In the thirty-eight years that I have been a personal trainer and in health club management, I have acquired many skills. I have designed club websites, done the advertising, marketing programs, social media, written newsletters, created employee training manuals, trained staff, taught CPR to all of the staff, created new programs, yada, yada, yada. This is a great thing and… it’s also a potential problem. The great aspect is obvious. It means that I don’t have to outsource to others and can keep my expenses down, as well as get things done when and how I want them done. Sounds good, right? How could there be a down side?
Well here’s the problem, when you can do most everything, you feel like you should, and if you spend all of that time working IN your business, where are you going to find the time to work ON your business? If you hope to grow your business, then you must spend time on being the big picture person. You have to get away from the little stuff and focus on the things that will have long-lasting impact on the success of your business. There are endless systems out there to help you decide what to focus on. Here are two that I like using.
The first is the Four D’s of Time Management. Here you filter whatever task is in front of you into one of four categories. These include Do it (no question, you need to do it now), Delay it (OK, maybe you need to or choose to do it, but not right now), Delegate it (if someone else can do it, and this may mean hiring someone, have them do it), and Drop it (just as it implies, take it off your list).
The second tool is Stephen Covey’s time management grid. In this one, you can overlap tasks with the four D’s.
Square 1, urgent and important, means that the task desires immediate action and it is important to you and your business. This could be fire alarm going off in your facility or a financial decision that needs an answer now (Do It or, if you can, Delegate It).
Square 2, not urgent, but important, means that while it doesn’t need to be done right now, it is essential to do in order to build a successful business. These are the big picture decisions about your business, such as who your target market is or what your mission statement is (this needs to be you, Do It!).
Square 3, urgent, but not important, means that it desires to be done immediately, but is really not important for you to do. Here are the daily “fires” that need to be put out and often eat up your time. You might put items like the bathroom being out of toilet paper or “spill in aisle one” on this (Delegate It).
Square 4, not urgent and not important. This serves no real need. Imagine one of the many salespeople that will come calling on you to sell you something you don’t need or want as an example. (just Drop It!).
All this said, whether it is because we lack the staff or luck of funds to hire out, we may still have to do some of the tasks that would ideally be dealt with by someone else. Using a previous example, if you’re a one person show and the bathroom is out of toilet paper, you are going to have to step up and do it yourself. However, you should still start with your current to do list and filter the items on it through these tools. Then, when something new comes up, run it through to see where it falls and if you need to be attending to it. We are so easily caught up in things we can do, when we should, as much as possible, stick to only those that we should or must do.