Health and wellness really is different–even when it comes to time management! These four strategies tackle the most common schedule management challenges for health and wellness professionals:
The good news: most of you care deeply about the people in your community. You’re passionate about making a real and lasting difference, and you want to reach as many people as you can.
The bad news: you overdo it. You nickel and dime your time away.
- You donate 60 minutes of fitness classes to the retirement home because you love seniors and you feel great afterwards. Of course, it’s really three hours by the time you figure drive time, preparation, visiting with the home director and staff after your classes, and so on.
- You lead two free yoga classes every week at the women’s shelter.
- You’re helping a friend’s Scout troop work on the Backpacking badge – oh, and also Archery, Bird Study, Camping, and Canoeing.
- Give yourself a good deeds time budget. For this example, let’s say you decide to contribute 7 hours/week to giving back and helping others, above and beyond the help you provide in your professional capacity.
- Jot down everything you’re doing that represents a “give back to my community” or volunteer activity.
- For each activity, note about how much time you spend on it. Include everything: prep, wrap-up or cleanup, drive time, time spent socializing before or after the actual event, time you spend THINKING about it even when you’re not actively doing the activity.
- Rank in whatever order you prefer: the amount of personal joy you get from it, the amount of time it takes, how close it is to your workplace, or some other factor that seems meaningful to you.
- Now, starting from the top, how many activities can you fit into your 7-hour/week “good deeds” budget?
- Draw the line there, and start disentangling yourself from everything below the line.
(This article on how to say no may be helpful, too.)
2) Continuing education
The good news: I’ve never met a health and wellness professional who didn’t love continuing education. As a profession and an industry, you love knowledge and you’re always looking for new ways to improve on what you do, to the benefit of everyone you serve.
The bad news: you overdo it.
- You spend dozens and dozens, often hundreds of hours/year on continuing education, often increasingly specialized (“Maximizing Flexibility in the Posterior Anterior Whatsit,” anyone?) while neglecting activities that actually contribute much more substantially to building a healthy, sustainable business.
- You commit 12 weekends to an in-depth class on the needs of women with late-in-life pregnancies. But you never find time to put together the marketing plan that will actually integrate your new knowledge as a key part of your business.
- You enroll in a six-month wellness coaching certificate program even though you already have a fistful of certifications, licenses and degrees…when your biggest problem is a lack of paying clients, not a lack of knowledge.
Try this approach instead: add up how many hours of continuing ed you need to meet your license or certification requirements for the year. Add 10% or even 20%–because I know you don’t want to do just the bare minimum. Then, use that number as your time budget for professional development.
3) program improvement
The good news: you’re never satisfied. You know in your heart:
- That your weight management program would be better if you overhauled the module on stress.
- That your triathlon training site would be better if you implemented a mentored discussion forum.
- That your diabetes management services would be improved if you added online videos to support web-based training programs.
The bad news: you delay marketing your program for a year while you improve it. Then, once the changes are in place, you “don’t have time” to overhaul your marketing and website to integrate your new features and capabilities and explain how you’re now even more different from your competitors.
Another approach: establish an every-other-year schedule for program overhauls and significant revisions. Refocus that time and energy on building your business–doing the things that increase awareness and visibility and that strengthen your day-to-day operations. Meanwhile, keep notes of all your ideas and inspirations as they occur to you. That way, you won’t lose them between now and next year.
4) doing what you love
If you love everything you do, you’re doing it wrong.
To be more specific, you’re almost certainly checking out of crucial business activities–ignoring your financial results until tax season, delegating your marketing to an intern or virtual assistant, blindly signing a lease rather than having the tough negotiating conversations with your landlord.
The stuff you love–teaching healthy lifestyle classes, working up a new program–will take care of itself. It’ll ALWAYS find time on your calendar, as it should.
But the real job of a business leader is to do what makes the business strong.
So bite the bullet and carve out time for everything that makes your business “go”…not just the fun parts.