productivity

I don’t know a single coach who has coaching as his or her ONLY job. Many are teachers, have a traditional 9-5, work more than one job, and many of us are raising their own little ones at home by day and coaching by night (often with littles in tow). So that also means, I know that we are all CRAZY BUSY and most of us could use some tips to improve our productivity.

I think coaches spend more time than we have to give to our teams. Because we love them. We want the best. We obsess over every detail and there is frankly just a lot of stuff to do!

Some people may think, you only practice a few hours a week, it can’t be that much.

Oh how wrong they are. We plan fundraisers, rhinestone costumes, plan choreography, communicate with ALL THE PEOPLE to make sure things run smoothly. We do the admin paperwork for competitions, check on grades, attend all the extra activities like games, pep rallies, and meetings… and the list goes on and on.  But when there is so much to be done, how can one person possibly accomplish all there is to do as a coach?!?

Those people in my personal inner circle know I’m naturally a pretty organized and productive person. So I get asked a lot “how do you get it all done?” Today, I decided to share my personal productivity tips. Whether being organized comes naturally to you or not, here are my top 5 tips for being a really productive dance coach.

Productivity Tip #1:

Don’t multi-task

This means when you sit down to work out the budget, or write that email, make sure you are not simultaneously doing anything else. Put your phone away, turn the TV off, get rid of all distractions.

There is a lot of neuroscience being published lately about the human brain’s inability to multitask. But here’s the summary that may feel relevant to you: Every time you switch the task you are working on, it can take your brain up to 20 minutes to refocus. Think about that – how often to you do uninterrupted work one ONE task for more than 20 minutes? Likely, you get distracted more quickly than that, or you’re switching between two things. Like when you interrupt what you’re working on to check that phone notification, or switch between registering for competition and planning for practice. Our brains are not built to switch between tasks and we are very inefficient when we try to multi-task. So instead, focus on one thing at a time and stay focused until you’re done.

Productivity Tip #2:

Time blocking

This is a productivity strategy used by a lot of people in business. And again, it’s been supported in the psychological science literature. Whenever you can, batch your work. Meaning try to do a lot of the same type of task all at once before switching.  Say that hypothetically you have 30 minutes to an hour every night to work on the admin side of coaching. Rather than sitting down and writing a few emails, researching travel necessities for nationals, and then checking in on the team’s grades, pick one task and stick with that and complete it. Do one type of thing by itself one night, then do something else the next night.

Start by determining what you can do all at once. Maybe Monday you always plan your practices out for the week and determine what your game plan is for each day. Don’t get side-tracked with emails or any other tasks, just plan practice for the week. Then maybe Tuesdays you always check grades and update finances. Wednesdays you do a lot of emails and reach out to vendors you need to speak with. Thursdays you always check in with assistants and spend the time debriefing with everyone… and so on. The idea is that rather than spending your 30 min, writing two emails, googling where you’ll get food when you arrive at nationals, and then calling the costume company to ask a question you pick ONE type of task in each 30 minute block and don’t switch.

This can be hard to do at first. “But I have to answer those emails!” “I have to work on nationals planning… ” Yes you to. But see tip #1: Don’t multi-task and switch between projects. You will get MORE done in less time if you batch. Work on similar tasks all at once and then don’t revisit them for the rest of the week.

Productivity Tip #3:

Reduce distractions

This is the simplest to say and the hardest to do. Turn off your phone. No notifications, no Netflix in the background, no interruptions (as much as possible, I get that it’s sometimes not feasible). Then see #1 and #2 – use time blocking & don’t multi-task. But in order to do both of those things well, you have to get rid of distractions. Go the local library. Or get the app that locks your internet browser for a certain amount of time so you can’t get lost down a rabbit hole on amazon. Rather than trying to be Mom, answer texts coming in on your phone, and email all the parents about practice this week, block out 30 minutes without distractions, batch your work, and get it done! Did I say that enough yet?!? Multi-tasking and distractions (read: your phone) are the death of productivity.

Productivity Tip #4:

Use a digital project management tool

There are a lot of great options here. I personally use Asana. It has a free version that is great and I’ve never felt the need to upgrade to a paid subscription. It allows you to track your tasks in “projects” and you can use it to delegate to assistant coaches or captains. Plus, you can always track progress across everything that’s going on. So if it’s your 30 minutes to work on planning for tryouts, you go to that project and all of the tasks are there and you start working on the next thing. No wasted time trying to figure out where you left off or what to do next.

I have a whole video tutorial on Asana here and there’s lots more if you google it. Personally, like Paul for advice on how to use Asana effectively.

I have a whole video tutorial on Asana here and there’s lots more if you google it. I personally like Paul Minors for advice on how to use Asana effectively.

Productivity Tip #5:

Plan your weekly Big 3

You may have heard of this advice when it comes to practice. (I recommend you have 3 daily tasks that you pledge to complete each practice). But that idea was born out of my weekly productivity process where I choose my weekly 3 big tasks that have to happen that week in order to stay focused and work on the big picture goals.  Each Sunday, I think about the 3 big things that I want to accomplish that week in order to make focused progress on my goals. Try the same for your team and it will help you stay focused and get the most of your practice time.

Productivity Powerhouse!

I know that coaching can feel super overwhelming. But if you ever feel like you can’t get it all done try these one, two, or all of these productivity strategies: Batch your work with no distractions. No multi-tasking. Use a project management tool. And plan your Big 3 so you always have your eyes on the bigger picture. You’ll be a productivity powerhouse!

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