Structure Your Work Day Like A Football Coach To Get More Out Of It
Six productivity tactics from masters of time management.
Winning football coaches are time management and productivity masterminds.
They have to oversee 50 players and a staff of coaches, prepare for a new opponent each week, deal with the media, keep their owner and fanbase happy, all while the clock ticks down toward next Sunday’s game.
You likely don’t face the same challenges they do, but there’s a lot you can learn from their techniques and apply to your own situation.
Here are a few suggestions…
1. Implement A Halftime Ritual
Every football game has a halftime and you’d be wise to integrate one into your own day.
Even if you take as little as 12-minutes out of your day (which is how long a typical NFL halftime break is), it can dramatically impact your performance.
Use this halftime break to get off the “field,” assess what worked and what didn’t in the first half of your day and come up with a strategy for the second half.
A motivational speech is optional, but if you want to include one you could always watch a quick video, read a quick article, or listen to a quick podcast.
2. Approach “Practice” And “Game” Days Differently
All work days are not created equal so it makes no sense to approach them all in the same way.
Football coaches obviously treat practice days different than game days, and even employ a different approach to different types of practice days — some feature players in pads hitting each other, others are just walkthroughs, others are travel days, etc.
Think about the different types of work days you have and develop a unique approach for each.
A day filled with meetings requires a different approach than one where you’re doing deep solo work, which will also be different than a day when you launch a new product.
Structure each day to optimize for that day’s main purpose.
3. Build “Film Study” Into Your Schedule
Football coaches watch a lot of tape.
They review their team’s performance in practice and in games, as well as studying film of their upcoming opponents.
They recognize analysis of performance is a key to improvement and build time to do this into their schedule on a daily basis.
You should do the same.
Review the performance of your work, identify key metrics to track, “scout” your and industry, and discuss all of this with your colleagues, clients, or leadership.
Games are often won in the film room — the same is true for every type of work.
4. Create A Situational Playbook And Game Plan
There’s an art to calling plays on the fly during a football game, but every coach comes in with a specific game plan and a situational playbook.
They’ve considered in advance how best to attack their opponent and what plays they want to run in specific situations like a 4th and 1 or two-minute drill.
This preparation helps them be more efficient because they know in advance, “When this happens, I’m going to do this.”
Do the same for yourself with common situations you encounter in your own work.
Your “playbook” might include only scheduling meetings before noon, having a templated response to a common question you get, or always choosing the strategy which represents the biggest potential reward — even if it carries the biggest risk.
Going into a day with pre-determined situational strategies will make your life easier and work more consistent.
5. Create A “Season” For Your Work And Schedule “Games” You Can Win Or Lose
Football coaches always knows where they stand because they’ve got a clear won-loss record that reflects it.
They also know how that record situates them in pursuit of their larger goal because they’re playing in a season with a definitive end point.
They know they need to win a certain number of games in order to get to the playoffs for example, even if they don’t know exactly what that number is.
While the metrics around your work goals may be more obtuse, you can still adapt a similar approach.
Your version of a “game” may be a week where you win or lose based on how many products you sell, or sales calls you make.
Your “season” might be a three-month time period during which you need to win enough “games” to make the “playoffs,” which could be your overall sales goal.
Use whatever metrics you want to track wins and losses and set whatever parameters you want to define your season, but doing so will help you keep on track and improve your performance.
It also just might make your work more fun.
6. Run A System That Amplifies Your Strengths
This final tip may be the most important.
No matter your job, approach your work day in a way that optimizes for your personal strengths as opposed to spending a lot of your time doing things which you struggle to do.
There’s more than one way to “win.” Great coaches understand this and adapt their strategy to reflect the unique strengths of their teams.
A coach with a superstar quarterback won’t run an offense centered around a running back (at least not if he wants to win).
So, if you’re a great writer, why are you podcasting and not writing?
If you’re great at networking with people in-person, why are you spending the majority of your time sending cold emails to prospects?
Build a system around your superpowers, regardless of what the conventional wisdom — or the rest of the “league” in football terms — is doing.
That’s how you win your work day.