“If you can’t manage your time, you’ll never effectively manage your life or your leadership.” – Carey Nieuwhof

“How many times have you gotten to the end of a day only to wonder where all the time went? Or more accurately, wondered where your productivity went? Welcome to the club. Productivity must be easier to measure if you work at, say, Starbucks or Walmart, where you’re dealing with tangibles (how many lattes did you make in the last hour…how many customers did you check out?),” writes leadership author Carey Nieuwhof in his post “How to Reclaim 1-3 Productive Hours Starting Today.”


I find it easy to agree with him. Not everything a PGA professional does is easily trackable, and the impact of many tasks, interactions and conversations are hard to measure at the time. Why? Because effective golf professionals are leaders, they are influencers and community-builders. As leaders and influencers, we make “investment efforts” that often build trust and build connections that lead to business transactions.

I can say in my past roles at green-grass facilities, and even now as a Career Consultant, I still battle the very same “time stealers” (as Nieuwhof calls them) as you do. In his article (I referred to earlier), Nieuwhof continues, “What actually did happen today? Great question…The enemy of many leaders and their mission is time stealing bad practices that seem to suck up massive volumes of available time. And if you can’t manage your time, you’ll never effectively manage your life or your leadership.”


  1. ELIMINATE CONSTANT INTERRUPTIONS WITH PESKY QUESTIONSCan you tell how I really feel by how I titled this section of the post? How many times in your day do you get interrupted by people with pesky questions that honestly aren’t that important or that urgent? Let me guess… all the time.

My thoughts on Nieuwhof’s #1:

  • Questions are pesky aren’t they? As golf professionals (managers, department heads or front-line), we can’t say a customer or member’s question is pesky, especially if it means that a business transaction is going to happen. But, we can control the questions from the employees we lead; especially if we invest in them with proper training, role playing and a “cheat sheet” on how to answer customer’s questions (without our help.) Of course, this requires trusting them.
    • A big learning for me in my career was to accept this statement as fact: “If a leader/department head can’t trust their team to do or say the right thing, it’s the leader who is to blame; and it’s the leader who needs to adjust and grow to fix it.”
  • Create an intentional culture of “solid answers to solid questions” as the standard. In training with the team, talk about what “we all agree” is a solid question. What isn’t a solid question? If it is based in a selfish outcome or isn’t about the values we have, then maybe it shouldn’t be asked in the normal course of the day. Maybe we should think about the “root issue” that the question is based out of, and focus more on figuring that out. Maybe we should “chew on it” for a while, maybe think harder on how to word it, etc. and then ask it of the leader when the time is right? (That time would best be set aside by the leader and be when they are more able to focus on active listening to give a solid answer(s) to the solid question(s).)
  1. SILENCE YOUR CONSTANTLY BUZZING PHONE – Sure, you get interrupted by other people. But how often do you get distracted by what you allow to push through on your phone? A few years ago I shut off almost all notifications on my phone and my devices except for text messages. Do you really need to know instantly when someone likes your Instagram pic? Of course you don’t. Ditto with emails. Why leave email notifications on when you can jump into your inbox once or twice a day and deal with what needs to be dealt with then? (According to the New York Times, the average office worker gets interrupted every 11 minutes. And it takes 25 minutes to return to focused work after each interruption.)

My thoughts on Nieuwhof’s #2:

  • Similar to #1, there are interruptions in the golf business that we want (the ones from customers who are supporting our facilities that pay our wages.) In this effort to “control what digitally distracts you,” we’re talking about the distractions that don’t drive revenue, or help us engage with our customers/members (activation, retention, recruiting.) I don’t need to tell you which ones these are; you know exactly what they are. Maybe filtering them by some measure based on “will this drive revenue” or similar is the right way for you? Maybe scheduling “no distractions” time (in 2-hour increments) is the way to move in this direction?
  • If you’re a leader, this is a great way to model professionalism and work ethic for your team. If they see you set and keep boundaries, they’ll likely follow your lead. (And they’ll be more likely to do it when you ask them to put their phone away during their work shifts.)
  1. GET OUT OF LOUD OFFICES THAT CONSTANTLY DISTRACT YOU – Nieuwhof writes, “Even if you have a closed-door office, carving out a few hours in an office environment can be tricky. Here are some quick hacks: Close your door. Sometimes you may even need to put a note on the door that says “Please do not disturb until 11 a.m.” Try to work offsite. Try a home office or coffee shop (they can be loud too, though) or park…or anywhere where you won’t be disturbed.”

