Reclaiming the Space…Who Has the time?

The junk drawer at home—you know the one. The one that everything gets shoved into before company comes. The one that houses the pens that don’t work, the gadgets you never use, or the Tupperware covers you can’t ever seem to find. Each break in your schedule it is on the list to get addressed, yet it never seems to happen. But when it does the feeling is almost magical. How can something so simple, so benign, be so satisfying? Well, as is true with many things in life, we are all busy and there is never a right time so every once in a while we just need to prioritize differently. Such is the case with reclaiming space in our everyday schedules to focus on our “why,” our greater transformational purpose.

My purpose as an athletic administrator is I lead to model and teach the values of empathy, service to others, and how to be a great teammate. In order to truly live my purpose, I need to be intentional. If I spend all of my time on the management details of the job I will consume more hours than there are in a day. I was not a math teacher, but simple logic tells me that if there are more tasks to complete than hours in a day that the job will never be done. And how many of us feel that way often in athletic administration?

So that leaves us with a simple choice—we either make space for what is most important in our jobs and our personal lives or we get consumed by the management. If we are not intentional about how and when we do this it will only happen by accident. So how do we apply this simple lesson in athletics? I am entering my 25th year in education and to this day I have yet to hear any coach say I just do not love coaching kids anymore. What I hear all too often is burnout, fatigue, and frustration with not being able to “just coach kids.” I believe the same is true for coaches as it is for athletic administrators.

One of the starting points is to do a simple “audit” of your practice plans or calendar. Keep track for a day, a week or a month and then assess the actual time based on different categories. Are the categories you are spending the most time on consistent with your transformational purpose? If not, what can you set as a goal for improvement? Start small and grow it from there. A simple strategy I have found effective is carving out a few times each day where I can really focus on being transformational. At school I took some daily “routines” and changed my approach. It has been a game changer. We have hallway supervision duty before school, after school and between each class. In addition, we have a rotating commitment to lunch duty throughout the week. By committing to making student connections during that time it is no longer just wasted time on a schedule, it is now meaningful time that adds up in a hurry. Most importantly it refills my tank on a frequent basis of the real why behind being an educator…connecting with kids!

I have not yet mastered the skills of adding more hours in a day or taking lots of tasks off the list so I can feel caught up, but being intentional about focusing on empathy, service and being a great teammate has made it feel like it is all worth it.