A.D.ministration: Becoming More Efficient
As an athletic administrator, there is never enough time to do everything that you should or want to do. Even if you have an assistant and you have the possibility of delegating some items, most days or weeks are impossible. More tasks and responsibilities are seemingly added every year and very little if anything is ever deleted. Overwhelming, hectic, and stressful are probably accurate descriptions of your work environment.
Someone might suggest that you could come in earlier in the morning or stay later in the evening in order to get more done. But even this approach has huge limitations. There are only so many usable hours and everyone needs sleep, food, and a little exercise to get ready for the next day. Therefore, the only answer may be to become much more efficient with the time that you do actually have.The following are some suggestions to help in your attempt to become more efficient.
- Use the time-honored approach of utilizing a daily to-do list. To maximize this tool, you should first establish priorities as to what and when things need to be completed. To be even more efficient, create your list for the next day prior to going to bed and email it to your school address. In this manner, all you have to do is to open this message and you are ready to go for the day. This method also has an added benefit. When you get home in the evening and start planning for the next day, you have a handy reference to see what you accomplished. The items which were not completed can be added to the next list.
- Work ahead whenever you can during the summer or over breaks. Even if you are relatively new in the position, you should have a basic idea of many things that have to be completed. The more that you can plan and get done before the school year begins will help. Using a day or two over Christmas break can also be a good technique for you to get a head start for the second half of the year.
- Identity and delete email spam and unwanted, unsolicited advertisements when you first turn on your computer in the morning. This gives you a realistic view of how many messages which need your attention. The second step is to determine the priority or what is most urgent. Delay answering those which will need a more careful, well-thought-out response for when you have a period of uninterrupted time.
- Don’t open an email message until you are ready – at that moment – to answer it. Why? New messages appear in your Inbox in bold print. This provides an instant reminder that it has to be answered. Once you open a message, it is no longer in bold print and you may forget to respond later.
- Also, develop a system for dealing with the United States Postal System mail. A good approach is to touch each piece only one time. If you open the envelope, deal with it at that point in one of 3 ways:
- Immediately answer the letter. Furthermore, if you can hand-write a brief note on the document, do it? This simple step saves time.
- Throw away unsolicited ads and bulk mail.
- Put items that need a more detailed response in your briefcase. You don’t want to leave them on your desk and risk having them get buried under a pile of memos, folders, or magazines.
- Use Caller ID to screen phone calls or let your calls go to your voicemail instead of reflexively reacting to every ring. Nothing can be more intrusive and interrupt the completion of tasks than a constant barrage of phone calls. When you check your messages, you can decide if and when you will respond. But by doing this, you are in control.
- Create a filing system so that you can easily and quickly find documents. A great deal of time is commonly spent trying to remember, “Where did I file that …?” A good solution is to file documents in more than one electronic folder. By filling in several logical locations and under different headings, you have a better chance of finding things much more quickly.
- Send a copy of working drafts of proposals, reports, letters, and other documents to your personal email address. Also, set up a folder in your Inbox “Work in Progress,” to which you move these documents.
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Once you finish any document and it is in final form, file it in another folder for completed projects. This means that you are not confined to getting work done only in your office. Wherever you have your laptop or a computer and access to the Internet, you can access and tackle any project.
- Utilize small bits of time in your schedule. If you have 10 minutes before an appointment, try filing some documents, answering an email, or handling a small item that is listed on your to-do list. But use every minute constructively.
- Avoid multitasking. While some may laud this approach as a great way to get more done, there is a real risk that you may overlook or miss something trying to do two things simultaneously. In terms of time, it is costly to have to go back and correct mistakes. Do it right the first time and this will ultimately be more efficient.
- Develop techniques to end lengthy phone conversations which are major hurdles when trying to use time effectively. While you do want to gather facts and get complete explanations, don’t allow the person on the other end to repeat or provide unessential information. Your goal is to keep every call as brief as possible. Phone calls take huge chunks of time every day, which can and should be devoted to other tasks.
- Find ways to block out uninterrupted time to complete reports, critical responses, or to come up with a solution to a problem. To accomplish this objective, it may necessitate leaving your office, which can be a magnet for visits from coaches and athletes – all for good reasons, and to find quiet time elsewhere in the building. This could be in the back corner of the media center or an unused conference room. If you have a laptop, almost anywhere out of sight will serve as a safe haven to get work done.
- Create a buffer for tasks such as checking eligibility forms, submitting your budget request, and anything else with a due date. Give your coaches a separate date – two days or so earlier than it is actually due – for them to provide you with their draft of anything that they have to complete. This gives you a little time to chase down those who are late and for you to verify all of the information. In order to deal with all of the tasks, responsibilities, and demands of your position, it will take planning, effort, and perhaps a little creativity. But the only way to get more done is to use your available time more efficiently.