There’s an old saying that’s as true in health and fitness as it is in life: work smarter, not harder. This means maintaining maximum efficiency for the outcomes you produce. For many of us in service industries that means maximising our most precious commodity – time.
Managing your time effectively not only means that your days will flow easier, quicker, and with way less stress, but you will also generate the best possible financial return on it. Here are our 5 best tips for making your schedule work for you, and not the other way around.
1. Time Blocking – ‘Task switching’ is a term to describe the cognitive load required to move from one task to the next. Think of it as the ‘loading time’, making even simple tasks take longer than needed to complete. One effective way to reduce task switching inefficiencies is to block chunks of time around similar tasks, so as to keep yourself in a similar mindset when getting similar jobs done. For example, block out a chunk of time for writing programs, a time to write reports, a time to do billing and finances, etc. Often this is best to structure into times of the day you know are least popular for appointments, or schedule a day in the diary to get these all done at once in an efficient manner. It may seem counterintuitive to remove billable time that could be used for appointments, however when time is money, the overall saving by using your time more efficiently will outweigh the potential earnings.
2. Write Everything Down – Whether you use scrap paper and a pen, or a sophisticated task management software, make sure to immediately note down all your tasks the second they come in. Then when you have some down time (we like to set aside 30 minutes at the start or end of each day), you can organise those tasks into your calendar according to your preferred time blocking structure, making sure they get done.
3. Turn Off Distractions – This one’s simple, but it’s something we all forget to do: turn off your phone and email notifications while you’re working. Not only is it a bit embarrassing to have your phone buzzing away while a client is in your clinic, it takes your head out of the game. Part of putting your patient first means stopping anything from getting in the way of their care.
This is equally important for our admin tasks. If you are going to dedicate billable hours that could be used to see clients towards getting other work done, then make the most of it! Turn your phone onto ‘do not disturb’ mode, close down the email and social media tabs, set a timer for how long you need to focus before you can have a break, and get stuff done.
4. Knowing When to Say ‘No’ – Having a solid grasp of your existing schedule makes it a lot easier to know your limits, but we all fall into the trap of saying ‘yes’ to a few too many favours, like seeing clients before or after our usual hours to try and squeeze them in. Overcommitting to extra work ultimately just leads to stress and burnout, which nobody wants. Learn when to say ‘no’ to keep your schedule – and your sanity – in check.
5. Build Routine Where You Can – Working in health and fitness means your day-to-day is rarely consistent. Though we often promote these ideals to our clients, this can make it hard to settle into a healthy routine for ourselves. But there are a few parts of your day that you do have more control over: mornings, nights, and meal times. Keeping those parts of your days scheduled into a good routine for things like exercise, spending time with loved ones, hobbies, etc, will help you keep your sanity in check, knowing that all your health and personal needs are taken care of.
Having a solid plan of action every day is the easiest and most efficient way to prevent stress, overwork, and burnout in such a fast-paced and unpredictable line of work. We hope that these quick tips give you a few ways to adjust your daily routine to be smoother, more productive, and overall healthier for both you, your team, and your clients.