Administrators today are faced with shrinking budgets and personnel shortages resulting in more work needing to be done by fewer people. Working harder is not the answer as administrators are pulled from one project to the next.
Administrators struggle to find time to look to the future and work on long-term projects that impact strategic plans and longterm progress toward mission and vision. Often, those individuals describe their job more as firefighter than a leader which, ultimately, hinders their impact on young people and community relationships.
How does it get better? Unfortunately, any changes with these challenges would be in closed offices or in legislative meetings in the capital as budgets and personnel allocations are made. These issues are usually out of the control of the local administrator, so tips and tricks are necessary to be more efficient and better organized to improve productivity and effectiveness.
One such tip is the use of electronic organizational methods, and a common practice among administrators is the idea of Management by Walking Around. This practice allows administrators to see immediate reports in action and assess effectiveness of the program while still checking in to see what needs people have and how to help them succeed. All too often on the walk-around, the administrator acquires several unrelated items to add to the “To Do List” when he or she returns to the office.
There are a number of resources available to help alleviate this problem; however, choosing a method can be as overwhelming as the list itself. The one resource that most administrators have today is a smartphone, and there are a number of resources specific to this device that can assist. A simple Google search for “Electronic To Do List” will deliver countless choices. So, where do you start?
The major players in the industry for electronic task lists are Wunderlist, Any.do, Todoist, Omnifocus, Remember the Milk and Clear. There are, of course, other useful apps on the market as well, but these seem to be the “go to” options for people looking to get better organized.
It is important to try a number of apps to figure out what works best with individual needs; however, it is often important to hear from people in the industry about how they put tools to use.
Among the aforementioned apps, Todoist is the choice of many. This app is free with a paid upgrade that allows access to advanced features. Todoist allows the administrator to create a task list associated with specific projects, giving each task its own due date. It is also possible to assign tasks from a project to another person.
Imagine creating a task list of everything that needs to be done for an Annual Awards Night and sharing that project with individual coaches. Each coach could have tasks associated with the event including verifying lettermen lists or sending invitations. Once completed, the item is checked off and everyone associated is notified.
Todoist allows users to set automatic reminders for things like eligibility and other important due dates and forget about them until they are due. It also allows users to add items as they come up during the day, scheduling a time to work on the item, thus keeping the person moving forward to focus more on strategic planning items rather than the mundane daily tasks associated with putting out fires. With the Todoist app, administrators don’t have to remember simple tasks as those events are appropriately scheduled.
Any productivity app can work. Each comes with its own brand of special features and finding one can be a daunting task. The key is to start somewhere. Pick an app and make it a habit. Let it become a part of every activity and refer to it often. In no time, you will find that you are less stressed, more organized and, most importantly, more effective.
Jeff Morris is the head of school and director of athletics at Gray Stone Day School in Misenheimer, North Carolina, where he also is in the midst of terms on the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Board of Directors and the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association Board of Directors. He can be contacted at email@example.com or @jeffmorris_ on Twitter.