The hours spent without clients or classes can be some of your most productive.
Has your schedule suddenly opened up? If you are a group exercise instructor, perhaps the number of classes you teach has been reduced; or, as a personal trainer, maybe you have lost a couple of clients who have moved away, gone on vacation or simply decided to exercise on their own. Now you find the hours of your day, once jam-packed with work, stretching endlessly before you.
Most of us are stressed when we are too busy and fret when we are not busy enough! But is it possible to bask in the pleasure of a reduced schedule, viewing it as a gift versus a curse? Absolutely! It is during slow times that you define the success and sustainability of your busy days. A reduced schedule offers you the opportunity to work on your business rather than in it. Take advantage of those empty hours to get your systems in order, reevaluate your goals and improve your attractiveness.
Disorganization is a symptom of the too-busy, unfocused life. People are much more productive when they are prepared, have a place for everything and put everything in its place. Evaluate your paperwork, documents and office/training equipment. Use some of your newly available hours to get organized so you can respond to a new or existing client’s needs at a moment’s notice.
- Start by making a list of all the paper items and computer files you want to tackle.
- Organize client files, updating information and identifying upcoming assessments and program changes. Make sure clients’ addresses and phone numbers are current.
- Create a logical, easily accessible filing system.
- Identify and create forms that will make it easier to manage your business.
- Prepare at least 10 new-client packets.
- Take a fresh look at your promotional and marketing materials. Are any changes needed to bring them up-to-date or simply add some spark?
- Create your own website or improve the one you have. I created my site with WebSite Complete 5.0, which I purchased for just $14.95 from www.godaddy.com. (Also see Resources, left.)
- Transform all your forms into documents that can be e-mailed. Dispose of any forms and documents you no longer use.
- Evaluate your equipment needs. What do you need to make your daily life easier (e.g., fax machine, cell phone, laptop computer, new desk, training equipment)? Would you benefit from any new software or computer training?
- Do you have equipment that needs to be upgraded or disposed of? Make sure everything is in perfect working order.
- Look around you. What do you need to change to make your office and training facility an inspiring space?
- Once you have identified the equipment you need, create a budget plan and set a timeline for acquiring it.
Another wise use of your downtime is to review both your personal and business goals. Are you happy with the direction you are heading in? Are you investing your time in the areas you have identified as priorities? In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey suggests that you invest time in things that are important to you, but not urgent. Waiting until things become urgent creates stress and decreases your effectiveness.
Reevaluate your goals and take an honest look at the time you invest in pursuing each of them. Decide what you are willing to give up to have what you really desire in life. Reconsider and renew your goals in the following areas:
- Is your schedule ideal for you? Define your perfect work hours for each day.
- Guard the time you schedule for yourself (for exercise, lunch, professional development).
- Do you have the number of clients you need and want?
- Do you enjoy each of your clients?
- Do you need to attract more—or different—clients?
- Reduce burnout and leverage your career by diversifying. Create at least three different profit streams. Consider speaking, writing, teaching (adult education, local college courses, workshops), leading adventure trips or retreats, developing educational materials (books, CDs, workbooks, videos) and wellness coaching.
- Revisit the vision, purpose, and mission statement you set for your business. Are they still valid for you? Consider the legacy you want to leave to those you serve.
- Build your daily agenda around your dreams. For example, one of my dreams is to build a home in a beautiful, inspiring location, so I need to find a way not only to finance that home but also to create a business that can move with me. To fulfill that dream, I am actively working to add hours as a coach and professional speaker, while reducing the hours I spend doing face-to-face personal training.
- Keep a detailed weekly schedule. Planning produces self-confidence.
No, I’m not referring to plastic surgery here—but to the concept of intentionally attracting the things and people you want in your life. Brainstorm ways to improve yourself in the following areas:
- attire (work and “out-and-about” clothes)
- client materials
- promotional materials (including your website)
- professional education and training Either you are attracting what you want in life or you are not. If not, why not? And what are you going to do about it?
You will quickly discover that taking advantage of a reduced schedule can become a full-time job! Instead of wasting precious time fretting about your empty hours, fill them with productive activities that will provide the organization, readiness, attractiveness and restoration you need to continue life’s unpredictable journey. Treasure every moment you have as both an opportunity and a gift. In perfecting the present, you attract a promising future.