I have never been just a cheerleading coach
. I have always been a cheerleading coach plus a...
- full-time student
- full-time student and minimum wage worker
- production manager
Honestly, I kinda prefer being busy. I find that I'm better at both jobs because of the other in many ways, but there are times when it can be overwhelming. Here are a few ways to find balance in the chaos that is sometimes your life so that it won't be chaos forever.
Find Pockets of Time
When you've got lots to do in little time then you have to use all of it as wisely as possible. What's great about cheerleading tasks is that they don't often take very long which makes them easy to accomplish.
All you have to do is find the pockets of time to do a few of the items on your list. Work in an office? Then you probably have a lunch break. Are you a teacher? Then use a portion of your free period. Get up crazy early or go to bed super late? Dedicate a few minutes to knocking out tasks while you watch TV.
This is going to sound like a no brainer. Of course, you need to stay organized. But you would be surprised how often people let one or two things slip, then suddenly they're buried in their disorganization.
But you don't have time to be unorganized (at least not regularly). Keep a running list of tasks that need to get done. Then when you have your pockets of time, you already know what to do with them.
Every time you need to schedule something, put it on your calendar immediately. That way you can refer to it later when communicating with others. And if you're looking for a way to stay organized, here's a calendar I created for cheer coaches that you can get for free.
Give Your Team's Parents Clear Expectations
Here's the thing. People these days want answers yesterday not tomorrow. Everyone has instant access to each other, and it can drive you bananas if you're not careful and don't have clear expectations set.
If you're only going to answer emails once or twice a day, then know which pockets of time you're going to use and tell parents what they are. If you always use your lunch break then they email you at 2 and need an answer but you don't answer until noon the next day, they could get upset. So they need to know when they should hear from you.
If you set the expectations then they may not like them but they will get used to them. And hold to it. Tell them if it's an emergency to text or call you because email is only checked at certain intervals, and don't budge. It's respectful to them and to your time.
The more you work in cheerleading, the more you'll start to notice that there's a particular rhythm to the cheer year. Sure, each program is a little different, but even that program will remain largely the same from year to year.
If you take notes on what worked and what didn't, and keep track of when certain events or situations tend to occur then you can start to see the patterns and anticipate them. Plus, you'll be able to use these notes to create systems that make your life easier. So make it a point to debrief each week, month, or special event to keep track for next time.
As a born type-A, task-oriented gal, I am in love with systems, which are just any set of tasks that are set up the same continually so that it's almost automated. It makes life (and cheerleading) more efficient when you need it to be. If you're looking to cut some of your easy items off your list, then systems is the way to go.
Don't have time to come up with new exercises for conditioning? Spend 30 minutes at the beginning of the season creating 3 circuits of exercises and repeat throughout the year, or do one warm-up routine that your captains can lead each day. You can even pre-schedule most of your practice time that way too.
Systems can work for bigger picture items too. Your whole cheer year calendar is one big system. April is for team building. May is for camp preparation. June is for camp. July is for rest. August is for getting into shape. You see where I'm going with this, right?
Systems will save your life as a busy, multi-talented, multi-passionate cheerleading coach. So create them and write them down so you have them forever.
All of these tips help you compartmentalize the cheerleading part of your life, but you have to remember to compartmentalize the other part of your life during cheerleading time. As a hard-working individual, it's tempting to multi-task during both careers, but you must use your time with integrity.
These are the exact things I did to balance a lifetime of other obligations with my passion for coaching cheerleading. Start with these tips, then work them out so they work for you. You'll start to see your mind clear of all that stressful clutter, and you'll love all the things you do more.