The Ultimate Guide to Maximizing Productivity for Busy Baseball or Softball Coaches | Time-Saving Secrets Revealed
March 14, 2023
45 min read
Time is our most valuable asset.
And we interact with its relentless arrow through the mechanism of attention.
If time is money, attention is how we spend it.
Our worst fears about time are summed up by the great Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami:
But another quote, this time by the Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu, strikes to how much agency the spending power of attention really gives us:
“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don't have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don't want to.’”
Learning how to control your daily attentional transactions changes your relationship to time and gives you the power to master your life.
As a baseball or softball coach, you wear a lot of metaphorical hats to go along with your favorite team’s New Era ones.
But advanced time management skills will allow you to be the best possible private instructor and/or team coach and/or recruiting resource and/or sports psychologist and/or inspirational motivator and/or entrepreneur and/or – you get the idea.
The following concepts, guidelines, and tools in this ultimate guide to maximizing productivity for baseball or softball coaches will help you put the chaos into order and quell that Murakami quote that’s been stressing you out since you read it 30 seconds ago.
#Time Wasting Versus Productivity for Baseball and Softball Coaches
What happens when you notice that a whole week has gone by, and you don’t remember what you did nor why so many of the things you had to do are still left undone?
You feel a bit disappointed in yourself. And it’s something we all go through.
This is why time management is as much about making us feel internally more content with ourselves as it is professional or instructional progress.
🚨 Important Note: When we don't know how our minutes, hours, and days are being allocated, we often feel incompetent. The negative thoughts we have about ourselves are fed, and goals sit unmet and taunting in the far off distance.
On the other end of the spectrum, some coaches do the complete opposite, devoting their lives to working while burning themselves out in the process.
An overworked baseball or softball coach is one likely neglecting their physical and psychological health through an abundance of stress, nonexistent sleeping hours, and diets chaulk-filled with greasy napkins and condiment packets that you’d be embarrassed to have your ballplayers, lesson students, or social media followers see you eating with such regularity.
It’s not a badge of honor to not have enough time to rest, decompress, or sit down to eat a proper meal. All of this to go after some fool's gold gilded grail engraved with the word “productive.”
This accumulated fatigue eventually leads to overall burnout and sometimes worse. In the marathons of life and business, burnout causes a halt to the compounding effects of your great efforts and hurts you in the longest run.
#Where Do Baseball and Softball Professionals Waste Time?
Do you often find yourself thinking about what you should do instead of actually doing it?
Or spending hours scribbling to-do lists that turn into mostly an annotated catalog of undone regrets?
Becoming conscious of the problem and diagnosing how it manifests in our lives must be our first steps toward change.
Let’s start with the things or habits that waste your time in the first place.
#1. Worrying About Wasting Time (and worrying, in general)
Have you ever obsessed about how “productive” a particular activity is or isn’t, and beat yourself up for untrackable beats of time over it?
This bad habit consumes us and easily traps us into self-criticism. Thinking our self-worth is linked to how much we get done is a first-principle error.
What’s worse is that this worrying hijacks our ability to act boldly, think rationally, and bars our entrance into truly productive flow states.
Just in case you’ve never heard of this concept before, a flow state, in this context, describes a period of time in which a coach is flooded with feelings of energized focus, immersion, and joy while engaging in an activity.
Flow states for coaches might happen when hitting infield/outfield to a team, working toward a real breakthrough with a private instruction student, or creating educational Coachpreneur content for social media.
The internet is a borough of infinite rabbit holes – a select few lead to nourishing food worth stowing away for winter (true learnings), but most are dead ends, not worth the time and energy each digital footfall took to get there.
Conserve your personal attention as much as possible while wading into these cavernous hollows.
This time-wasting pitfall is almost a given these days, but it still impedes so many coaches' progress.
Endless scrolling on sites and social media feeds looking at what others are doing instead of working on building up your own team or business isn't beneficial to your mental or physical well-being, nor for your success.
Wanna grow your baseball or softball coaching brand?
Get connected to new local and online lesson clients—along with all the tools you need to scale.
Giving yourself too much time to finish a task that you easily could've done sooner is a foolproof ritual for summoning distraction – especially the unhelpful and unrelated variety.
You know that sudden urge to organize your desk?
