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A Coaches Guide To Working From Home

Josh Bullock
Apr 27, 2020

“Okay campers rise and shine and don’t forget your booties ‘cause it’s cold out there! It’s cold out there every day….” Maybe, if you're reading this article, you can get a good laugh from this quote and perhaps, even relate to it on some level. If you can’t quite put your finger on the origin, it’s the radio line from movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray.

As a group of people who enjoy moving and the interpersonal relationships that forge the backbone of our jobs, the thought of being confined to the walls of our home can seem daunting. Those missing elements, accompanied by the fact that we wear our long hours in the office or gym like a badge of honor earned in some military conflict, can make for a rather diabolical cocktail.

Thus far, in the COVID-19 outbreak I have tried a number of strategies to effectively execute my job as a strength and conditioning coach from the confines of my home office. I have spoken with a number of coaches and athletics administrators and the various approaches on how to work from home have bordered on the line of productive and outright humorous. Maybe you have inadvertently found yourself in one of these situations:

  • Pajama Party: You woke up early and flipped open your laptop and 14 hours later you realize you are still in your pajamas. Getting ready for bed is pretty easy at that point.
  • The New Business Casual: You succumb to the ever-fashionable collared shirt tucked into pajama bottoms or sweatpants.
  • But First Coffee: You brewed the pot of coffee at 5am and emptied the carafe throughout the day. Then, suddenly, you realize it’s 5pm so you switch from coffee to beer.
  • What Day Is It?: You lost track of the day of the week and it suddenly hits you, you can’t remember the last time you went outside.
  • Now Taking Ideas From TikTok: You just need to train something so you set up a cat obstacle course with all the toilet paper you stockpiled. (You might also be the reason there’s no TP for our backsides.)
  • The New Cafeteria: You started a tally for the number of times you open the fridge in a day.
  • Work, Sleep, Repeat: Or maybe the easiest one for us workaholics, you just work, all day, every day. I mean, what else are you going to do?

What follows are my recommendations for managing your time and productivity while working from home. These are not my ideas or practices alone; but rather, a collection of what has worked from various coaches and athletics administrators from around the country.

blog - coaches guide

First, get up, get dressed, and act like you are going to work every day, Monday through Friday. This is a big one and can be viewed a bit like putting on a suit or dress for a phone interview. Get engaged in the day and enjoy a deeper commitment to your work.

Second, set a timer for that social media scroll. Have you ever made it to the end of your Instagram feed? I didn’t think so. It doesn’t exist. Social media platforms are wonderful at keeping you engaged and unlike other activities, don’t come with a hard ending. Articles, books, and even television shows and movies come to end; your social media platform doesn’t so you need to create one.

Social media platforms do have a place, but if left unchecked they will kill your time quicker than COVID-19.

Third, every Sunday schedule your work week. If needed, include your significant other and family members. Likely, if you live with others, you will need to juggle everyone’s work and home school schedule. Staying on top of this is critical but you should remain flexible; as you have likely experienced things seems to pop up unexpectedly.

Use the bedtime app on your phone to wake-up and retire from the workday at a consistent time and prepare your meals at the same time. When you work from your home there are likely no clear breaks or end to your day. Your meetings, workouts or practices, video review, recruiting, administration, and study all take place from…. you guessed it…. the same place.

Just as with social media platforms, work from home coaches need to schedule their day. Depending on your individual situation you may need to include some or all of the following:

  • Put these projects in your schedule and when possible set a timer to remind you to get up and move. I have been using the app Timer+ but you can also use a web based version from timeanddate.com. My routine is to set my timer for 60-90 minutes. When the alarm rings I finish my thought and take a five to 10-minute break from the computer screen. Conference calls or video meetings have their own scheduled time.
  • Schedule an hour every day for your own development. The 70/20/10 guideline of professional development dictates that 70% of learning takes place on the job. That’s tough when you’re not AT your job. Devote protected time to pursue your dreams and goals. I devote 30-60 minutes of my day for personal growth.
  • Make this a priority. I know many of us teach movement; but it is easy to get focused on others and lose sight of our own health and wellness. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out A Floor to Ceiling Guide to Training at Home During COVID-19 or for some quick preprogrammed work try the Nike Training Club app.
  • Get Outside. On days when the weather allows, shake things up and work outside, use your work breaks to do an outdoor workout, do yard work, or take your pet for a walk. When the weather turns sour go for a drive and check out an area you have always wanted to see.
  • Family and Friends. Here is where your social media feed can be helpful. Jump on a video call with your family members. If they are in the room, BE PRESENT, and enjoy their company. Here is a nice article full of ideas. I recommend turning the “do not disturb” on your phone at 5:00pm. That will signal to you the workday is over and you should present with your loved ones.

Finally, if you are like me, you are making frequent trips to the refrigerator. To combat eating because of availability I recommend planning and/or prepping your meals. I like the RP Diet app from Renaissance Periodization. If you prefer not to plan or prep, at minimum you should acknowledge the difference between physical and psychological hunger; a question, that was first exposed to me by Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition.  Ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or just eating out of habit”? Precision Nutrition also has some great resources on their blog.

In parting, the words of Phil (Bill Murray),

“I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank piña coladas. At sunset we made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn't I get that day over and over and over?”

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay productive.

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