It’s really common to speak to trainers who are working all the time and not seeing the results they want in their business. The following four areas cover the main issues and solutions to ensure the work you do is effective.
1 – Reality check:
It’s really easy to convince ourselves we are working when we aren’t. Spending time scrolling social media, thinking about what we could or should be doing or hanging out in the gym chatting to colleagues don’t really count.
There’s nothing wrong with doing any of those things however, if you are feeling fed up and like you are working all the time and not getting anywhere, then it can be a good idea to review how you spend your time.
Be honest about when you are working and when you are doing something for you that you are blaming on work. (LTB members: Check out the Managing Your Time course if you want to focus on this area)
Task 1: Pay attention to how your time is spent for the next 3 days. Any surprises? Are there any changes you can make to be more aware of how you choose to use your time?
2 – Set Boundaries:
Most trainers don’t separate work time from non-work time. They have time they are coaching clients and time they aren’t. Unfortunately, they then spend the time they aren’t coaching thinking about or doing work-related tasks.
There are no badges given out for working yourself into the ground. Work should be there to support you living the life you want to live, not taking over your life. There may be times when you choose to “grind” and do a bit more, but these should be short in duration and balanced by times of less pressure, not the norm.
Work expands to the time you allow it. It is important to have time when you aren’t focused on work. How you use that time is up to you, although I’d recommend prioritising the things that revitalise you, your own self care, family and friends. Not identifying time and space for ourselves tends to lead to burnout, stress and negativity, none of which are good for life or business.
It can be worth planning what you are going to do in the non-work time, particularly if you find it hard to switch off. Don’t sit there consciously trying not to think of work, plan activities and tasks that mean you are putting energy into another area of your life.
A Note About Client Boundaries…..
You don’t need to be on call. There are no emergency personal training situations where you need to be available 24/7 for 99.9% of clients (I’m assuming there may be key times with some competitive athletes where there could feasibly need to be trainers on call but for those of us who work with general population there aren’t any).
It’s also not up to your clients to fit their enquiries around your work hours. It’s up to you to have processes so that you don’t respond during non-work hours and ensure the expectations you create support the life you live. You create and ingrain client expectations with every communication you do, so make sure you are instilling the ones you want.
Task 2: Identify your non work time. If necessary, plan out what you are going to do in that time so that you aren’t sat there thinking about not working!
3 – Know (and Work on) Your Priorities:
This is another big one, loads of trainers I have spoken to either don’t know what their main priority is or they put their energy into things that aren’t going to move them forward on their priority.
If you don’t know what your priority is then start by identifying what you would like your life to look like. That can help you see where you need to make changes. If the ideal is a long way off from where you are now, break it down into smaller steps so you have an achievable goal that will take you in the direction you want to go. (LTB members: check out the “What does success mean to you” form if you want help identifying priorities or consider our Essentials level membership if you would prefer to work with a person.)
It’s really easy to work on tasks we perceive as simple, we are comfortable are within our skillset, or where we can see we are making progress. This means it’s common to have conversations with trainers where they say their main priority is getting more clients but when asked what they have done to ensure more of their target audience know about them or to move relationships forward they say they are working on a welcome pack or similar. Whilst there can definitely be a time and a place for a welcome pack once you have clients, they aren’t likely to play a part in attracting many new people to your business.
Of course, once you are clear on what you are going to do, the next stage is to make sure you do it! Do what works for you: create a tick list, put time in your diary, make sure you get it done first thing, bribe yourself, remove distractions, come up with if / then strategies, identify potential barriers and solutions for how you are going to remove, overcome or avoid them. There is no one magic way for making yourself productive but knowing yourself, being aware of what’s likely to lead you astray and putting plans in place will help you find the right answer for you.
If you don’t know what the individual tasks you need to do are, then find out. Generic tasks on your to do list are far less likely to be done as you use all your available time trying to decide what to do!
Where the priority is an outcome it’s a good idea to identify the supporting behaviours. These are the things that are within your control that move you towards your goal. In the case of attracting more clients they would be things that answer the following questions:
- What have I done today to ensure at least 1 more person in my target audience knows I exist? (E.G. Spoke to at least one person in the gym about what their training goals are, put a post in a local Facebook group where my target audience can be found)
- What have I done today to ensure at least 1 more person in my target audience knows how I can help them? (E.G. Boosted a post with a client quote about how training with me has improved their life highlighting the benefits they’ve identified, handed out a leaflet with the benefits of resistance training and my details to the attendees in my fitness class)
- What have I done today to ensure at least 1 more person in my target audience knows I have space and how they can access it? (E.G. Delivered flyers to all the houses in the street around the park where I train people, sent an email to everyone who has worked with me in the past letting them know I have availability)
- What have I done to move at least one relationship forwards? (E.G. Sent a useful article on knee pain to a person I did an induction with at the gym, had a chat with a person who commented on my post about what achieving their goal would mean to them)
You may not be able to see the results directly but keep doing those tasks and you know you are working towards your priority.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of procrastination now and then as long as it’s a choice, occasional and not preventing you from progressing. (e.g. when you go down the rabbit hole of trying to identify where you know a particular song from instead of writing a blog – turns out I know “Busy Doing Nothing” from Widow Twanky in a pantomime of Aladdin. I knew it wasn’t either Bing Crosby in 1949 or the Christopher Robin Soundtrack in 2018 like Google was trying to tell me! 😀).
Task 3: Ask yourself “What is my number 1 priority and what have I done today towards it?” Plan out your tasks for the next week based on progressing the main task.
4 – Have Realistic Expectations:
We all have a different life, different priorities and different dreams. Some of us have children, partners or dependent parents / grandparents, some have second jobs (or first jobs), demanding hobbies or studies. This means we all have different time restraints and different amounts of time available for our personal training work.
Having more or less time does not make us better or worse personal trainers, no one is inferior because they only PT session a week and no one is superior because they coach 60 sessions. Having more or less time does however impact what we can reasonably fit in.
Be realistic in how long things take and choose where you put in the time for 90% done and where 75% is good enough. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t beat yourself up if you misjudge what can be achieved.
Task 4: Give yourself permission to do what works for you and lighten up on your expectations. Revisit your list from task 3 if necessary.
The goal is to make the majority of the time we are working productive. Don’t aim for perfection, we are all wonderfully individually flawed humans after all, just remove the elements that are adding unnecessary stress and frustration so you have more time and energy to enjoy life.