One of the most important lessons I learned from Mark McCormack’s What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School is how to better manage my time. McCormack, the founder of IMG and the godfather of sports marketing, lived his life on legal pads and index cards. He was a master planner. Every night before he went to bed, he would write down all the things that he wanted to accomplish the following day on a legal pad, whether it related to personal downtime or business meetings. On the left side of the page, he listed the daily tasks that he needed to get done. On the right side, he wrote down the names of all the people he had to call. He made his schedule much more than a “to-do” list by allocating the proper amount of time to each activity. Mark’s trick was to never under-allocate time, so he could keep up with other tasks and not fall behind. In terms of the index cards, he would carry them around everywhere. They served as a quick place to write things down that came up suddenly throughout the day, whether it was someone he had to call or an idea he wanted to share with a coworker.
Mark’s main message was to adopt a time management system that works best for you. I heeded his advice and imitated what worked so well for him all those years. At first, I tried out the legal pad. I was able to articulate my daily goals much better and organize my schedule accordingly. However, as a college student, having a column dedicated solely to phone calls was unnecessary. In terms of tasks I was not able to conquer during the day, I simply wrote them on the back of that day’s page and carried them over every day until they were completed.
Sooner than later, I found the size of the legal pad to be an inconvenience. It became difficult to carry around with me unless I had my backpack. To solve this problem, I bought a few notepads from the bookstore that were small enough to fit in my pocket. Although I had less space to write things down, I could carry the pad with me at all times and keep on top of my schedule. I am now into my second notepad.
Time management is a skill that you must master if you want to break into sports. You should be doing something at least once per week to increase your odds of landing that dream internship or job of yours. That means scheduling other activities or tasks around a certain time block dedicated to advancing your sports career. More importantly, you have to begin developing the habit of getting things done. There is something gratifying about crossing off an activity that you just accomplished. When you get that internship or job you want, people are going to count on you to perform. The more experience you have managing your own time, the more productive you are going to be. By focusing on planning each and every day, you will sharpen your organizational skills and be able to tackle assignments efficiently. Spend your time wisely, and you will see results. The clock is ticking.