Time management skills are not only important for running a successful business, but also for being productive in general. Using time efficiently and effectively is key to success for those working in the fitness industry - whether a self-employed personal trainer, group fitness instructor or manager. This article focuses on time management strategies that can help the fitness business entrepreneur succeed in both business and life.
“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” ~Benjamin Franklin
- Discuss the importance of time management for running a successful business
- Identify the problems faced by many entrepreneurs in the fitness industry
- Learn simple solutions to common problems that can be implemented immediately into current business structures
Three Common Problems and Time Management Solutions
Fitness business owners spend too much time training clients, writing programs, teaching classes, answering emails or returning phone calls and there is minimal time available to grow the business.
Fitness business owners are very determined and will do anything in their power to grow their business, including training as many clients as possible. Why? Because more clients equal more money, right? What if more clients become too many clients? What about those clients who email, text message or call a few times per day asking all sorts of questions (e.g. what to eat, how to perform prescribed home exercises, etc.) and expect your response? These text messages, calls and emails quickly add up and may require a significant portion of your day to respond. Not to mention, these communications can cause loss of your focus on the task at hand.
The 80/20 Rule
Tim Ferris discusses a technique to avoid this problem in his article titled, "The Not-To-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now." This 80/20 rule applies to training clients, writing programs and everything else that comes along with taking on a client:
Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers
There is no sure path to success, but the surest path to failure is trying to please everyone. Do an 80/20 analysis of your customer base in two ways: Which 20% are producing 80%+ of my profit, and which 20% are consuming 80%+ of my time? Then put the loudest and least productive on autopilot by citing a change in company policies. Send them an e-mail with new rules as bullet points: number of permissible phone calls, e-mail response time, minimum orders, etc. Offer to point them to another provider if they can’t conform to the new policies (Ferris, 2007).
Touch It Once Rule
One more great piece of advice is implementing the “touch it once” rule (Lynn); which is the notion that each piece of paper, each activity, email or task should only have to be handled once. Choose one of three options for each new email, phone call, or task that arises: deal with it right away, delegate it, or file it away for actioning at a specific time.
Fitness business owners finally get a chance to sit down to work on a project only to get distracted, which causes loss of concentration and focus on the task at hand.
Fitness business owners must find their personal "magic time." This is the time that they're able to focus the best and get things done - in a productive manner. Some might find they are most productive early in the morning, but others might find they work best in the middle of the afternoon or even late at night. Everyone is different and what matters most is finding that personal "magic time."
Prep for Magic Time
In order to avoid any distractions during the designated magic time, be sure to set the smart phone on silent and out of arms reach. Shut down any social media and email (unless this is one of the tasks at hand).
Each week a to-do list should be laid out with three sections:
- Goals of what to accomplish for the week
- Goals for the month
- Tasks to be delegated
By having these lists to refer to, it will be easier to choose tasks to complete each day and help stay on track with personal and professional business goals.
Each night, before you put away your electronic devices in order to wind down or spend quality time with family, take a look at the "to-do list." Decide on the top priority tasks and choose two or three (depending on size of the task and time availability) that you commit to completing the following day. This will help with focus when you sit down in your "magic time" to be productive. Take note: these do not have to be large tasks, as sometimes it is just something along the lines of making a phone call you have been putting off, writing an email, or posting a blog on your website. Avoid setting unrealistic expectations when selecting your must-do tasks for each day. This way, anything else that is completed that day is an added BONUS!
Fitness business owners work all hours of every day and eventually become burned-out, frustrated, less motivated and experience an overall poor quality of life.
Some of the great benefits anticipated when becoming a business owner is having more freedom in scheduling, time off during holidays and more day-to-day availability. If this is supposed to be true, then why do many fitness business owners find themselves up at all hours of the morning and working late into the night? This is probably one of the most common problems experienced by those in the fitness industry. The majority of clients/members prefer to exercise/personal train early in the morning before work or in the evenings after work. Fitness professionals who have clientele from all walks of life will find themselves working all hours of the day in order to accommodate each of their clients; however, what about themselves? Working 9, 10, 12 hours each day will eventually lead to burn-out, frustration, lack of motivation and just overall poor quality of life; which was not part of the plan when deciding to become an entrepreneur.
There are quite a few ways to solve this problem, but the following are two actions that can be integrated into a business right away to help simplify life. These two suggestions are found in Galbraith's article titled, “Overworked, Overstressed, and Overburdened? 7 Strategies for Personal Trainer Time Management”:
1. Don't be afraid to say "No"
A fitness professional normally enters into this field of work for the joy of helping people and love for fitness; however, it's still a job and it's important to have a life outside of work. Learning to say "No" to clients who want to train at all hours of the day is the first step to scheduling freedom. Creating a personal schedule of when one-on-one training or group classes will be made available is most important, while remembering to take into account the personal "magic time" (mentioned above), personal workout time, and personal downtime. Clients will often request specific times that work best for them to train, but if it doesn't work within your designated availability you should suggest another time and attempt to find a way to meet in the middle. You'll find the majority of clients will work around your schedule, but they will still ask for the time that works best for them first.
2. Outsource, delegate, and build a team of experts
Work smarter, not harder. There are many outside businesses that offer quality (but cheap) outsourcing by knowledgable and skilled people from all over the world. Delegate the small tasks that take up a lot of time and other tasks that might be better completed by those who specialize in that particular task (e.g., website updates/design, social media updates, email newsletter design, etc.). Outsourcing is a cheap way to accomplish daily tasks within the business and free up more of your time to work "on" the business.
Some [business owners] spend so much time working on their weaknesses and trying to be everything but the problem is that company will only grow to the limits of the talents of that individual (Stengel, 2012).
Becoming a small business owner is both a blessing and a curse, because although working for yourself is the “American Dream” it can soon turn into a nightmare if not done properly. Finding a healthy balance between the focused business person with the dream of financial freedom and the everyday person who wants to watch movies, hang out with family, and spend time with their kids is key to longevity in both business and life. Implementing a few of the suggestions pointed out in this article could be a good place to begin finding that balance in order to succeed as an entrepreneur and still enjoy all that life has to offer along the way.
Tim Ferris (August 17, 2007) The Not-To-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now. Retrieved from http://fourhourworkweek.com/2007/08/16/the-not-to-do-list-9-habits-to-stop-now/
Aaron Lynn. Time Management Case Study: Busy Business People. Retrieved from (http://www.asianefficiency.com/case-studies/time-management-case-study-busy-business-people/)
Molly Galbraith. Overworked, Overstressed, and Overburdened? 7 Strategies for Personal Trainer Time Management. Retrieved from http://www.theptdc.com/2013/06/overworked-overstressed-andoverburdened-7-strategies-for-personal-trainer-time-management/
Geri Stengel (June 6, 2012). Growing Means Learning to Work on Your Business Not In It. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/geristengel/2012/06/06/growing-means-learning-to-work-on-yourbusiness-not-in-it/