Mar 16, 2018
Getting Organized
By Dr. David Hoch

For some, being organized is second nature — when it comes to keeping things under control, they just have the knack. For others, it’s a foreign concept. However, as a coach, problems and repercussions can occur if you are not organized. So whether you’re naturally neat and just looking to make small improvements, or you often find it hard to locate your desk under the clutter, trying to be more organized is a worthy and necessary goal.

Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to create more structure in your coaching life. The following are some basic ideas to get you started.

Get a calendar. Both electronic and hard copy formats work well, but they are only effective if you remember to use them! As soon as you find out about a deadline, enter it on your calendar. This includes due dates for submitting eligibility forms, budget requests, and similar items, as well as the dates of your preseason parent meeting and postseason awards program. These dates bring with them responsibilities, and you cannot be late. If you do miss something, you will probably pay a penalty.

Learn to prioritize. Organized people have an important skill — they know how to figure out what needs to be done first and what can be handled later. For example, anything that affects the health and safety of your athletes is automatically a top priority. Next, take care of requests and directives from your principal and athletic administrator. And continue with this process of determining what is most important and needs to be accomplished first.

Think ahead. Follow this truism: Failing to plan is planning to fail. Just as it’s important to prepare for practice sessions, it is also crucial to strategize for most other responsibilities in coaching. Take time to think through what you need to do, how long it will take, and what steps will allow you to finish on time.

Make a list. Use a daily to-do list, and also try to compile weekly or monthly lists so that you can keep track of upcoming responsibilities. These documents — again, either a hardcopy or an electronic copy — provide a quick overview of what you need to do.

Create checklists. Longer-term checklists can provide you with action steps for all the various aspects of coaching, and you can create them for multiple scenarios that reoccur year to year. For example, your preseason checklist can include all of the tasks you must complete before the first practice session, while your postseason checklist tells you what to do once the season ends. An ongoing list of topics for your preseason parent meetings is a great way to remember what you want to cover. Keep these documents on your computer so you can quickly and easily edit and update them, and don’t forget to back them up to an external drive or to the Cloud so they can’t be lost.

Find a role model. Lastly, asking a naturally-organized colleague or your athletic administrator how they perform many of their tasks, such as inventory control for uniforms and equipment, collection of forms for eligibility, and completing forms for team awards, can give you some great ideas. Practical suggestions from other coaches can help significantly in your efforts to become more orderly.

When you’re organized, life gets easier and you get more done. Finding the approaches that work for you to structure your job will help you avoid mistakes, make your efforts more efficient, and prevent overwhelming, frustrating situations.

David Hoch, CMAA, CIC, retired in 2010 after a 41-year career as a high school athletic director and coach. In 2009, Dr. Hoch was honored as the Eastern District Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. He was also presented with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Distinguished Service Award, and in 2000 he was named the Maryland State Athletic Director Association's Athletic Director of the Year. Dr. Hoch has authored over 460 professional articles and made more than 70 presentations around the country. He welcomes comments and questions and can be reached at: [email protected]

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