Time Management Strategies by a Busy Fit Chick

TAGS: manage time, Monster Energy, Busy Fit Chick, Time Management Strategies, online training business, Alycia Israel


Over the course of this past year as I've begun taking on more career opportunities, I have found my time beginning to thin. For those of you reading who may be unfamiliar, my career is pretty widespread. I work full time at Ohio State University overseeing the personal trainers and fitness programs, but I also do a few more things. I have an online training business where I average training 35 to 40 clients consistently, I plan the kick-ass elitefts events such as Strong(er) Business and Sports Performance Summit (coming soon March 10th by the way!), and I am a Brand Ambassador for Monster Energy.

RECENT: Alycia’s List of Takebacks

So on average, I work over 60 hours a week. And to be clear, I am not complaining or bragging, for that matter. I absolutely love what I do and having my hands in different pots. But, you add all that to my own personal goals in training and competing and it can get overwhelming, to say the least. Eventually, I got to a point where I either had to drop something off my plate or really sit down and strategize my time better. And if you know me, I’m not much for dropping anything off my plate, so I went with the latter. Below are a few methods that I used to overcome the craziness and now manage my time with some strategy.

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Take Advantage of Dead Time

Think about all the minutes of the day spent doing absolutely nothing, at least from a work-related task or mental perspective. For example, consider driving, taking a shower, doing chores, etc. Imagine if we had all those minutes back to be work-productive. Now, obviously that is impossible, but we can make better use out of what I call Dead Time. Dead Time is just empty space in our day that isn’t necessarily task-oriented or productive for our careers or our work. What if we could make use of our Dead Time? This is something I started thinking about around a year ago when I was at a point where I felt my plate was overflowing. I would get frustrated in moments of “wasted time,” so I started thinking of ways to fill in the gaps. These gaps of Dead Time might seem trivial to some people, but for me, thinking ahead and planning how to use what was once “wasted time” became super helpful. There are a few main areas of Dead Time I started to particularly pay attention to. For me, this was driving and appointments.

Driving is tricky because you absolutely must pay attention; I am not advising anyone to text or be distracted while driving. But I started using my drive time every day to mentally prepare and plan out my day. I know it sounds silly, but essentially every morning on the way to my full-time job, I plan out a timeline in my head for the day. I make mental notes of what absolutely needs to be done, and anything else completed for the day is just counted as extra. This little bit of effort every morning I find to be extremely relaxing as well, so I don’t roll into work stressed out and unorganized. I go in with a game plan and I execute.

Appointments are another big culprit of Dead Time. How many times have you taken your car in for an oil change that was supposed to take 30 minutes and it ended up taking two hours, leaving you sitting there doing nothing but waiting until your car is ready? Plan ahead and bring stuff with you to work on. Worst case, the appointment does only take 30 minutes and you’re out of there. For any type of appointment I have, whether it is for my car, a doctor’s appointment, etc., I always bring something to work on. But let’s think outside the box here. Ladies (and guys too, if you’re into that sort of thing), what do you do when you get a pedicure? You just sit there, right? Bring your laptop and get some work done! Going to the airport? Work. Taking the bus? Work. If you really think about the Dead Time in your day, I bet you can come up with a lot of wasted time. So the time IS there — use it!

Manage Your Energy Distribution

For me, this piece was a huge culprit in how I managed my time. It wasn’t so much what I was doing throughout the day, but how I was doing it. Learning how to manage my energy has dramatically helped my time management this past year. Historically I would call myself a "yes" person. In the past, I have put everyone and everything before myself and what I needed to do personally. My energy was given away too freely and it simply wore me out. Learning to say no has been one of the most productive things I have done for myself this past year. I needed to prioritize my energy and myself. At the end of the day, you cannot be everything for everyone. If you are wearing yourself thin, your best self won’t even have the opportunity to show up.

RELATED: What's Worse Than No?

So what did I do? It might sound mean, but I ignored some texts, I denied some party invites, I said no to unnecessary work projects, I rescheduled meetings for a time that made sense for my schedule, etc. For once, I started putting myself first and respecting my time. A trainer waited all semester to complete a project and therefore needs my immediate attention? No. A friend wants to call to bitch about her lame-ass boyfriend for 45 minutes? Hard pass. A big obstacle I had to overcome was recognizing that someone else’s emergency was not my obligated urgency. This is where a lot of my time was eaten up; clients submitting things late, someone waiting until the last minute to get something to me, etc. Another person's unpunctuality is not my problem to solve.

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I found that sometimes having tougher boundaries of my time not only helps my energy and mental equity but it also helps others learn how to work with me and the expectations that I have set. Constantly yielding to late client updates that affect my other clients who turn their updates in on time is not fair, and it doesn’t teach the tardy client a damn thing. If a client update is late, they get reviewed last, after everyone else. Plain and simple. Personally, I’ve never turned in an update late to any coach I have had since I started competing. That’s hundreds upon hundreds of updates. It is not that hard. Respect your time and energy.

Take Care of Yourself First

Like I stated previously, if you are not taking care of yourself then you are not allowing your best self a seat at the table. I personally went through this a little over a year ago, when my training and nutrition was shit because I was so busy focusing on everyone else that “needed” me. I completely left myself and my own goals in the dust. I wasn’t reaching personal training goals, my nutrition wasn’t thought out (which meant I didn’t look the way I wanted), and I was just freaking exhausted. I was exhausted from putting all of my energy into everyone else that I didn’t have any energy to put into myself.

This did nothing but make me resentful of what I was doing! I hated my career, my clients became “inconvenient", I wasn't enjoying my work — you name it, it was happening. I was fed up. So instead of staying in this vicious cycle of shit, I hired a coach to take care of my programming and get my shit together. This was the best thing I ever did not only for myself but also for my career. I became re-motivated, I was making strides again, I felt accountability to someone, I was excited to program for clients, and I was finally taking care of myself first. All in all, you need to prioritize the time to train, meal prep, and do what you've got to do for your personal goals. If you don’t make the time to reach your own goals and make strides personally, you will become resentful of the things you let get in the way. You CAN really do it all; you've just got to do YOU first.

I hope you found these strategies helpful, as they really have been a game changer in my life. I am definitely not perfect and still may submit elitefts articles late sometimes (sorry, Sheena!) but I have such a stronger grasp on my daily tasks. I definitely cut it close with how much I typically have on my plate, but the one thing I have learned is that there is always enough time. We choose how we use our time, and if we use it wisely we can truly accomplish a lot of cool shit.


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