This post came out of an excellent blog post written by Sol Orwell on Ramit Sethi’s blog, all about how Sol doesn’t work on Fridays. The gist is that Fridays are usually less than productive to begin with, and it gives a massive benefit to use this day as one for self-organizing, reading, networking, and catching up with new friends and family. That, and cookies.
I’ve found similar success in this approach. I started booking Thursdays off about 8 or 9 years ago, and have found it incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons. But first, a little background into how big of a step this was for me.
When I started working, I made myself available from 6am until 9pm Monday through Friday, and then from 8:30am until 4:30pm on Saturdays to train clients. In that timeframe, I wound up working up to sometimes 70 sessions a week in a one-on-one setting. I knew this was something that wasn’t a good idea for long-term, but as my career was still beginning and my clientele was growing, I was riding the wave as long as I could.
In an average 15 hour day, I would wind up training anywhere from 8-13 clients, but I started to notice that the ones who would book on Thursday weren’t there with a consistent time, or with no other options in terms of days or times of day that they could train. I asked the clients who were in only once a week if they could switch to another day (none said no), and the ones who were only occasionally in, I just booked them on other days. For instance, a normal rotation for some clients is to train either Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday and Thursday. For the Tuesday and Thursday clients, I could easily move some to a Tuesday and Friday rotation, and others to a Monday and Wednesday rotation. For those who were only once a week, it was easy to put them where ever they would fit on other days. Saturdays were for overflow or cancelled sessions during the week, or those who couldn’t make it downtown during the week or who wanted to not pay $10 for parking each time they came in.
Here’s an example of my schedule before the shift to Thursdays off. Colour matched sessions were recurring appointments, and dark blue blocks were once a week sessions that were entirely mobile and could be booked on any day, or were non-regular appointments.
And here’s what that same schedule looks like when I shifted my Thursday sessions to other days in the week.
I was able to shift and free up an entire day off work without losing a single session, and without majorly impacting my clients. This allowed for a few major benefits to me, not including a day to sleep in and recharge before hitting the other half of the week. It also allowed me to run any kind of errands that otherwise wouldn’t get done, write programs for clients, go through emails, phone calls, and all of the other “stuff” that would get pushed to the side during a busy week.
It also gave me a chance to do some reading, get in a workout, and spend some time with my then girlfriend and now wife.
This worked really well, but I started to look at how I could pare down my schedule more, especially as I started to get into teaching more weekend workshops, as well as wanting to expand writing and other online elements. So I decided to shift some of my Saturday clients into the week, and opened up small group training hours in the mornings.
So now instead of working 6 days a week for ridiculous number of hours, I managed to trim over 20 hours out of my schedule without losing a single session, and had a few breaks in those 4 days to make sure I wasn’t working straight through all day and driving myself insane.
The decision to condense my days like this was a major tipping point in my life, and helped lead into developing the other elements of my personal business. Time is always finite, and if time is occupied in one place, it can’t be occupied in other places. Now instead of only having potentially one day per week to do the organizational elements and programming that comes with being a personal trainer and trying to expand my role by writing for this blog or looking to smash out different products, open spots for distance coaching, write for other sites, or any of the other stuff I’ve dabbled in over time.
Since then, I’ve pared my schedule down further (6am-3pm Monday and Friday, 6am-6pm Tuesday and Wednesday), but Thursdays are still off. When I say off, that just means that I’m not training clients. I still use this day as a scheduling day for other appointments like Skype consults or podcasts, etc. It’s nice to have weekends off for a change, which is something I’d never had a chance to have since I was in high school. I’d either play sports and go to tournaments, work a part time job around school, or train clients, so it was novel, and to be honest I didn’t know what to do with myself for a little while. I felt the same with Thursdays.
Now a lot of the stuff I do on these Thursdays off involve some form of personal development. I’ll read blogs, news articles, or research in the morning, then work through emails or contacts, book client sessions, or write in the late morning before lunch, eat, and then either run errands or get in a workout, have dinner with Lindsay, and then chill out in the evening. Sometimes doing nothing can be productive in terms of rejuvenation.
The point of this article is to show how convention of working Monday to Friday doesn’t actually have to be in place in your life, and you may actually get more from altering your schedule, condensing days, and having more free time available to devote to other pursuits. Of course, if your work requires you to work specific hours, shift work, or other elements, you can’t get around that, but if you work in a job where you have the ability to schedule yourself, or adjust based on your work loads, you could likely reduce the total number of hours worked and be more productive with the hours you do work, while also freeing up time to do other things, maybe do a workout or six, and get more out of the hours you have versus just putting in more hours.