By David Gould, Staff Editor
According to the bestselling author Elizabeth G. Saunders, “People who violate your boundaries are thieves—they steal time that doesn’t belong to them.” That quote from a Saunders book on “time investment” (she prefers the phrase over “time management”) echoed a suggestion we’ve heard over the years from Proponent Group members. You could boil it down to this: “Part company, if you can, with the highest-maintenance types in your life.”
One member used the comparison of high schools trying to to save electricity and not being able to do it until they installed light switches with built-in timers. Likewise, in order to save water, big institutions had to install faucets that automatically shut off after a few seconds. For coaches this compares directly to the structure of the lesson time slot. “An hour lesson can’t mean the full hour,” one of them pointed out. “Students have to be trained that by a quarter to the hour their session is ended.” For that to be enforced, a coach may have to emulate the high school light switch and set an audible timer that signals the formal end of the lesson. The busier you get the more structure you need, is one way of looking at it. To enforce that structure you have to practice saying ‘No’ without actually using the word ‘No.’
For many Proponent members, time management is critical to fatigue prevention and the quality-of-life watchword that says we must balance work and play. It’s been noticed that instructors tend to schedule personal break time then renege on that promise to themselves. The concept of the “starter’s time” inserted into the teaching book is one coaches can relate to, even when the main function is to get back on schedule and thereby accommodate students, rather than forcing them to wait.
All the better, however, if that empty block in the book gets used as “me time.” It goes in there to provide an opportunity for record-keeping, correspondence and general problem-solving during the normal work day.
The relationship between time and money is integral to all this strategizing. We’ve heard from Proponent members that having too many people on discounted programs is an easily missed weakness in the teaching operation—one that silently forces more hours to be worked. Taking a different perspective, coaches also opt to collecting a small group of students into a remnant time slot so that several no answers can become a ‘Yes.’
Some suggestions are extremely simple and practical. For example, having students set up their own stations along the lesson tee. This was seen as a good time-saver especially when teaching juniors.
Making time for social-media communications is a hot button. Some coaches feel that a few blocks of lesson time might be worth trading each week for social media time. Others were wary of social media’s capacity to consume excessive hours in the work week.
For the peace and quiet that provides optimal recharge of energy, members liked the idea of heading “off-campus” during the lunch period, getting to a quiet place, eating slowly, listening to music and otherwise lowering the stress factor. Turning off the telephone at bedtime was a similar “boundary” suggestion. Use your voicemail greeting as a guide to callers regarding the timetable for your call-back. Changing the greeting may be necessary more often than you realize, based on your schedule and whereabouts.
There is no shortage of commentary or quotable quotes on this age-old subject. One of the most resonant comes from the consultant and bestselling business author Peter Drucker. “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else,” Drucker observed. That’s a terse statement, and a true one—well worth remembering as you step back between seasons and rethink how you go about your work.