One of my favorite web articles is by Lifehacker titled "How I Work". It takes CEOs technology startup and documents the methods of how they produce their best work. In the spirit of that article series, I'm presenting the "How I Work" for Strength & Conditioning.
I'm Adam Ringler, and This is How I Work
Location: Wichita, Kansas
Current gig: Strength & Conditioning Coach
Current computer: PC
Current mobile device: iPhone 4s
One word best describes how you work: Efficiently
What apps/software/tools can't you live without?
I carry a 5x8 Moleskin around with me everywhere I go. It's a habit I picked up on while working at Michigan State. I'd odd to see someone in the technological era carry a notebook but I take notes like a wizard. I like to be exact and detailed oriented. I think that level of attention is important. I haven't found a digital solution that can quickly capture and edit notes like a pen & paper.
I use Dropbox constantly. I'm not glued to my workstation but I am constantly working on something. Whether it is my Home PC, mobile device, or at my office; Dropbox allows for me to stay in-sync with the work and design that is being done. I can quickly edit strength & conditioning programs and send them quickly to athletes anywhere.
What's your workspace like?
I've seen pictures of Steve Job's and Albert Einstein's desks and it looks like they are feverously busy. My desk is different. I do my best work when my desk and office is minimal. I try to have my desk clear of everything before I do program design. The last five minutes of my day is spent organizing and cleaning for the next day. This allows me to return back to my office the following day and arrive to a clean workspace.
My office has harsh fluescent lighting so I added soft lamps to help mellow out the lights. The softer lights allows for me to do some of my best work and designing.
What's your best time-saving trick?
Cut out the everyday clutter of your life; distractions. The tiny interruptions of SMS, e-mail, notifications, etc. block you from doing your best work and will cost you valuable time.
I carry an iPhone yet keep it very minimalist; few apps and almost zero notifications. I feel like too many people are glued to their phones that they are missing out on life.
What's your favorite to-do list manager?
Without a doubt, it's Bullet Journal and a Moleskin. I've tried every other to-do list and haven't found one that allowed me the flexibility of my own pen & paper. Bullet Journal is a god-send. It's also analog which helps me cut out other distractions like my iPhone and apps.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without?
My 5x8 Moleskin
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I'd like to think automating regular everyday tasks. I hear about coaches having to manually enter in workout data for 80-120+ plus athletes and think to myself; that's what Excel VLOOKUP function is for. I've created automated spreadsheets for workouts, 1RM percentage based lifts, Functional Movement Screens, Hop & Stop tests, etc. I'm quite confident that a lot of the data-entry time-consuming tasks associated with a quantified-oriented profession can be automated or reduced.
It's an investment of time up-front but I've never had it not payoff in the long run.
What are you currently reading?
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, The Dude and the Zen Master, Jony Ive's biography.
What do you listen to while you work?
Ambience noises through Ipnos Soft. I find regular music too distracting. Working long hours 75 feet underground without windows and a sense of nature can be very harsh. Having some nature-like ambience noises like birds, wind, rain, etc. can really help make your office or workplace one that you enjoy.
I like my office peaceful to counter the bang and clang, yelling, energy-pumping atmosphere of the weight room.
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
That question depends on the situation or environment I am in. When I'm campus, I'm an extrovert because I believe giving energy is the best way of creating more energy out of athletes. I'm engaging and want to hear my athletes and co-workers stories and learn about their lives; I lean in.
When I'm off campus I'm much more of an introvert. I enjoy recharging by a book or a quiet place. I enjoy spending time with my family.
What's your sleep routine like?
F.lux software activates past 6PM which helps to reduce the blue light radiating from my desktop screen at home. An hour out from bed I like to discontinue using electronics. I typically go to bed around 10:00-10:30. I wake up more often than a normal person due to our 6 month old.
Fill in the blank: I'd love to see ______ answer these same questions.
I'd love to hear how those with robust families answer these questions. The most difficult balance any coach has is the work/life balance.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
I've had so many tremendous people give me advise about this profession. There are so many powerful tidbits in "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind".
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”
― Shunryu Suzuki
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
It's easy to get caught up in the coaching life but I would implore you to take the advise of Shunryu Suzuki,
“Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.”
― Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
If you're too busy preparing for the next job, your failing to give your full attention to your current one. Keep your head down and stay diligent and focused. Give your full attention to the athletes.