At the upcoming (17th May) Club Managers Leadership and Management webinar on work priorities, we will be running through a number of time management practices and techniques. One of these is routines.
As a club manager, a powerful, productivity maximising tool that you have in your armoury is routine. Routines simplify, clarify, create order, give symmetry and provide familiarity during the workday. And in times of chaos and high-stress situations, they are guiding lights in a storm.
As the saying goes “We are what we repeatedly do.” (Will Durant). So, routines are far more than daily productivity techniques, they form the basis of career successes and overall mental and physical well-being.
In terms of neurology, we like routines because the brain doesn’t have to overthink and work hard on the common actions we do daily. Research suggests that around 40% of the tasks we complete during the day are unconscious actions, powered by the routines we have developed over time. During these times, when ‘auto-pilot’ is engaged, the brain is freed up to concentrate on other, more important things.
However, the converse of this is that our brains can get caught in a routine-loop and prevent us from doing something different or new. We can become creatures of habit, and this can impact our creativity and detract from our ability to progress and move forward.
With such a diversity of tasks, club managers will naturally develop different routines for different parts of their day. You may be in recruitment mode in the morning and then have to compile the financials for the upcoming board meeting that afternoon. So, another part of the equation is the ability to smoothly switch between tasks and set in motion another routine.
A routine is a series of actions completed on a recurring basis. Whether we recognise them or not, we all have routines. For example, we will naturally fall into an incredibly similar pattern each morning – exercise, shower, get dressed, have breakfast etc. Our workdays will also gravitate to some level of routine. However, what isn’t common is a conscious approach to creating a routine that maximises efficiency, effectiveness and productivity.
One thing that doesn’t work, in crafting a better routine, is copying the routines of successful business people or entrepreneurs. Just because Steve Jobs used to get up every morning at 3.45 am doesn’t mean that will work for you.
One of the first things to recognise in considering your approach to creating routines is your energy level or your prime time. Individual energy levels fluctuate during the day according to sensory input from the environment and our inbuilt body clock (the circadian rhythm). Matching daily tasks to energy levels and mood will boost productivity and help you sustain performance throughout the day.
Everyone has their unique energy cycle. By knowing your prime time – your peak and non-peak energy periods, you can establish routines that suit you and your energy levels. For example, if you’re not really a morning person, create a morning routine that tackles the repetitive and mundane tasks, leaving the afternoon routine for more creative pursuits.
Another thing to consider, when creating your work routine, are distractions, interruptions and those times of the day when other people may be demanding your attention. A change of shift or the busy lunchtime rush may be periods when you are called away from what you’re doing. At times like this, you don’t want your focus to be pulled away from that high-level project you’re concentrating on.
The most important thing about creating a routine is implementing it and sticking to it.
Routines give you structure; a timeline or schedule to help you map out and tackle your day or week with a sense of certainty and rhythm. However, your overall daily or weekly routine will be made up of a series of specific routines. For example, you may have a routine for collating, analysing and compiling your actuals versus budgeted expense report for the month. And you may have a routine for your weekly check-in with your team to collaborate and communicate with them about their individual KPIs and objectives.
These two tasks are quite different and if you have scheduled to do them one after the other you will need to shift your focus from one to the next. In theory, this sounds simple, however, our brains don’t allow us to switch off and on as easily as that. You may be able to physically commence the next task, but part of your brain may still be working on the original task. In the above example, you may be talking to one of your team about their performance and development plans, but part of your brain is still crunching those expense figures. If this is the case, you are not giving your team member your undivided attention and you may not be actively listening.
To overcome this, we need a trigger to tell our brain we have finished working on that task and are moving on to a new one. These triggers are certain behaviours that signify and note an important change is taking place. The trigger can be the same each time, but they are a powerful message that jolts the brain, telling it to move on.
And, whilst they are powerful and important behaviours, triggers can be just about anything and incredibly simple. Whether it’s making a cup of coffee, squeezing a stress ball twenty times or going for a quick walk around the block, the activity itself doesn’t matter, it’s what it symbolises to you.
The Power of Triggers
As well as assisting you to be in better control of your day and efficiently move from one task or routine to the next, triggers can have some additional benefits. Research has shown triggers can be used to reduce stress before commencing tough tasks, coping with difficult situations or improving performance. Think about some of the rituals high-profile sportspeople go through that they attribute to their successes. The triggers or rituals of a lot of leaders, entrepreneurs and creative people seem quite ridiculous from an outsider’s perspective. But that’s not important, the point is they are a catalyst for a change of focus or a different way of thinking.
All of this is because our subconscious behaviours drive our conscious thoughts. When we repeat a behaviour or trigger, that we have associated with a certain task, it drives our conclusions. It can tell us to focus on a new task or motivate us to achieve an outcome we desire.
The day in the life of a club manager can fly past in the blink of an eye. Establishing routines provides the structure to position your day or week to maximise productivity. And triggers help you transition through the day and potentially help you cope and adapt when you are thrown that inevitable ‘curveball’.
If you would like to join the 17th May webinar to explore this, and other goal-setting, prioritising and time management methods please go to https://www.elevateb.com.au/club-managers-webinar-may17