Organization Pro Tips is a blog series where trainers share their tried and true organizational strategies.
Organization for personal trainers may not be the most fun business topic, but it’s an incredibly important one! Whether you work with clients in-person, online, or a combination of the two, you have a lot on your plate. Between writing programs, checking in with clients and handling administration, there’s a lot to manage.
When you have proper systems and structures in place, you no longer need to worry about whether or not you’re forgetting something. You won’t spend your entire day feeling like you’re one step behind or constantly having to run through your mental to-do list. Instead, you can move through your day feeling confident that everything is in its place and you know exactly what you need to do and when.
Because I run two separate businesses—and essentially have two sub-businesses within one of those businesses—keeping things organized is the key to ensuring my clients get the service they deserve and that I don’t burn myself out running around trying to stay on top of everything. Organization for personal trainers is up to personal preference, but I hope at least one of the tips that follow will help you in your quest to become more organized!
#1. Keep your calendar organized
There will always be a debate over what’s better: a paper calendar or a digital one. I spent most of my life being a pen-to-paper kind of girl, but as my business started to grow and I had more moving parts, I realized a digital calendar would be far more efficient. As soon as a training session, coaching session, or meeting is arranged, I put it in Google Calendar. Everything is colour-coded—each type of session I offer has its own colour, in-person meetings have a different colour than phone or video meetings, and my personal activities have their own colour as well. This makes it easy to take a quick glance at my week and know what’s going on.
In order to avoid the last minute scramble, I set up every event to give me a reminder 30 minutes before. Google Calendar Reminders are also incredibly helpful events that can remind you of one-off things that need to be done that may not warrant blocking off an entire timeslot. For example, I add Calendar Reminders the week before all of my clients’ birthdays so I can get their cards ready, and a Reminder the day of so I can send them a quick message.
Use regular timeslots
Outside of organizing your calendar itself, you can also stay organized in terms of how you book sessions and meetings. For example, all of my personal training clients pick one training time and commit to it. They essentially “own” their timeslot, and while we’ll reschedule wherever possible when something comes up, having a consistent training schedule makes things easier for us both.
Establish a weekly schedule
Personally, I only book personal training sessions two evenings and one morning each week. I keep my coaching sessions on one other weekday, and I book any meetings on one of my free afternoons before personal training sessions. This leaves a full day for administrative work and two full days off. I’ve found that keeping similar types of events in one day keeps my brain feeling fresh and reduces the time I spend traveling to and from meetings and sessions.
#2. Use a paper planner
I keep all of my daily to-dos in a paper planner. I tried numerous apps and online task management programs, however I found that it was far too easy to continue adding to my list. At one point, I was using one platform that allowed me to make multiple lists; I had NINETEEN lists with numerous items on each. This is NOT a good tactic for organization for personal trainers—or for anyone!
Write a daily To Do list
The benefit of paper planners is that they’re usually small, which means they limit the amount of items you can add. One of the best ways to stay organized is to reduce the number of things you commit to! I try to keep a maximum of five items on my daily to-do list, however three is my ideal number. Each item on the to-do list is a standalone task, which means I wouldn’t add something like “build my website” to my list. Instead, I might add “write the content for my home page” or another solo task that is part of building a website.
Structure team communication
When it comes to communicating with my team, we use an online platform called Trello. This allows us to stay on the same page with regards to who’s responsible for what, but each week I still take the items I’m responsible for and add them to the corresponding days in my paper planner.
#3. Use a cloud-based file storage system
Dropbox and Google Drive have been two of my biggest lifesavers. Storing files in cloud-based storage systems frees up storage space on your computer’s hard drive, makes it easy to share documents with others, and allows you to access your documents on any device.
The way I use these two platforms may seem a little confusing, but try to stick with me. I use Google Drive for entire folders that need to be shared with others. For example, I have folders for projects my team and I are working on, and folders for my clients that contain notes and recordings from coaching sessions. I can easily share the folders with them, and then any documents that are added to the folders will be visible to both of us.
I use Dropbox for pretty much everything else. It’s where I store all of my photos, personal and legal documents, and any projects I’m working on in my businesses that don’t involve other team members, like standalone PDFs or audio files. All of the folders are set up in a way that makes sense to my brain, and if I do need to share a file with someone else, I can easily copy a link and send it to them.
Trial and learning
The great thing about organization for personal trainers is that there are so many different tools you can use and things you can try. I would encourage you to try things that are outside your comfort zone. I’d likely be spending way more time than necessary on my schedule if I hadn’t branched out to digital (and I’d have a very messy calendar!).
Try something new, give it some time, and know that if it doesn’t work for you, there are lots of other options out there.