This principle is known as the Parkinson's Law.
When we have a longer deadline to finish a task, our brains automatically take this fact to mean that the task is proportionally challenging, meaning we think it’s harder than it really is.
Here’s another quote from the Journal of Consumer Research on what they term the Mere Deadline effect, to drive this point home:
“Contrary to the common belief that having more time facilitates goal pursuit by allowing for more flexibility and fewer restrictions, the current work argues that long deadlines may produce unintended detrimental consequences on goal pursuit.”
Multitasking makes us less efficient, damages our brain (yes, seriously), and increases our stress levels.
Trying to do multiple things at once will only lead to none of them being done properly – if you complete them at all.
Let’s try to illustrate it:
Can you focus on scouting for talent at a local high school game in person while simultaneously watching another game live on your mobile device and texting back and forth with two friends, all the while accurately accessing and analyzing what’s going on and who’s worth follow-up watches in both games?
The honest answer is most likely a resounding no.
🧢 Reality Check: You might think that your brain can do two things or more at once, but all it’s really doing is jumping from one thing to the other, back and forth. And with each mental jump, more time, energy, and comprehension are lost.
In the next section, we’ll go deeper into why these jumps are so wasteful.
But first, let’s explain how multitasking can actually damage your brain. Cause that might feel like a bold claim.
Research from the University of Sussex compared the brain structures of multitaskers and non-multitaskers through MRI scans and found that high multitaskers had decreased brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex. This part of the brain handles empathy and emotional control.
Empathy and emotional control are a big part of what makes us human – not to mention that they are often at the innermost core of effective baseball or softball coaching.
Then, there is a study from the University of London looking at multitasking’s effect on IQ. The study showed that folks who multitasked experienced marked decreases in their IQ points – all the way down to the average level of an 8-year old child.
If you ever worked with a hitting lesson student as young as 8-years old, keep their attention span and ability to grasp and execute what you’re trying to teach them firmly in mind while you yourself are multitasking on three things at once.
Moreover, there’s a fuel and energy conservation problem inherent to multitasking. Under normal conditions, the brain uses up quite a bit of our body’s energy reserves to power its processes.
But, as neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, puts it:
Lastly, the research-backed chart from the APA below showcases how the task-switching that occurs during multitasking leads to significantly more errors.
Whether on the field or working in their entrepreneurial capacity, baseball and softball coaches can’t afford to make avoidable mistakes and errors in judgment.
Frequent interruptions, when added up throughout a day, can constitute a pretty large chunk of time.
This is obvious, but the problem is that distractions today are more prevalent and, if digital in origin, intentionally more appealing than ever before.
Researchers have found that it can take up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds for your mind to be truly focused once it returns to a given task.
Going back to our attention-as-commerce idea, you pay a 23 minute and 15 second fine for every single distraction that you allow to come your way.
Major culprits of interruption, of course, are the dopamine-factories we collectively call social media platforms.
If you’re having trouble with this particular distraction, there are (ironically) plenty of apps and software to help you wean yourself off social media.
But for many baseball and softball coaches, an equally common problem is taking on more than you can handle.
If you spend the time to map and consciously lay out your schedule, it helps reframe the unpleasant act of saying “No” to those trying to scoop new morsels onto your already full plate into a matter of pragmatic necessity that cannot be negotiated.
🧢 Pro Tip: Creating an honest schedule that actually details how much of your time and energy will be required for each task can act as Teflon against the tendency to spread yourself too thin.
Log every hidden hour here and there that putting on a clinic, managing a team, or giving private lessons truly eats up, and you will be on your way to more easily deflecting the emotional appeals of colleagues to add another clinic date to an already packed month, or clients asking you to rush across town for an in-person lesson because they can’t make it to your normal field or batting cage facility.
As Steve Jobs said, “It’s only by saying ‘no’ that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
With the incessant chattering your mind is making on a daily basis, knowing when to silence all of that noise is essential for your well-being.
Just as much as you train your body, meditation will help you train your mind and strengthen its focusing abilities.
A study with University of Miami D1 football players discovered that those who engaged with regular mindfulness type meditations during periods of intense physical and mental preseason challenges, showed “considerable mental resilience, with higher scores than the other athletes in either group on the measures of both attention and mood.”
