Mandy Green is a Division 1 Head Soccer Coach, President of Coaching Productivity Strategies and author of Green Time Management.
I’m sure you can relate — I have way too much stuff to do. I’ve been a coach in youth and collegiate athletics for the past 15 years. In that time, I was having a hard time working all day in my college coaching job and then coming home to organize all of my youth teams and spend quality time with my husband and kids. I no doubt needed a better way to get my work done so I had more time to hang out with family. To solve the problem, I went out and bought every time and energy management book that I could and synthesized it all together. The result was a time management system for coaches.
I’m sharing with you some simple tools and skills to use in addition to your TeamSnap account that will help you get more work done for your team or group in less time and with less stress. TeamSnap is a great tool that will help you manage logistics and communicate critical information to your team. I know from experience that when you use TeamSnap and a few simple time management techniques together, they will free up time to do other important things in your life. Sound good?
Let’s set up a situation that you will probably encounter throughout the year, and then let’s apply three different time management techniques to get through your do-to list faster and more efficiently:
You are getting ready to take your team to a tournament. Your to-do list includes: register and pay for the tournament, get the team checked-in, figure out who on your team is available, get the schedule up on your TeamSnap website, pass on tournament details to the team, get directions to the competition, book hotels, pack for the weekend, get a dog sitter, etc.
Recognize Parkinson’s Law
A big mistake I see coaches or managers make is that when they get started on their tournament to-do list, they pay no regard to the time. Parkinson’s Law dictates that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. What this means is that if you don’t give yourself a deadline to complete a task, it is a good possibility that it will take you all day to get it done.
If you give yourself 60 minutes to work on it, Parkinson’s Law says that it will take 60 minutes. And if you give yourself 45 minutes, magically the task will get done in 45 minutes. When you are about to get to work on your tournament to-do list, figure out how much time you can spend on it and then start the clock. Setting a time deadline works because it gets you to pick up your pace and work with more urgency. It’s a great tool for helping to get a lot more done and in a much shorter period of time.
Stop the Multi-Tasking
Every person likes to think they’re great at multi-tasking, and some of them actually are. But, there’s a limit to how many things you can do at once without taking away from the quality of your work. Plus, it almost always increases the time it takes to finish each project. Experts estimate that the tendency to start and stop a task, to pick it up, put it down and come back to it can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%. That means that a task that should take 10 minutes to complete now takes almost an hour.
It is very important to absorb yourself with one thing at a time. Give that task your full attention and complete it before moving on to the next thing. By concentrating single-mindedly on your most important task, you can reduce the time required to complete it by 50% or more. Do your most important task first. Do it until it’s completed. Then, and only then, move on to the next most important task.
A great way to save time is to use a checklist. The reason why checklists are good is simple: it’s easy for us to forget things. Take the time to map out each step in the tournament process and document all of the important details. Yes, this will take a lot of work the first time you do it. But because these will be steps you need to take every time you take a team to a tournament, by following a checklist you will save a TON of time in the long run and no important details will be forgotten.
These techniques can be applied to a lot of different situations. Since working with coaches and team managers, I found that these ideas are common knowledge but they are not common practice. Try implementing just one of these ideas this week and see what sorts of results you get. And then each week after, start incorporating a new one into your daily routine. Trust me, if you want to get more important things done well and in less time, this simple techniques can make a world of difference.
Mandy Green is a Division 1 Head Soccer Coach, President of Coaching Productivity Strategies and author of the Green Time Management Workbook and Planner for Coaches. Coach Green also conducts workshops, speaks at conferences, and works one-on-one with coaches who are looking to be more productive with their day. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org