As fitness professionals we typically have a lot going on.
When I was a General Manager of a local personal training studio, I conducted anywhere from 30 to 40 sessions a week, oversaw the training and development of 10 to 12 staff members, ran our mentorship program, wrote content weekly for our website, and was responsible for the quality of over 400 weekly sessions! On top of that, I had a family, my own fitness training to do, and was studying for my Master’s Degree.
Sound like any of you?
Well, if you’re sick of stuff slipping through the cracks or not having enough life balance, please read on.
There are many different systems and philosophies about time management and organization. I can’t say for sure that I will address the “best way” in this article, but I will share 10 time management principles that have brought me success (even when I was at my busiest). These principles will provide direction and guidance for creating your own time management system.
Before we get into the principles, I will say that I am a huge fan of Stephen Covey and David Allen. They are two great resources for getting and staying organized. Much of what you will see below has been influenced by their bodies’ of work.
Principle 1: Begin with the end in mind…start at the “top of the pyramid.”
Without a solid mission, vision, purpose or end goal, you may find yourself climbing the “ladder of success” only to find it is on the wrong wall. Your mission or vision statement will guide every decision you make in life.
Principle 2: Identify life roles and create goals.
Using your mission statement, identify the key roles you play or wish to play in your life. Then, for each role, create 1 to 2 meaningful goals that align with your mission. Be sure to identify roles other than work related roles (i.e. family member, spouse, parent, friend, self).
Principle 3: Operate with a blueprint.
With each goal from each life area ask yourself, “How?” Once you get an answer for that, ask “how” again. Keep doing this until you really can go no further — until you’re at the very first (or next) step you can take towards each goal. Each time you answered “how” you identified different steps/tasks that need to be accomplished along the way. Let this serve as your blueprint for walking out each goal.
Principle 4: Don’t operate in a bubble.
If you have a mentor, run your plans by them. Chances are they’ve been down the same paths you’re headed and can provide guidance. At the very least they can say “well done” and stamp your ticket with approval. Trusted eyes and minds can save you much time and provide you with the confidence to put one foot in front of another.
If you don’t have a mentor, get one.
Principle 5: Work with deadlines.
For every goal, set a deadline. For every task/step identified in Principle 3, set a deadline. Be reasonable. Be realistic. This too is something you should review with your mentor.
Principle 6: Commit to weekly planning.
In my opinion, weekly planning gives you just enough to see the big picture, yet is small enough in focus to account for the details of each day. Your weekly planning should allow you to make progress in all life areas (including non-work related ones). Weekly planning will also make it easier to be more focused for each day.
Principle 7: Put first things first.
This simply means, prioritize your schedule for each week (i.e. identify your “big rocks” for each role) and then schedule those priorities. It is this last step that many professionals miss. They never schedule their most important items. Next thing you, know the whirlwind of life begins at 8am and you never get closer to any of your goals.
Principle 8: Make your first things the first things.
This simply, means if you’re scheduled to work on “x,” work on “x” and nothing else. Be focused. Have an end goal for the time you have allowed to work on “x.” Maybe it is to complete the whole task. Maybe it is to get 50% of the task done. Whatever it is, identify this before you begin and focus solely on that task. Turn off you email and phone. Shut the door. Go to the woods! Do whatever you need to in order to give your fullest attention and effort to that task.
Principle 9: Regularly evaluate your systems for being organized.
Are you getting closer to your goals? Are you meeting deadlines? Are you getting things done? Is anything slipping through the cracks? Is the quality of your work the same if not better? Is your life balance any better? It is through constant evaluation of your systems that you can customize them to suit your character and lifestyle. It is through this regular evaluation that you become even more effective and efficient.
Generally, I will do a mini weekly evaluation (of the week prior) before getting organized for the upcoming week. I will then do 2 or 3 solid assessments of my goals and my progress each year. For me, this usually involves woods and water (and/or adult beverage), and a pencil and paper as I reflect.
Principle 10: Enjoy the “fruits” of your discipline!
It’s not easy putting all these principles into action. It will take time and effort. But doing so will help to keep you on the right track at all times. As a result, you will be more successful and productive in all areas of your life.