This weekend I will be facing one of the greatest challenges of the year. I will be competing in my first triathlon. While it is only a sprint distance event, the three different venues of competition bring on an organizational challenge. I have three completely different events to get ready for.
I tend to be a pretty focused person. I thrive on doing one thing at a time. Throw three things at me and I can lose focus quickly. In planning for the event, I searched my mind for previous multi faceted challenges and made a list of tools that helped me get through them.
Here is a simple toolkit that has helped in multiple situations, from giving a speech, writing a book, to planning a vacation.
1. Checklist: While our minds are good at remembering major facts and figures, it fails miserably at remembering the small stuff. Unfortunately, the small stuff can stop you cold. When I was planning my first bike event, I almost left the house without my bike helmet. Luckily I had printed out a checklist before I left, and I grabbed the helmet as I walked out the door while checking the list. Without a helmet, I would have been dead in the water.
A great place to find checklists is on Google. Just type in the type of event or meeting that you are going to along with the word checklist and you are sure to find lists that others have created. Take a basic list and modify it for your own needs.
Here are some popular searches that I have used.
- Presenter’s Checklist
- Wedding Checklist
- Vacation Checklist
- Writer’s Checklist
- Blogger’s Checklist
- 5K Run Checklist
With my upcoming event, I typed in Sprint Triathlon Checklist and found a great, fill-in-the-blanks checklist already made up. I selected the items that pertain to me and printed it off. Now I have a lot more assurance that I won’t leave the house without sunscreen and get a sunburn, or forget little things like snacks or water that make for a much better race.
One thing about checklists. Go over them a few days before an event so you can purchase or procure any missing items. It’s really tough to remember something by going over the list only to find that you can’t buy it at 5 o’clock in the morning (like a bicycle pump or spare tube).
2. Create a Toolkit. This is a fun item to do and can reduce your stress by at least 50%. Get a plastic box or actual toolbox and put all the necessary tools, cables, cords, adapters, and instructions that you need for your upcoming event. This is especially true if you are using electronic devices. Do you have the power cord? Do you have the cord to charge it in the car? Do you have the cord to hook one device to the other? Use your checklist as a guide and ask others if they can add to the list.
There is nothing worse than forgetting a small adapter and not being able to hook up a device at the event. DON’T RELY ON OTHERS to have the little things you need. This especially goes for batteries. Always have extra batteries in your kit and change them out regularly. A few dollars spent on some double–a batteries can save you hours of aggravation on the day of the event.
If you put your items in a multi compartmented storage box, you’ll be able to find things quickly and easily on race/event day. Home Depot sells some great plastic tool boxes with drawers and trays that work for many different activities. A few dollars spent in preparation can save hours of aggravation later.
3. Practice-Practice-Practice. It’s always a good idea to practice activities a few days before an event. This has always been a problem for me. I always think I have more time than I do. I have found through many trials and tribulations that it’s best to think at least a week ahead for most major activities. Do I have what I need? Have I run through the paces? Do I need to modify/polish/change any items?
It never fails that some last minute activity will overwrite the time you had put aside to practice. I don’t know why this happens (Murphy?) but it does. I have found that scheduling the event on my calendar a week ahead really helps. While practicing doesn’t remove all the stress and butterflies, it certainly reduces them and allows you to focus on doing your best.
Overview: I really struggle with complicated things. Too many pieces/parts/programs can derail me quicker than a rock on the tracks. When I take the time to go over a checklist, create a toolkit, and put some time in practice, the results are always better. This allows me to focus on one thing at a time. In the case of this Sunday it’s… Run, Bike, Swim. One at a time!
Question: How do you prepare for major events in your life?