In a previous article, we detailed the power and productivity gains that establishing repeatable daily actions or routines can bring to club managers. In that article, we also touched on the notion of prime time. The two concepts are tenably related.
Establishing personal routines without reference to your own prime time can be counter-productive. There are many examples, in business, of managers, attempting to replicate the routines of their mentors or peers only to struggle and conclude it doesn’t work for them.
Many so-called experts are exposing the benefits of waking up early, having a cold shower, exercising, meditating, writing in a journal, reading the news, setting goals and eating a protein-rich breakfast – all before 7.30 am! That might work for them and a handful of others but it’s based on their own ‘map of the world’.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a ‘Gazelle’ and spring out of bed around 6 am and hit the road running, or a ‘Bear’ that functions better in the late morning, afternoon or night. Everyone has a different prime time and productivity improvements can be the result of learning when you work and feel your best in order to make the most out of your day.
“Your internal prime time is the time of day, according to your body clock, when you are the most alert and productive.”
Understanding and utilising your prime time makes you more effective in task completion and prevents you from wasting your best time and energy periods on non-productive things. If your prime time is between 5.00 pm and 7.00 pm and society says that’s the time to stop work – that’s crazy!
Harnessing your prime time also keeps you motivated, helps you move through that to-do-list, and prevents you from feeling overwhelmed. It is an important element in achieving work and life satisfaction.
Rhythms and Cycles
As part of Chronobiology, scientists study the human body’s natural rhythms and cycles.
Our daily cycle is known as our circadian rhythm which includes our waking and sleep cycles, as well as the fluctuations in our body temperature, and hormone levels. This is the basis of distinguishing ‘Gazelles’ from ‘Bears’.
During our daily cycle, we also experience ultradian rhythms – cycles that run for about 90 to 120 minutes and cause the peaks and throughs we feel throughout the day. Ultradian rhythms explain why we can start a task with exuberance and excitement and a couple of hours later feel the need to wander off, and find a snack or check our Facebook feeds.
Given the influence, our personal rhythms and cycles have on productivity and work/life balance, it’s good to get a handle on how they work for you. Mapping your energy peaks and throughs can help you work with them and plan your time to maximise your prime time.
Whilst it sounds monotonous, tracking your motivation, focus and energy levels over a few weeks can provide you with a great insight on how your body functions during the day. When patterns begin to emerge, your awareness will be heightened and you will make decisions to your advantage, even subconsciously.
Using your Prime Time
Once you’ve determined your prime time, the next question is how do you make the most of it? A natural and appropriate thought is to get stuck into those priority/important tasks and undertake the jobs that require your deep concentration and focus.
Another theory suggests that during your prime time you are at your creative best and your mind is best positioned to solve problems and generate ideas and concepts that are new and refreshing and can provide a whole new outlook on work and life.
Steven Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, refers to this as ‘Sharpening the Saw’. Instead of doing things the way they have always been done and possibly using dull tools, take some time out to sharpen the saw. A sharper saw will cut through things faster and make your task completion more effective and efficient.
A technique for doing this is known as intentional writing. During your prime time, instead of working on a specific project or task, take out a blank piece of paper and start writing about a generic problem or something that’s on your mind. At the beginning of a session, your writing will probably be just incoherent ramblings, however as ideas and concepts start to develop your document will come together and you will have something meaningful as the basis for an email, a presentation or a meeting agenda.
As a club manager, you can wear many hats but there are two distinct styles you employ during your working week – a manager and a strategist.
As a manager, you need to meet and collaborate with team members, patrons and guests, suppliers and contractors.
As a strategist, your role is to build the club and the team members in it. You need to be creative and think of new ways of doing things, new tactics and better ways to promote and run your club.
And in recognition of these two styles, and with an awareness of your prime time, you need to manage your schedule accordingly.
A manager’s schedule is typically broken into one-hour blocks - time for a meeting, sending emails, checking the monthly accounts. You can block out a couple of hours for a single task but generally, you are moving from one task to the next, quite rapidly.
On the other hand, as a strategist, you need a schedule which allows more time to be creative – usually half-day periods as a minimum. You’ve probably experienced that it’s hard to think and be creative in a one-hour block, especially if there are meetings either side of that hour you’ve scheduled for strategic planning. When you need to be strategic, scheduling your day into bite-sized, unusable chunks is incredibly unproductive. Having a whole day free, with no appointments at all, can be quite uplifting.
The reality is, having ‘whole free days’, is a fairy-tale. So, club managers should look to split their days into two. Depending on your determined prime-time, spend half the day wearing your strategist’s hat and the other half the day, broken into one-hour blocks, to work through your meetings and other managerial tasks and commitments.
Downtime and rest are essential. It’s well documented that time away from the club re-energizes your spirit and body. This includes both a couple of days each week as well as regular annual holidays, for a minimum of two to three weeks a time.
Traditional societal thinking suggests that when we are not at our place of work, we are not working. However, recent productivity studies challenge this notion. One 2016 study revealed that 72% of people get creative ideas in the shower. Whether it’s in the shower or sitting on the deck with a morning coffee, relaxation promotes creative thinking. Which is why we have brain waves or new ideas pop into our heads when we are not actually ‘at work’.
Promoting this and giving your mind time to wander can inspire lateral thinking and foster great ideas and strategies. There are many ways to do this including meditation, making time and room for solitude or simply taking a half-hour stroll to clear your mind and reconfigure your thinking.
And undertaking these activities during your prime time can be even more helpful.
As a club manager, you can also assist others in relaxing and recharging their batteries by ensuring they actually use their accrued holidays and perhaps allowing flexibility in working hours to suit their individual rhythms and prime time.
With all of this in mind, it is imperative to determine clear boundaries and protect you prime time however you can.
Knowing that your prime time is best suited to the most-brain intensive, more creative or toughest of tasks, schedule this time and limit disruptions.
And remember that routines are a great asset in maximising prime time. Emails are a classic example. Instead of letting emails distract you, allocate a specific time during your day, outside of your prime time, to read and respond to them. To start with, turn off your incoming email alert.
Also, set expectations. If your team members or external parties know you will respond to them fully and completely within 24 hours, it affords you with greater control over your time. – you don’t have to drop everything to reply immediately.
By understanding yourself and your natural cycles and rhythms you will be able to put a plan in place to leverage your prime time and give your personal productivity and work/life satisfaction a boost.
The Club Managers Association of Australia (CMAA) has been supporting and developing club managers to achieve high levels of leadership and management ability for many years. The training and development of knowledgeable and motivated leaders that are capable of achieving greatness on behalf of their clubs is a passion of the CMAA. To this end, they offer the professional certification - the Active Certified Club Managers Award (ACCM).
Individuals who hold the ACCM, have demonstrated that they possess the skills, have the range of knowledge and can model behaviours that drive premium results for their club.
The foundation stone of the ACCM is the Club Managers Leadership and Management program, an online, training course, delivered by elevateB (a specialist training company) and independently endorsed by Australis College (a Registered Training Organisation)
The Club Managers Leadership and Management program has been modelled on the Diploma of Leadership and Management, ensuring it covers a full gambit of management and leadership topics. Importantly, it has been tailored and contextualised for club environments and day to day club management situations. To successfully complete the program, participants are required to demonstrate required knowledge, skills and abilities through application and activity submissions.
For more information on the Club Managers Leadership and Management program, click here.