.


5 ways to combat technology and regain control of your life

  • Silence your phone. And put it out of site.  Amazingly enough, those Facebook messages aren’t life or death…and they’ll still be there later.  Even if it’s just for an hour at a time, that’ll be a super productive hour!
  • Set time limits. Maybe you say that you won’t turn the computer on before breakfast and it has to be turned off by nine o’clock at night.  Whatever your parameters, it’s good to have an idea of what’s tech time and what’s connect with actual human beings time.
  • Have a desire to get offline. One of the subjects of the article says that he has to battle the pull of his iPhone…he says that he has to work to suppress the urge to constantly check his phone.  And that’s the key: wanting to be present and focused on what’s happening now and not only what’s happening in the computer or in your phone.
  • Be a thinker. I wrote an article about leadership (Take These 3 Steps To Become An Effective Leader) that talked about multitasking being counter to thinking.  Meaning that we become so focusing on doing, doing, doing which keeps us from thinking and being innovative.
  • Organize your day. In 4 Rock Solid Ways To Get More Stuff Done, I talked about how to manage your time through organization.  The tips were: create to-do lists, do the stuff you don’t want to do first, put time limits on activities, and focus (which talked about the distracting chime!).


Give it a whirl and see what you think…and hopefully you weren’t checking your phone and email while you were reading this!

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Something In Common: Planning For Thanksgiving Dinner And Planning For A Season

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It’s that time of the year…time for family and friends and eating and eating and eating!  I enjoy the holidays because my family is all over the country and this is our time to reconnect with one another.  I was sitting here thinking about that and then I got to thinking about how planning a large family gathering is like planning a season.  Here are a few of the correlations…see what you think!

**3 ways that planning for a season is like getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner**

1.       Map it out: If you’ve ever had to plan a big meal like Thanksgiving dinner, you know that you can’t just start cooking.  You’ve got to begin with the end in mind, like Franklin Covey says.  You sit down and create a menu, a corresponding grocery list, and divvy up jobs in order to make it all come together.  It’s the same for planning out a season.  You and your assistants sit down and figure out where you’d like the program to be at the end of the next season, then you figure out what the program needs in terms of equipment, personnel, and training.  Finally, you get the right people involved to make it happen.

2.       People: We all look forward to dinner at mom’s house where we gather together after a long time apart…and also meeting any new additions.  Usually a cousin or an aunt or uncle will bring along a special someone that has “the regulars” slyly checking them out in order to render the verdict of approval or disapproval.  That’s sounds a lot like the first day of practice, right?  All of the returners are happy to see each other, doling out hugs and smiles to teammates that they haven’t seen in a while.  The upperclassmen are happy to be older and wiser, the sophomores are happy that they aren’t freshmen, and the freshmen?  They have no idea who anyone is or what exactly is going on…they’re a tad bit uncomfortable to say the least.

3.       Nothing goes as planned: With a big project like Thanksgiving dinner, something’s going to go wrong…that’s pretty much guaranteed.  It’s just a matter of whether it’s a big something or a little something.  It’s the same thing with our seasons.  We pray that whatever goes wrong is small and easily fixed, and not something gigantic…like a season-ending injury to a starter (who you wrote down in your season plan was essential to any success your program would have that year) or major budget cuts to the department or your program.  Ideally, you and your coaching staff are on top of the small stuff to nip it in the bud before it becomes a major problem.

I pray that everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving and that you’re able to get to your destinations on time and enjoy your families.  While you’re sitting with them, take a bit of time to be thankful for your athletic family (your team!) and the opportunity we have to coach amazing young people.