I recently wrote an article about why I love being an Athletic Director. Check that out here.

I’ve also written before about how Athletic Directors should be evaluated.  You might like that too. 

I thought a great article would be how Athletic Directors should manage their time.  It can be a very burdensome job, and one where you spin your wheels if you don’t have a plan.  A lot of coaches, student-athletes, their parents, teachers, administrators, vendors, facility people, etc. etc. etc. want and need your time as an AD!

Here are 6 Habits of Highly Effective Athletic Directors

TIME MANAGER

The most important trait for an Athletic Director is that of Time Manager.  He/She has got to learn how to effectively manage their time.   An Atheltic Director who does not figure this out will work harder and longer than they need to, and fail to get as most out of their days as possible. 

One way that I’ve been able to manage my time is by making a monthly calendar.  This helps you avoid “floating with the wind” on your time.  Take 30 minutes towards the end of November to plan out your December.  Athletic Directors have a lot of time demands.  If you want to be effective, and in this business a long time, it is important to take control of your time.  There are some weeks you could spend 6 nights a week at the school.  Not smart.  Making use of a monthly calendar will help you to manage your time more wisely.

You either control the time or let the time control you!  Take control of your time!

PRIORITIZATION EXPERT

Again, we come to the idea of “time.”  Highly effective Athletic Directors know how to prioritize their watches, their days and their nights.  With the many demands that come with the job, it is important to make the most of every day.  Relationships are important in this business.  But you need to be aware that sitting around chatting with a coach or coaches needlessly for an hour can be a time drainer.  Encourage them to come to the basketball game to chat, or sit with you as you manage the clock at the baseball game.  This way, you kill two birds with one stone!

Prioritizing your time on a daily basis can be challenging.  Athletic Directors need to come up with their own way to help prioritize that time. 

For instance, obviously in season demands always come first.  I always liked to schedule a meeting with my in season Head Coaches once per week to try hard to be proactive with issues that could come up.  Sometimes, that meeting might be an hour long, sometimes it might be 5 minutes.  But I always kept the same hour long meeting time on the same day all week.  For instance, meeting with my head baseball coach every Tuesday at 10:00 am.  This helped a lot because it kept us both on the same page for the entire season.  And if we only needed 10 minutes, then I had 50 minutes to “catch up” on something else.  But during baseball season, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am, all season long, my calendar said “Head Baseball Coach.”

There are meeting requests that will come up for a team not in season at all.  Those need to go on the back burner if they aren’t from the Head Coach.  That’s one way to try to prioritize your time.

I once had a softball coach who would need 60-90 minutes of my time just to order three softball bats!  I’m not kidding.  So, anytime that coach would want to meet with me out of season, I always scheduled that for a time I was out at a game. Kill two birds with one stone.  That was a great way to prioritize my time. 

Prioritize your time or it will prioritize itself, and you’ll spin a lot of wheels.

DELEGATION EXPERT

Highly effective Athletic Directors have GOT to delegate many aspects of their jobs if they wish to be effective.  For many ADs, this is difficult, because most of them are overachievers, and they want to have their hands in as many aspects of their athletic programs as possible. 

But that leads to burnout, and it leads to becoming ineffective.  So, figure out what can be delegated to your Head Coaches, to their Assistants, to your Administrative Assistant, or to other administrators.  Heck, maybe you can even delegate something to trusted volunteers and Booster Club parents.  Don’t be above asking for help. 

Delegating tasks to others will help you to manage your time more effectively, and it will help you to prioritize your time more efficiently

For instance, let’s say an equipment guy wants to come by to pitch their latest football helmet to you.  Instead of taking that meeting right away, have your football coach meet with him first.  I’ve seen and heard a lot of ADs do this backwards.  They will meet with an equipment or jersey rep for an hour, like what they are pitching, then take it to the Head Coach who doesn’t like it and has valid reasons for whatever might be the case.  Now, the Athletic Director has just wasted an hour. 

Save a whole LOT of time with this manual of more than 100 documents every AD needs! Just cut and paste in your school, and print!

TIMELY COMMUNICATOR

Highly effective Athletic Directors are among the best communicators you know.  They take communication seriously, they are timely in their communication and they are accurate with their communication.  

Most of the time when an Athletic Director gets an email or phone call, the matter is very important to the person on the other end.   Many times it is urgent. 

“The bus isn’t here yet.” 

“The officials haven’t shown up yet.”

 “Is our game at 3:30 or 4:30 today, the opponent is telling me different than what you told me.”

This is why Athletic Directors must be quick and accurate with their communication. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know, find the answer and return the phone call or email quickly.  Don’t leave people out to dry, it doesn’t reflect well on your, the athletic program or the school.

I’ve always told my in season Head Coaches that there is no such thing as after hours for your communication with me.  If it is urgent to you, it is urgent to me, don’t hesitate to contact me.

USE THE PHONE

I don’t think enough people these days use the telephone.  I agree, many times its much easier to just blast off an email.  But many times, Athletic Directors are like firemen or policemen. They are either putting out a fire or investigating something.  Communication on the screen doesn’t come out nearly as well as communication through voice.  If things are getting contentious in an email thread, put a stop to it by picking up the phone.  It can go a long way to help you solve problems.  In fact, in the long run, it will usually save you time because you get to the heart of the matter a lot faster.  Get back to using the phone, you’ll be surprised at how much of a time saver it can actually be.

BE PRESENT FOR THE MAJOR THINGS

Yes, it is important to manage your time. We’ve covered that.  It is important to prioritize your time.  But you’ve got to be at the “major things,” you’ve got to make appearances (at minimum) at what athletes and their parents would consider the major points of the athletic year. 

For instance, banquets.  These can take up a lot of time.  No Athletic Director has the time to sit through 8 Freshman team banquets in one year.  But you should try hard to at least make an appearance.  It tells the parents and athletes that you care.  Better to show up for 20 or 30 minutes, say a few words, then not show up at all.

The absence of the Athletic Director at some events says a lot to parents and kids and coaches.  Again, sitting down at the end of the month, to prepare for the coming month should help with making sure you are present for the “big” things.   Setting your calendar for the “big events” will help you prioritize your time in order to be a highly effective Athletic Director.

Chris Fore has his Masters degree in Athletic Administration, is a Certified Athletic Administrator and serves as an Adjunct Professor in the M.S. Physical Education –  Sports Management program at Azusa Pacific University. He runs Eight Laces Consulting where he specializes in helping coaches nationwide in their job search process.  Fore was named to the Hudl Top 100 in 2017, and the Top 5 Best High School Football Coaches to follow on Twitter by MaxPreps in 2016.  Follow him!

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