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Technology Time Management


Matt Leverich

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Recently I have been working with the MetGCSA in rebuilding their online presence and ran across a great article from their award-winning Tee to Green publication archive. It deals with how technology has both saved and added time to the duties of the golf course superintendent.

This started me thinking about the daily routine of today's superintendent. Due to my work I am almost always in front of a computer all day, every day. I see a new technological advancement as saving me time. But for the superintendent, this is not the case as you are -- and should be -- out on the course as much as possible, ensuring a great golf experience to your patrons.

So many of the new technologies can slow you down and keep you from your normal activities outside the office. Even with mobile devices, you may be out on the course but you can be buried in your device, not even paying attention to the outside world. With 24/7, always-on communication you are usually expected to answer your cell phone and return emails quickly at any time of day, especially from your members. Add to this the seemingly endless choices of turf products to research and purchase with new technology, and it can get overwhelming. (I understand this one well -- there are over 1,800 different products in our Coverage System database that superintendents have actually used in the last year, and that's just chemicals and fertilizers)

Even with mobile devices, you may be out on the course but you can be buried in your device, not even paying attention to the outside world...

There is also another huge time-sucker: the learning curve associated with any new device or application. You want to be up-to-date with it for work, but you also don't want to be distracted from your tasks on the course. I would suggest it is better to schedule and plan tutorial sessions on hardware and software with local professionals or online tech events outside of your normal work schedule so they don't take away from your regular work. You'll have to give up some free-time to do so, but that is better than letting it eat heavily into your daily activities.

There is also another huge time-sucker: the learning curve associated with any new device or application...

SOLUTIONS?
The article I referred to listed several things you could do as a superintendent to better manage these issues. Nearly all of them are related to time-management, and surprisingly can be adjusted to the good by using technology (ironically) that is free and readily available.

This solution could be software called Wunderlist. There are other options out there, Evernote being a big one that I know others use in the industry and have discussed on TurfNet's Forum. I have tried it and other software but Wunderlist seems to be the easiest and most useful option for the purpose we are discussing. It was also awarded the 2013 App of the Year from Apple.

How can it help you? By using it for all of your task planning, you can limit the time that other technologies can take away:

  • Try to schedule research on new products or technology around your on-course tasks, not in place of them during the day.
  • Set reminders and due dates for tech tasks like checking Twitter and don't look at it until the reminder is sent to you.
  • While on Twitter, create lists of who you follow so that you can get to the educational stuff first and save the personal stuff for your free-time.
  • Share specific lists with your Assistants, particularly research on new tech and products--they are typically interested in these things and may do some work for you in their off-time in these important areas.
  • Create sub-tasks and notes on tech-related tasks that can offer you reminders on how to use software, devices, etc. that are readily available from any device.
  • Set and edit the list schedule no more than once per day and don't open up the software otherwise. Then let the reminders and due dates alert you to what and when you should be working on the tasks. This limits your use of this technology and allows you to focus on the course while knowing your tasks will be sent to you much like having your own secretary.
  • Add files to lists and tasks to store research, club documents and more in a central location that can be shared with other staff members.

The overall point to stress with technology-time management is to have a plan of attack so it doesn't take over your day and limit your time or attention on the golf course. If you would like further information on how to use Wunderlist or other technologies in your daily operation, I am happy to help you any time.

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