This month, 837 incoming, current, and former NCAA student-athletes will compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil. 135 of these individuals are current student-athletes who somehow manage to balance all of their school, sport, and olympic training obligations. These individuals are world-class athletes, but their ability to effectively manage their time is an equally impressive feat.
Training for the Olympics can be like a full-time job in and of itself. Whereas a typical student-athlete might spend over 20 hours per week on athletic-related activities, the average Olympic athlete spends an estimated 36 hours per week training. What’s more, some Olympic athletes sleep for as much as 9-10 hours each night to recover from their strenuous training.
We can learn a lot about time management from Olympic athletes and student-athletes, alike. Here’s a quick summary of some of the most important tips for effective time management offered by current and former Olympic athletes.
Make a Schedule
Creating a detailed schedule each week can help you get more done by organizing various activities based on their priority. Transferring your mental to-do list onto a physical schedule can also make you feel less overwhelmed, allowing you to focus your energy and attention on completing tasks instead. Finally, scheduling helps you track your time more closely, giving you an insight into how effectively you’re spending your time and where you might be wasting it.
Learn to say “No”
Learning to say no means identifying those activities that really aren’t that important. This can be difficult, since these are usually recreational activities with friends. The fear of missing out can sometimes prompt us to spend our time engaged in less-productive activities, but there are easy ways to say “no.” Using phrases like “I can’t this time” or “I really appreciate you thinking of me, but I’ve just got too much on my plate right now” will let your friends know that you appreciate the invitation and you’d still like to be invited in the future. Saying “no” can be hard at first, but it gets easier as you become more disciplined.
Set Weekly, Attainable Goals
Setting clear, daily or weekly goals allows you to focus your efforts on specific tasks in order to get more done. Setting goals has been empirically shown to improve productivity. However, you’re unlikely to see results if you set goals haphazardly. Setting SMART goals is one way to improve your likelihood of achieving them. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Using SMART as a framework allows you to set goals in a way that maximizes your chances of success.
Get More Rest
This tip might seem a little counterintuitive. How can you get more done if you spend more time sleeping? The answer has to do with how getting an adequate amount of sleep affects our productivity. Individuals who are sleep deprived have been shown to demonstrate declining cognitive performance along with lower levels of learning and memorization. Conversely, well-rested individuals who get at least 7 hours of sleep each night have been shown to be faster at problem solving and more productive overall. It’s pretty simple—get more sleep, get more done.
These are just a few ways to work like an Olympic athlete and manage your time more effectively.
What are some of the techniques you use to you do to get more done in less time?