Meditation can make you acutely aware of your attention and how it’s spent, further empowering you in your relationship with time.
Even just a few minutes per day can have a considerable mental effect overtime.
When practicing, remove physical and digital distractions by choosing a quiet place and turning off your phone by silencing or putting it on airplane mode.
If you've never meditated before, here's how to start.
☯️ Meditation Practice:
Begin by breathing deeply from the abdomen and allow yourself to become aware of any thoughts as they come in and fade out of being.
Do not try to control or shape these thoughts as they come and go, just observe. That's it.
But, like so many worthwhile things, it's much easier said than done.
If you want more complete directions with guided audio help on how to get started with mindfulness meditation, check out this in-depth starting guide.
#The Pomodoro Technique for Baseball and Softball Coaches
What is the Pomodoro technique?
This method helps you to commit to intensely focusing on one task at a time and going at it for 25 minutes straight with no interruptions whatsoever.
Whether you’re working on lineups, inputting and analyzing your team’s stats, giving a series of online hitting analysis lessons with different students, or batch-creating videos and graphics for your personal brand’s social media, the pomodoro technique is a winning formula for coaches.
It is broken down into essentially three easy recurring steps:
Pick the task you want to work on
Set a timer to 25 minutes and work on the chosen task for the entire stretch of this time. It’s crucial for you to use an actual timer, this is what pushes your mind to commit to the task and not wander off
Take a 5-minute break
Work another 25 minutes
Take your 5-minute break
Add another 25 minutes
Have your 5-minute break
Start your last 25 minutes
This time, take a longer 15-20-30 minute long break
As you can see, this technique consists of 4 rounds of 25-minute focus, with each giving you a mini-break and, once on the 4th round, a longer respite.
If you don't want to use an old fashioned kitchen timer or just your phone’s native timer, three minimalistic apps that we recommend trying are Forest, Tide, or Focus.
What to remember about this technique as described, is that it is only a template, a general way for you to get started without feeling daunted by the tasks you have at hand.
The minutes and break times can be modified and altered to fit you and your own personal workflow.
#Time Management Techniques for Maximizing the Productivity of Baseball or Softball Coaches
We all have the same 24 hours in our day.
It’s how we decide to use up that time that makes a difference. These 24 hours are the world’s great equalizer.
As we hinted earlier, before you put anything down on calendars and productivity lists, it is crucial to have accurate estimates of how long each task will take you.
This step can’t be skipped.
We, as people, tend to underestimate the amount of time it actually takes to do something.
If you’re curious, this tendency is due to what scientists would describe as the planning fallacy working in combination with what they call optimism bias.
But for our purposes here, these baked-in human biases are why your best bet is to track your time instead of guesstimating – at least initially.
Yes, doing this is a bit tedious, but you only need to do it once – or a couple of times if you’re really thorough – and you’ll have a quantified time amount per task to work from indefinitely.
With these time amounts, you will be able to start crafting your personally optimized time-saving system.
One way to measure things is by using the built-in timer on your phone, but you can also download time-tracking apps specifically made for this endeavor, like Timely or Toggl.
Time-tracking aside, for coaches who prefer visuals, like flipping through a season's worth of scorebooks, check out a model of how people actually pursue goals, which was recently put together by psychological researchers.
How prominent both “Self-Regulation” and “Planning” are to the “Goal Setting/Activation” part of the diagram should help inspire you to internalize and execute on the following sections of this guide – which are filled with self-managing and planning techniques that will make your life easier and consistently keep you on mission.
When you have a long list of things to do, how do you usually go about it?
If you’re like most people, you probably start off with the easiest tasks and leave the hardest ones for later.
But starting with the hardest task that requires the most energy and effort is what most time management experts would actually recommend.
Without properly prioritizing your various tasks, you will end up spending more time on those tasks you could’ve gone without while neglecting the ones that should be getting the majority of your attention.
This is potentially even more important for soloentrepenuers (like many baseball and softball coaches) than the rest of the population.
For busy Coachpreneurs, there’s no designated team of professionals with which to split up tasks.
If you’re a private lesson instructor, for example, you are charged with the following – at minimum:
Finding new clients and growing your personal brand both online and off-line, which might entail generating and curating social media content, handing out or posting flyers at local leagues, and managing various online listings for your lesson services.
