Andy is the founder of mental performance business Athlete in Mind. Amazingly he built the business from scratch to hugely successful in just one year. Andy works with athletes on the mental side of their sports performance, a successful hurdler himself, he knows how tough this side of training and racing can be....
Determined to support other athletes, Andy financed his own psychology training and set up the business and hasn’t looked back. This all takes incredible focus and time management so how did he do it?
‘Growing the business was all about timing, I needed to be present when my clients were thinking about training, actually training or experiencing some of the issues I can help with. The temptation to try to be everywhere was huge, but instead I spent time researching the right places and events and showed up at them consistently.’
Andy thinks about time in details or small chunks and he thinks sequentially, so he naturally takes a step back and plans. ‘It was all about planning and getting the details right’. This way of thinking about time is ideal for the type of work Andy does, enabling him to plan meticulously but also move between different things easily.
‘I need to be accessible when people need me, so a great deal of flexibility is required. I know that so I plan for it then it’s not an interruption. During the Olympics in Rio I had to be available for my clients at night, to meet with their timezone. That’s pretty critical stuff so I planned for that and took out a lot of other activities during the Olympics and Paralympics so that I could focus on those clients. When you plan in detail these things are both predictable and easy to work with.’
Andy finds his rhythm by utilising his natural small chunk and sequential time sort with prioritising looking after his health and energy. ‘I treat my working life like when I’m training for a race. If I’m not in optimal health, I won’t be able to do as much, as an athlete I know that. I use that to make sure my body is programmed to perform well by eating well and keeping fit. I’ve used Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques to help me take out sugar from my diet and the impact on my general health and energy has been incredible.’
By taking time to get clear on his priorities, Andy finds decision making quick and fairly easy. ‘It’s so much easier to focus your attention and get on with things when there isn’t a part of you going “have you remembered so and so’s birthday?”. I am a bit ruthless with my time but it’s essential for me to avoid distractions, and that’s where the detailed planning also helps. If I’m working on Athlete in Mind business, I’ll go and work down at the track, even if I’m just doing admin. When I’m at home the family is first, so if I work there it contaminates that and being at the track puts me into a performance mindset, which is much more useful for my work.’
The biggest challenge for Andy at first was finding balance with his new business and his family, but by using his style of sorting time to his advantage he plans well to ensure he makes time for both. ‘My wife works Monday to Thursday and I am usually at events at the weekends so we prioritise Friday as a day for the family. I also try and take Monday off. I’ll only respond to emergencies on these days, people who have an urgent race coming up for example, know to text me as I won’t look at e mails, usually they just need a few minutes of my time so it doesn’t derail the day. I also know not to post anything on social media when I have a day off, so as not to invite responses on those days.’
Andy also finds time to train for his own races amongst all of that. ‘The European Championships next August are a big event for me and I could do really well, so I am planning and prioritising my own training now to avoid conflicts going forward.’
In athletics time is all about Personal Bests and it seems that Andy uses his time sorting to ensure the best outcome on and off the track by working to his natural strengths and using his discipline to keep focused on what’s important.
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Find out more about Andy’s work here: http://athleteinmind.co.uk
Founder of Monkey Puzzle and an INLPTA NLP Master Trainer, Karen is also a UKCP registered Psychotherapist and author of the award winning book Real Leaders for the Real World. Her new book Time Mastery; Banish Time Management Forever is out now.