If you're head-judging an event (particularly if you've never done that before), sit down a day or two ahead of time and jot down on a piece of paper some notes for the event. Will you have a judge's meeting? What do you want to say to the judges? What announcements do you need to make at the start of the tourney? What's your policy on extra time - will you enforce 10 minutes for extra turns, or will you allow them to proceed to their natural conclusion? Try to plan ahead for every contingency and have a solution down on paper.
During the event itself, try to stay aware of the flow of the tournament. Who is handling deck-checks this round? Is someone watching the players' table while their decks are checked? Is the round about to end? Maybe it's time to start watching matches for last-minute stalling attempts.
In short, always know what stage of the tournament you're in, and be sure to have a plan for what you need to do at that stage.
Division of Labor
Not the ideal situation for most judges. You would probably prefer to be doing different things. Maybe you like to walk the floor and keep an eye on the players. Maybe you'd like to take a lunch break around round 4. Perhaps you'd enjoy a turn scorekeeping and handling DCI Reporter.
In most premier events, the judging staff gets divided into teams. Each team is assigned a task for a particular round. Each round, the teams are rotated so that no one team has to handle all the deck-checks. By dividing the work into parts and assigning one team to each part, you reduce the stress and workload on the judges.
The common task divisions include two or three areas of the floor, deck checks, break, and occasionally scorekeeping.
Reducing Wasted Effort
A detailed discussion of TO activities is beyond the scope of this article, but since many judges are also TO's, I'll include a few brief tips.
Simplify your process. Set up a small, limited number of desks where all the functions can be performed in a row. Let's say your process is to get the player's info, then their money, then plug them into DCI reporter, then give them a T-shirt. In this case, you should have one desk for each stage, all in a line. Players walk straight through from one end to the other. (See the assembly line concept?) For more information on this idea, I highly recommend you read The Stenger Traffic Flow System, an article by Ray Powers on the Judge's Web site.
Similarly, plan ahead for your event. What if you get more players than you planned on? Do you have enough product on hand to allow everyone to play? If not, how can you get more on short notice?
For sealed deck and draft tournaments, when you seat players for deck building (NOT registration for sealed decks), seat all the players in alphabetical order. That way, when you collect the deck forms, you just collect them by table number and they're automatically sorted alphabetically.
Small, casual tournaments (under 16 people) can often be run with just one person acting as TO, judge, and general manager. For more than that, you really need another person or two on hand. Divide up the work so that you don't have one person flooded with tasks.
If you're at a large event and relying on DCI Reporter, what happens if your computer breaks down? Do you have another computer on hand with all the results updated? At premier events, there are always at least two computers with the full current status of the tournament, and backups are made on floppy disks at least once after each round.
If you're the head judge, what happens if you have to leave suddenly? Is there another judge who can replace you? Does that person know he or she is in charge if you're gone?
What do you do if a player gets a bad pack? Do you replace it, or do you tell him to play on? What if all the players get bad packs? At GP London 2001, a special sealed-deck event was held using out-of print products, such as non-English 4th Edition, Legends packs, and other products. When the organizers ran out of French 4th Ed., they started giving out German 4th Ed. This was planned and expected. Unfortunately, some of the German 4th Ed. Starters were in fact Revised (3rd. Ed.) starters! This wasn't caught until several minutes into deck construction, and players were annoyed at having to give up their Forks, Rocket Launchers, and other prize cards that were in Revised but not 4th. Nevertheless, since the organizers were quickly able to replace the "broken" packs with the correct ones, the tournament went on without any further delays or issues.
How does this help me?
The concept of the assembly line has been around for a while, and it's still here for a reason: it works. Assembly lines can reduce the time and costs associated with manufacturing a product, thus allowing you to increase your production and your profits. The same concept applies to Magic. By reducing the administrative overhead, you can free up your team to deal with more important issues, like taking care of the players' needs.
Similarly, by planning ahead, you can keep control of the situation when a crisis comes up. Instead of wasting time trying to figure out what to do, you have the solution all ready. This keeps both your players and your judges happy by not interrupting the normal flow of the tournament more than necessary.
It would be hubris to think that Murphy's Law doesn't apply to Magic; it most certainly does. This famous mantra ("If something can go wrong, it will.") is the watchword of the successful judge and organizer. By planning ahead and keeping the tournament flowing, you can reduce the impact of unexpected problems and completely eliminate those you can foresee and plan for.