Responding to and following up with all new lesson parent leads – sometimes across multiple communication channels.
Managing all lesson on-time payments and subscriptions for bundles, and tracking these payments and your expenses for taxes.
Accurately scheduling online or in-person lessons with your clients new and old.
Also, there’s scheduling with the training facility or field you're using, if in-person, or setting up your workspace in a timely manner for conducting remote lessons.
Finally, there’s giving your actual private lessons in a way that provides amazing knowledge and value to all of your clients.
If you add coaching a team, running camps or clinics, or selling other services, like online courses, affiliate products, or branded merchandise on top of giving in-person or remote private instruction, you can quickly see that each business-related task that you choose to engage in must be prioritized by how much it moves the needle toward your long-term goals.
Of course, these extensive coaching business needs are part of what inspired us to create SeamsUp, which handles all the business admin tasks above and more on auto-pilot, so you can just show up and teach the game you love.
You can simplify your day and save time by creating easy to manage to-do lists.
Our first to-do list recommendation is to write everything in one place.
This place can be an old school notebook, in your phone’s Notes app, on a Google Doc, etc.
But once you choose the pace, proceed to break every task down neatly by month, week, daily, home, work, and any other categories that fit your lifestyle.
Key focus points when creating your to do lists:
Make sure tasks align with your long term goals
Have the most urgent task on top, and the rest following in order of importance
Make them clear, measurable and time sensitive, think:
“3x5 back squats, leg presses, walking lunges, 3x10 box jumps, and 2x wall-sits to failure. 2 hours and 15 minutes total time with warmup, training, cool down, shower, and drive time to the gym and back factored in.”
As opposed to simply writing “train today.”
If you're still a bit overwhelmed by all this to-do list talk, you can try the simple 1-3-5 rule devised by Betty Lui.
She is the executive vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, so she knows a thing or two about productivity.
Lui limits herself to a total of 9 tasks each day, prioritized as 1 big thing, 3 medium things, and 5 small things.
A schedule planner is a structured document separated into multiple columns that allows you to fill in the open fields and customize things as you like.
You can choose to create these by hand with paper or a whiteboard, create your template digitally from scratch by using Word, Excel, GoogleSheets, or Numbers (setting up different columns with the date, day, time, and task name), or download a free template online pre-made by others.
Below are a few of the free templated planners available online.
Drafting your calendar’s content ahead of time to set the tone for your upcoming week is a major component of time management.
Pre-scheduling allows you to:
Get your high-priority tasks done on time
Keep yourself on track for longer time-horizon projects
Know exactly when you’ll have that extra time for leisure.
Bonus Tip: Actually schedule your free time on your calendar.
Remember the little tasks you would’ve otherwise forgotten with a chaotic schedule
Have a set time somewhere in your day to deal with the unexpected events you might encounter. You always want to leave room for the unexpected.
All of these basic things will act to reduce the levels of anxiety you’re experiencing related to being unproductive and mitigate the sensation of not having “enough time” to do the things you want to accomplish.
But most of these tactics above are pretty instinctual to do. Let’s get into some more advanced time management strategies.
#Daily Themes and Task Batching for Baseball and Softball Coaches
Having a consistent routine that you follow for all the days of the week is also a well known and effective time management method.
There are two different styles often associated with this method: day theming and task batching.
Day theming means having a task – or multiple tasks of similar nature – to get done exclusively on a specific day of the week.
Here’s an example that may be worth trying out for yourself:
🗃️📊 Mondays: are for doing the administrative work of both my professional and personal life as well as checking and analyzing all my business health metrics.
💪🧢 Tuesdays: are for personal strength training in the morning and giving private in-person lessons at an indoor facility in the late afternoon and evening.
📲⚾️ Wednesdays: are for doing a week's worth of online lesson clients throughout the day
💡🤳 Thursdays: are for social media ideation and content creation for the coming week.
🧠🏞️ Fridays: are for personal care in the morning and, after school gets out, holding my group fielding clinics at a local park.
Task batching is slightly different from day theming because it is about allocating specific times during each day that will be used solely to accomplish specific tasks.
Though it’s sometimes not possible, experts in this style do still try to batch activities of a similar nature together, so switching to the next task requires a less jarring mental reset.