My thoughts on Nieuwhof’s #3:

  • Yes, this is not easy to make a reality for golf professionals. But Carey’s concept of having “Do Not Disturb” (DND) hours is a solid one. What if you could schedule 60 mins in the first four hours of the day, and at least another 30 mins in the second half of your day where you setup “DND time” with your staff or teammates. Literally, 90 minutes a day of focused time for administrative work that is a priority and is important. (If you’re an assistant, why not setup planned DND time where you cover the front-line for each other?)
  • The point here is to be intentional about carving out “productive work time” every day. On top of that, maybe use Sunday night, or Monday night (depending on when your “first work day of the week” is) to layout your plan for productivity based on what is urgent (has to be done today), what is a priority (in the next 7 days) and what is important (over the next 30 days.) Use the “Professionals Communication Matrix” worksheet here as an effective template. It will help you get more productivity out of your DND time, and help you see what distracts you or is “louder in your life” than it really should be.
  1. DON’T WORK WHEN EVERYONE ELSE IS WORKING – Nieuwhof says, “If you have some flex on when you show up at the office, flex that muscle. If you can, try coming in an hour or two early. It’s not that hard to be the early bird in our culture. Most people don’t even try. And you really do catch more worms if you start early. As I’ve outlined before, Work patterns are a lot like traffic patterns: at 5 a.m. you have the road to yourself. At 8 a.m., it could take you three times as long to travel the same distance.”

My thoughts on Nieuwhof’s #4:

  • If you’re a decision maker on the schedule, specifically, your schedule, this one can be a relevant solution for you. One of the best golf professionals (and mentor) I have worked with is Gus Jones, PGA (now the Director of Club Operations at Martis Camp Club.) He modeled this “work when no one else is” for me when I worked for him in 1998; and he still does today. Not every day of course, but generally once a week. Here’s how he did it. He would come in early on Thursdays, work from 7 am – 11 am, then go home to spend time with his family (maybe take a nap) and have a planned family dinner. Around 8 or 9 pm that night, he would come back to work and put in another 4-6 hours “when no one is working.” He replied to emails, made calls that he very likely won’t get answered and worked on significant and major administrative projects. I checked with him a couple of years ago – he still practices this habit nearly every week. This 4-6 hours is likely the most productive period of his work week, and it allows him to excel and be focused on members and staff needs.
  1. DON’T FIGHT YOUR LAGGING ENERGY – All of us have times in the day where our energy lags. So what do you usually do when you could almost fall asleep at your desk or just stare blankly at the wall for an hour? Most of us try to push through it, right? And sometimes you have to. But what about those other times? Well, what if you didn’t? What if you cooperated with your energy levels instead of fought them? Instead of blinking mindlessly at your screen for another 30 minutes, get up. Stretch. Take a nap. Go for a walk. Grab a coffee. Or maybe…call it a day.

My thoughts on Nieuwhof’s #5:

  • What did you picture in the picture Carey “told” above? The club championship, member-guest or similar is what I pictured. He’s right, for these “heavy hours” events, there is a need to push through it. But this shouldn’t be the case every day. When I was in my early 30s, my good friend Jim observed that I approached work with an attitude of effort – 100% all day. He warned me that while that seemed like the right way to go about my work, it was not as effective as I thought in the long run, and it was potentially dangerous to my health. He was right.
  • The Energy Formula* is worth considering here:
    • 48 hours @ an average of 85% effectiveness = 40.8 productive hours
    • 55 hours @ an average of 65% effectiveness = 35.75 productive hours
    • 55 hours @ an average of 75% effectiveness = 41.25 productive hours
    • 60 hours @ an average of 55% effectiveness = 33 productive hours
    • *48 @ 85% is better, more effective than 55 @ 75%, when you consider the 7 hours that can be spent on recharging your life with family, hobbies and/or personal development. In the long run, these 7 hours make the 85% effectiveness much more possible too.
  • Learn what recharges you mentally (or at least moves the cobwebs away.) Is it hitting some golf balls, putts or going to play a few holes? Maybe it’s a quick listen to a motivational podcast while you take a 20-minute walk?
  • Consider what causes your energy levels to lag. Heavy carb and/or sugar levels after lunch seem to lead to a high for a bit, then a significant crash – likely when you’re trying to grind on some task that is not that inspiring and takes significant focus to complete. (Not a great recipe for success.)

Now that you’re in execution mode as a golf professional, leader and more, I know you’re busy…but, I still want to help you if I can.

As your Career Consultant, and your business coach, this is my professional why. I hope to inspire you, and engage with you (like you should be doing with your customers) to help you find your best level of career success. I define this as you experiencing the following: greater job satisfaction, greater career stability and increased income as you progress in your career. I look forward to the chance to learn more about you, your facility and your career vision.


Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional/Player Development | Career Consultant
PGA Career Services | PGA of America
Serving PGA professionals, employers in the Pacific NW & Rocky Mountain PGA Sections
Email: Mkoch@pgahq.com Cell: 206/335-5260