Every Minute Counts
Between meetings, appointments, and perhaps teaching a class – if you still have one – our daily schedules have a number of built-in time restrictions. When you also consider your, “To Do List,” there will be some tasks that may take a considerable amount of uninterrupted time to complete.
It is easy, therefore, to become frustrated in your attempts to accomplish everything that is needed. With our busy schedules and ever increasing responsibilities, we have to use every single minute to our advantage.One possible solution: Make better use of five minutes here and through out the day. By utilizing these little snippets of time to accomplish something constructive, this will ultimately allow you to later tackle larger tasks and projects.
The following are some practical examples of how you can use these small bits of available time:
1. Answer an e-mail or two. This is an ideal task that will reduce the number of responses that you would ultimately face later in the day. At the rate that e-mail messages normally arrive in a typical day, you’d better keep pace.
2. Delete messages which have accumulated in your Inbox and Sent Boxes. If you receive the number of daily e-mails that I do, completing this task is vital in order to stay under the capacity which your network allows. It can be extremely frustrating to try and send a message only to find that you have exceeded your capacity.
3. File score sheets, vouchers, or any other paperwork which normally accumulates on your desk, as the day progresses. For me, this paper build up happens quite naturally when the phone rings or someone stops into my office unannounced. By filing this paperwork in those five minute slots, you may avoid a huge task later in the day and preserve valuable time which you may need on other larger responsibilities.
4. Jot down items which need to be added to your “To Do List” for the next day. I always keep an on-going list in my briefcase so that I don’t forget anything. Later in the evening, I will prioritize and put everything in order. As things occur to you during the day, write it down. Never rely on your memory to create your list for the following day.
5. Scan your current “To Do List” and analyze how much time some of the remaining items will take to complete. Confronted with five spare minutes, skip to the next item which can be completed quickly. You may have to jump over a few, but you will better utilize your time.
6. Take care of tasks such as sorting the mail which has arrived for your various coaches and stuff their mailboxes. I always have file cabinets that need purging to create more room for new and current folders. You can always tackle a few when you may have five minutes available.
7. Clean up – either file or delete – your desktop. My desktop is always filled with current projects or documents which I use daily. Within a few days, it becomes so crowded that there is no available space for the next document. Using five minutes here or there is an excellent way to keep pace with this constantly reoccurring task.
8. Post two or three of your long term goals, which can be reduced to a few words, on your bulletin board. When you have a few minutes, brainstorm and jot down possible initiatives for their solution or implementation. A colleague of mine constantly bemoans the fact that he never has time for visionary thinking due to all of the daily mundane tasks which have to be completed. By utilizing these small blocks of time you might be able to reach these larger goals.
9. Take five minutes and read one article in one of the professional magazines which you receive. It is not uncommon for five or six of these publications to find a spot on an athletic director’s desk or neighboring shelf. Take a few minutes to clip and file the pertinent and useful articles so that you can easily access them in the future.
10. Clean out the one desk drawer which we all use as the emergency dumping ground. At the end of the day or just before an important meeting, many of us quickly slide papers, pens, and other items from our desk into this temporary repository. If you don’t tackle this drawer it can unfortunately continue to grow until it becomes unmanageable. This is a perfect five minute operation.
As our positions become more complex and hectic, working harder may not be the answer for survival and success. Most A.D.’s are already operating at full capacity. The only solution is to better use the time which we have.
Five minutes here or there could be your ultimate ally.