Coaches wear many hats – teacher, counselor, administrator, fundraiser etc. A daunting coaching challenge is to balance one’s focus on the big picture of the program with implementing the important daily details. Yet striving for “stress free productivity” is critical for long-term success on and off the playing field.
David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a brilliant system. It works yet it takes some time to get comfortable with implementing it. Here are the 5 phases of Allen’s system.
1. Collect. Capture all the stuff that has your attention. Carry a simple, portable, easy-to-use tool for capture — a small notebook, PDA or small stack of index cards. Keep it simple and make it something you will use. Write down any tasks, ideas, projects, or other information that pop into your head. Get it out of your head and onto paper, so you don’t forget it. At the end of the day put these notes into your desktop inbox for processing.
2. Process. Make quick decisions on the stuff you’ve collected. Process your capture tool (from #1) and all other “inboxes” (email, voicemail, desktop inbox) at least once a day. Look at each item (once) and do it (if it takes 2 minutes or less), trash it, delegate it, file it, or put it on your to-do list or calendar to do later.
3. Organize. Once you’ve processed it – find a place for everything. Put things where they belong, right away, instead of piling them up to sort later. This keeps your desk clear so you can focus on your work.
From your inbox, stuff goes onto a list, into an action folder, or in a file in your filing system, in your outbox if you’re going to delegate it, or in the trash.
Keep this part simple. Create a simple trusted organizing system. Keep simple lists and add sub-categories by action if it helps you: in the office, calls to make, on computer, errands etc.
4. Review. Look at your lists and your calendar each day. Create a customized weekly review to clean up, update, maintain and improve your systems.
Regularly review the bigger picture. Allen provides the following framework and timeframe for reviewing your various priorities:
- Runway Level – current actions (daily)
- 10,000’ Level – current projects (weekly)
- 20,000’ Level – current responsibilities (monthly)
- 30,000’ Level – 1 to 2 year goals (quarterly)
- 40,000’ Level – 3 to 5 year goals (annually)
- 50,000’ Level – career, purpose, lifestyle (annually+)
5. Do. Make choices about what to do in the moment based upon where you are (office, commute, road), how much time you have, how much energy you have and your priorities. Once you decide, focus on the task at hand.
For more on David Allen and Getting Things Done go to www.davidco.com. To download a free copy of his workflow diagram, go to “products”, then to “free articles” and finally to “workflow diagram.
The question coaches ask a lot is “How can I motivate my players?” The answer to this is twofold. First, it’s time that coaches STOP TRYING to motivate their players and start helping athletes CONNECT to their own motivation. Second, when coaches foster the right mindset, a growth mindset, in their athletes, then commitment and motivation will automatically show up without having to force it.
I’ve read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology for Success and I recently participated in a talk she gave to Positive Coaching Alliance trainers. Dweck’s research on fixed mindset and growth mindset is essential for every coach to understand. To summarize, a fixed mindset reflects a belief that talent is inherent and cannot be altered—meaning we have fixed abilities, be they athletic, academic, artistic, musical, etc. A growth mindset involves a belief that you can develop talent—that talent is not fixed. Typically athletes with a fixed mindset tend to fear real challenges. Competition is seen as a threat as it “measures” an innate ability that they are powerless to change.
On the other hand, athletes with a growth mindset welcome challenge. Effort, learning and confronting mistakes is inherent in their framework. Someone else’s growth and improvement presents an opportunity and not a threat. They are empowered by the belief that they can work hard every day to develop their talents and maximize their own potential. Losing is an opportunity to learn and is therefore not a failure at all.
What does all this mean for coaches? How can we make sure our athletes remain learners with a growth mindset? Here are a few ideas:
- Watch your language! Our words tell our athletes what we believe and what we value. Praise effort, persistence in the face of set backs, learning, improving, strategy, choosing a difficult task, focus, overcoming obstacles etc.
- Present your staff as mentors in your athletes learning process
- Learn, teach and talk about how the brain works. Let your athletes know that effort and learning increase the number of neurological connections in their brain. This is what makes them better, smarter. Check out Dr. Dweck’s site www.brainology.us – she calls it “the owner’s manual for the brain.”
- Read Dr. Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology for Success.