Tag Archives: Productivity

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 by 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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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?

4 Secrets Of Productive Coaches

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I read a lot of business blogs and magazines, because I believe there’s a strong connection between coaching and the business world.  Teamwork, leadership, excelling within a group construct…I think we coaches can learn a lot from the CEO’s and presidents of the world.  This article on Inc.com, Secrets of the Most Productive People I Know, is one of those that I think is valuable to coaches.  Here’s my take on that post:

4 keys to being the best coach you can be

They have a life.  I know we coaches take pride in “getting after it” and working ‘til all hours of the night, so much so, it almost seems like we wear not taking days off as a badge of honor.  But what if doing something of value outside of our jobs made us better at our jobs?  Maybe you teach a Sunday School class at church, or take guitar lessons, or landscape your yard nicely.  Whatever it is, having an outlet to take our minds off of the grind keeps us refreshed and excited for work when we get back to it.

They take breaks.  Like assembling a thousand piece puzzle of the sky, our teams can present us with challenges.  When we’re working on that puzzle and staring and ten pieces that look like they should fit, but don’t, sometimes we get up from the table, push our chair in, and come back to the puzzle later.  In the same manner, when our team is experiencing a problem, sometimes we need to step away from racking our brains trying to find the elusive solution.

They’ve often worked in different industries.  Whether it’s coaching at multiple levels or even different sports, it’s helpful to have a different perspective of what “normal” is.  It seems that a lot of coaches come from the playing ranks (like me) and don’t necessarily have experience with different ways to skin a cat.  Early on in my career, I would watch other sport coaches with their teams.  I’d take notes about how the coach set up their practice, how they interacted with their team, how their drills flowed into the next, how they opened practice, how they closed practice, everything.  Even for established coaches, challenging our norms is a good thing.

They have great outside collaborators.  I’ve got a coaching friend that I can text with my random questions about our sport.  I’ll ask her if it’s crazy to do whatever it is I’m thinking about and she asks the appropriate questions and we can work it out.   I’ve got coworkers whose offices I can pop in when I’ve got a coaching dilemma and they help me work through whatever it is I’m contemplating.  Our team won our conference tournament a few years ago, but I remember slumping into a chair in another coach’s office after the very first game of that season and telling him that I knew we had a problem.  And we did.  He and I talked and he gave me great ideas about the situation.  With his help, I was able to solve the problem early on which made the championship possible.

While each of these points is different, the common thread is connectedness.  Whether it’s being connected to something significant outside of work or having great coaching friends that we can count on…we can all be more productive if we use these tips.

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