Important Or Not? 12 Questions To Help Health And Fitness Professionals Better Prioritize Their Time
By John Berardi, PhDBusiness Development
The ultimate productivity hack? It’s saying “no” to more things. (So you can say “yes” exclusively to the right things). These 12 questions will help you figure out which is which so you can use your time more effectively, more purposefully, and more joyfully.
This Even Over That
Whether you’re a health and fitness employee, solopreneur, or business owner, there’s a lot to manage.
From coaching sessions, to email follow-ups, to program design, to lead acquisition, to lead nurturing, to invoicing and billing, it’s easy to feel like you’re running on a treadmill, going nowhere fast.
And that’s just your professional life. On the personal side there’s also your social life, recreational choices, and family commitments to balance.
Let’s face it, there will always be more options than resources.
Say you’ve started a new business and have identified “attracting new clients” as your big opportunity. That’s great. But how will you go about attracting them?
- With print or online ads?
- An expensive marketing campaign?
- Asking for referrals?
- Appearing on TV?
- Something else?
With limited time, attention, and money, it’ll be difficult to try everything that could work. (And impossible to do it all well.)
This means you’ll have to be selective, choosing the next few things to do based on cost, time requirement, skills needed, and probability of success.
From there you’ll have to prioritize those few things even over the long list of other things that feel important but can’t be invested in right now.
It’s this idea of doing X even over Y that makes prioritization so important, yet difficult. Because it means constantly saying no to a host of good opportunities to make room for the few great opportunities worth doing now.
If you’re feeling stuck on how to do that, consider these questions.
Will this make a difference on my most important goals?
Am I really sure?
Why do I think that?
If I think it’ll make a difference, how?
What will I do if it does work?
What will I do if it doesn’t?
Does this thing add value?
To my organization or business?
To my clients?
To the universe?
Would I be excited to share this with people I respect?
Get on stage and loudly proclaim that I do / did this?
When I think of doing this thing, would I think, “HELL YES!”?
Or would it be “HELL NO!”?
If The Big Picture Questions Are Promising,
Consider These Practical Questions
Am I absolutely, 10/10 confident that I can do this thing?
Do I really have the time, energy, mindset, and funds to allot to it?
How would my best friend answer the above question?
Logistically, what resources do I need to do this thing?
Time? Money? Skills? Other people?
Do I have those resources right now, or can I somehow get them?
If The Big Picture and Practical Are Promising,
Consider These Trade-Off Questions
If I do this thing, what will it break?
If I say “yes” to this thing, what do I have to say “no” to?
What am I prepared to give up or lose in order to get or do this thing?
12 Questions Too Many For You?
After years of asking these 12 questions I eventually realized they boil down to these two simple ones:
- Does anyone in the room think this thing will actually work?
- If we do it, what’s going to break?
So nowadays, whenever any new opportunity comes up, these are the two questions that jump to mind and help me begin the evaluation process.
Why Prioritization Is So Important To Me
One trick I use here is to visualize my commitments of time and energy on a zero (no commitments at all) to ten (time and energy are completely maxed out) scale.
Earlier in my career, I’d say yes to far too many things, living in the red zone, right around nine or ten. This meant I was always one unexpected problem or challenge away from overwhelm.
This created problems for me personally and professionally.
On the personal side, I never had enough mojo for non-work things like going on fun adventures with friends and family. Heck, even one night out felt like too much to take on.
And, on the professional side, should a really meaningful opportunity come up, I would either miss it (because I was too stressed to see its merit) or do it badly (because I didn’t have enough time or energy to do it well).
At one point I remember my to-do list included: writing a book, coordinating a multi-center research project, and traveling throughout the US and Canada to give a series of seminars. This on top of my daily Precision Nutrition responsibilities, my self care, my commitments to friends and family, and helping care for our newborn daughter.
I was a hair’s width from burnout. Then, in a single week, my wife got the flu and our car broke down. While these should have felt like small, routine disruptions, I felt like they signaled the end of the world.
Of course, everything worked out okay. However, I learned an important lesson that’s stuck with me to this very day. I now only commit to the amount of work that puts me in the five or six range.
The key, of course, is to remember that if I’m going to do fewer things I have to make sure those things really count!
Why This Is So Important For You
This prioritization and energy management approach offers three important advantages, making it good for business and good for you.
- It makes you much more selective, forcing you to take on only the highest impact, most meaningful work and life projects. Again, if you’re only going to do a few things, you’d better make them count.
- It leaves you with energy in reserve for personal interests, family time, and more. This means you can have some sort of work/life balance.
- It puts you in a position where you can occasionally take on additional high impact, short-term projects because you have energy units in reserve*.
*To this last point, be careful not do this too often lest you end up back where you started, constantly in the red zone. I accomplish this by doing weekly “check-ins” with myself (to re-evaluate where I am on the time and energy scale) and with my family (to make sure I get an outside view).
Want To Learn More? Go Deeper?
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