Softball season is in full-swing, no pun intended. This time of the year, athletes often find themselves with their plates full of sport obligations, school obligations, and social obligations. Time-Management and routine were things instilled in me from an early age, and I am so thankful to my parents because of it. There are some things I wished I would have listened to earlier in my life, in middle school and high school specifically, that would have make the shock of college a bit smoother. I remember having AP classes in high school while playing multiple sports, and instead of me taking ownership of my schedule, my mom just did it for me! I'm super grateful for that, obviously, but it was hard when my mom couldn't do it once I got to Alabama. I was on my own and it was hard. It took about a year or so to adjust and to be honest with you, there are still some things I am trying to get better at in terms of managing my time and productivity effectively. There are three key things that have helped me manage my time better during a busy season: Stress-Relieving Activities, Planning your Planning, and Prioritization.
Some sort of physical activity is such a crucial step, yet for most people, this is the very thing they skip once they get busy! Especially with high school athletes, the excuse I hear all time is "I just don't have time to get to the gym, I have school and practice!" First of all, in college, you WILL work out during season, so there is no excuse why you shouldn't get used to it now. But, second, exercise is the biggest scientific stress relief that we have ever found! Exercise reduces the levels of the body's stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. It also increases the production of endorphins, which are the body's natural painkiller and mood enhancer. In addition, the most basic fundamental truth of exercises is that it increases the flow of blood in your body, this includes TO YOUR BRAIN! More blood to the brain equals more alertness, clarity, and focus, all of which are necessary to manage your time in the most effective way. So, feeling stressed and overwhelmed because you have so much on your plate? Get to the gym, take a walk outside, pull up a You-Tube video of your favorite yoga flow, and get yourself some mental clarity.
Planning your Planning is a great strategy because if you truly set aside time to plan your life, you will do it. Have 15-20 minutes each week of UNDISTRACTED planning. Write out your schedule either in a planner, on a white board, or even just a piece of paper. I highly recommend organizing things into 30 minute or 60 minute windows. You would be surprised how much we can accomplish if we devote a full, undistracted half hour of full hour to any task. By eliminating things like your cell phone, Netflix, even music, more hours of your day will open up and your productivity will soar.
While planning, organize those 30 minute and 60 minute windows of your time by prioritizing your tasks. Ask yourself: "What's Important?" "What can wait?" and "What can I get ahead on this week?" The best diagram I have seen is the one below. Place your important/urgent tasks early in the week and make sure to get them done. Your important/not urgent tasks should only be completed only after your most urgent/important tasks. This box is what would like answer the question: "What can I get ahead on this week?" Your urgent, but not important tasks, try to delegate to someone else. For example, if you are like me and were in a few student organizations that require a lot of work and planning, try to delegate as much of that process as you can. The best leaders often empower those that follow them, so not only are you developing leaders, you are managing YOUR precious time much more effectively. It should go without saying, but for the sake of explanation, your not urgent/not important tasks, just cut them out!! There is no need to clutter your brain and productivity with things that are not necessary (hello, social media, I'm definitely talking to you.)
Time management is so important to your success not only in softball, but in the rest of your life. There will always be things to do and goals to accomplish. I truly believe that improving at time management skills now will set a crucial foundation for your success in whatever you try to pursue. Stay organized, plan things out, and attack your goals!!