October 2, 2009 • Athletic Administration

For Better Organization

PRINT EMAIL The athletic directors in Baltimore County were recently given a new responsibility that lengthened their schedule by approximately 20 hours.

It wasn’t anything extraordinary. The allocation of extra duties happens frequently in athletic directing, underscoring the importance of being as organized as possible.

Most athletic directors work extremely hard and put in mega hours during a typical week. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to work harder to accomplish more. The solution lies in working smarter, and that’s where better organization can help.

For me, the trick lies in using a system of 3-ring binders and folders for our most frequently required tasks. I use a labeled binder (some come as large as four inches) for most of the major responsibilities of my position. This system enables me to quickly retrieve documents for reference or to substantiate claims.

For example, I have a separate binder for:

1. Memos and communications with my coaching staff. While it is possible to save e-mail messages on the computer, I prefer keeping a hardcopy on file in a binder. Usually the subject line of the e-mail message is not sufficient to trigger my memory after being saved on the computer for some time. Normally, I would have to open and read the message to see if it is the one that I was looking for. This is too time-consuming as compared to quickly leafing through hard copies.

2. Memos and directives that I receive from our league and state association. In the last few years, we have gotten fewer mailings containing paper documents. New information and directives now come in the form of either e-mail messages or as attachments.

While I do save most of these in folders on my computer, I usually also keep a hardcopy in a binder as a quick backup. Whenever our server is down, these backup copies are invaluable.

3. Schedules, work orders, and communication with our grounds crew. As with most communication involving details, it is usually best to avoid conversations. Written directions can provide documentation when needed, whereas verbal requests are only as good as one’s memory.

4. Transportation schedules and rescheduling requests. In like fashion, I would never think of scheduling a bus, hiring officials, or making any of the other arrangements for rescheduling games over the phone if I can help it. A mistake can be made anywhere along the line, whereas e-mail or faxed requests can document all of the important details, including the date and time sent, which should be kept on file.

5. Tentative scheduling information for each season. Even though our schedules are now posted on an Internet site, I still keep the individual requests with each school for the various sports and teams. These documents can verify the date and specifics for each event. Once the season schedule is finalized, I usually keep everything on file for several months as a backup.

6. Master Copies. I keep a copy (in this binder) of any form, set of guidelines or instructions that I use frequently and may need copies for our coaches, athletes or parents. This is more efficient than printing out a copy from the computer each time and also prolongs the life of the printer cartridge.

7. Building and field use requests. All schedules and forms that individuals have to have approved in order to use the facilities are kept together in one binder. These forms are kept in chronological order, which can help determine the priority of the requests.

8. Game management directions, procedures and forms. This binder contains the step-by-step instructions for each of our venues. With these documents, a substitute can easily fill in as the game manager.

In addition to binders, I also use a system of folders that are kept in the large file drawer of my desk. That’s right, the large drawer in my desk. With this approach, I don’t have to stand up and go to one of the file cabinets to retrieve a folder. All of the important, frequently used ones are within very easy reach.

What do I keep in this desk drawer?

  • One folder for each in-season sport. All sport-specific memos, directions and information can be found in this folder for quick reference. I also add the score sheets to this file as soon as they have been recorded on the Score Log, an Excel document on my computer.
  • Purchasing and budget information. People are always phoning for instant access to an item concerning a recent order or delivery. It takes only seconds to locate this in the folder.
  • An evaluation folder for a few specific, perhaps problematic in-season coaches. While there is no need to have a folder for each of your coaches, there may be a few high maintenance ones for whom you may have to frequently file notes, forms and reminders. Because this small group of coaches can cause you numerous headaches, you want to keep these folders within easy reach.

Basically, the folders in this drawer are used almost daily.

For both the binders and folders, I try to file an e-mail message or incoming documents immediately. Before I adopted this approach, I would merely put the hardcopy on my desk. As the day progressed, the piles would begin to develop and it soon became impossible to locate needed items.

It also became intimidating and impossible to file everything when I finally got around to this task a few days later. Now, I use a “read, answer, and punch – for the three holes- and file” system. I try to handle the documents only once.

As our position becomes more demanding, it requires us to improve our time management. Our system provides an efficient retrieval of information and documents, making our job a little easier.

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