Hey yogis and yoginis,
I know this blog post is focusing on time management for yoga instructors, but these tips will be helpful for anyone who owns a small business, takes appointments, or runs a busy household.
I’m writing this post after going through a year long period of burnout, where I got less done than I should have/could have, mismanaged my time, wasn’t focused, and was struggling in my marriage and my business. I was ready to throw in the towel… and then I just kept sliding down that slippery slope. I needed an energetic shift and I needed it badly ASAP!
As I reflect back on 2017 I can’t help but think about this Paolo Coehlo quote, “Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent because otherwise, you’d sink into chaos.” Chaos was my middle name.
I’ve finally made it out the other side! Hallelujah! I’ve been spending the past month reprioritizing, saying exactly what I need and taking charge of not only my time, but my own wellbeing. I’ve given myself more structure, which has allowed for more freedom.
Here are the time management techniques and apps that I’ve used to take control of my life and truly begin to thrive again.
Time Management for Yoga Instructors
1. Establish routines.
Your brain loves routines. Routines become habit. They become automated. Remember learning about samskaras? Not all samskaras are bad, in fact many are what keep us alive and healthy. Establish a morning wake-up routine and a routine for going to bed. Eventually we want all of these time management tips to be automated.
2. Stack your classes or appointments.
We’ve all had those days when classes, appointments, and one-on-ones line up poorly and you feel like you can’t get anything done. There are a couple of techniques you can use here. The first technique, schedule your heavy teaching days Monday-Wednesday and leave Thursday and Friday for business tasks. The second technique, schedule your classes back-to-back each day. For example, teach Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9am to 1pm and leave 2pm to 5pm to tackle business tasks.
For me, I like to stack my classes in the afternoon/evening because I’m more creative and inspired in the morning. It’s a great time for me to blog and get stuff done! If you’re struggling to fit in your own yoga practice attend the class right after your class or use the empty studio to practice on your own. You’re already there and you’re already warmed up.
3. Block your time.
This tip for time management adds on to tip number two. I advise you to login to Google Calendar and create a new calendar called “Ideal Schedule” and block out your time. Remember to establish routine, so try to keep the days similar… this will make life easier for you because you will know exactly what to expect. Once you know what your ideal schedule looks like begin shifting your classes and commitments, so they align with a schedule you love.
4. Prioritize your tasks.
If you’re a master of the “to-do” list like me, we’re going to switch it up. Yes, you can still have your beloved to-do list, but now it’s going to be prioritized. Number those babies. Prioritizing your tasks is one of the most important tips when it comes to time management for yoga instructors and pretty much any working professional. When you’re prioritizing tasks take into consideration deadlines, the time it’s going to take to complete the task, whether it’s necessary, and whether it makes you money. Also, ask yourself if the task can be automated (especially if it’s a repetitive task).
5. Batch tasks.
Every time you switch gears it takes 11-30 minutes to get back into the groove. It’s very important that you batch your tasks. You don’t need to create a new yoga playlist each week, instead take one day (one creative block) and create them all for the month. Your mind, your body, your energy all get in the zone and you’ll end up creating awesome playlists… instead of scrambling to create a new one each week. Don’t have time to create playlists? Borrow them. Get yourself a Spotify premium account and follow other teachers who have playlists you like.
Instead of coming up with your social media content daily, batch it. Spend one creativity block creating your posts for the next two weeks or month. Create docs with all of your hashtags, common quotes, links etc. and use them. Do all of your advertising prep at the same time. All your writing at the same time. All your emails at the same time.
Learning to batch my tasks was one of the most valuable time management tools I learned this year.
6. Schedule breaks/buffers.
I love to over schedule myself… I don’t recommend it. So here is a chance for you to do as I say, not as I do. Okay, this is actually something I’m working hard on right now. Schedule breaks. Go walk your dog, do a couple of yoga poses, read a passage from an inspiring book. Yes, you do have time. I promise. Work less, to work smarter.
7. Schedule your practice/meditation/exercise.
You are an entrepreneur. And life as an entrepreneur gets crazy, and sometimes you end up going down a rabbit hole you don’t know how to get out of. Yoga, meditation, exercise…. that’s your ladder. Do it. Schedule it or it won’t happen. Some of your best inspiration will come while walking your dogs, resting in a yoga pose, or during that post workout glow. Hard truth: you cannot serve your community if you’re not taking care of yourself!
8. Set achievable, measurable goals and break them down into “bite size” pieces.
Gamify your progress. Use apps that track your goal progress. It might sound silly but when a little unicorn with some sparkles floats across your screen because you’ve achieved a task it’s awesome.
9. Say no to classes/events that actually cost your business.
Could your time be spent better working on something else? This is a hard lesson. When you’re first starting out and you don’t have much of a following say yes. Say yes to every opportunity to teach. Once you’re established, stop it. Seriously. You have an immense amount of value to share with the world. Before you commit to an event, get real and ask yourself if this engagement actually benefits you. And definitely don’t give up a day off if the class/event doesn’t meet your specific parameters. Your time is valuable, this is a lesson in healthy boundaries.
10. Class theme-ing and planning.
Okay yoga instructors, are you still planning individual classes with every pose memorized or noted? Can I ask you to stop doing this? You’re making teaching yoga harder than it needs to be. Don’t make life harder. Have your theme, have your peak pose(s), and have your playlist and show up and be present. What do your student’s need most?
I taught a class this morning focusing on lengthening the side body with some beautiful side body postures… all the students (except one) were knew to me because I was subbing. I did chat with most of the students before class to figure out what was going on in their body/life. A gal that has been doing a year of physical therapy for her lower back and hips was in class and she commented afterward about loving the class and being able to check off five of her daily physical therapy exercises. Lesson: it is more important to be knowledgable (always learning) and present than it is to plan a class from beginning to end.
11. Do not overload yourself with tasks and projects.
Have only 1-2 (no more than 3). I’m guilty of this. Likely, if you’re reading this you’re guilty too. I have so many dreams and plans, this is one of the hardest things for me as far as time management as a yoga instructor. I now limit myself to one or two big projects and one little project. What happens when we overload ourselves? We end up suffering. We feel like we’re not getting enough done. No matter how big or small your tasks are, break them down into small achievable to dos.
12. Minimize distractions.
Create a sacred space for work to happen. No pets, no kids and no social media. If it’s possible for your schedule, get your most important work done when you’re distraction free. The kids are at school. The dogs have been walked and fed. And then turn off your social media notifications or use an app that limits your social media time. Skip the scrolling. Use social media for business and don’t get sucked into the endless stream of videos, “news”, and political posts. Not worth it… and really, do these posts add value to your life? Be honest.
13. Schedule “email time” and don’t respond to emails outside this time.
I have been a chronic inbox checker. Out of class… check email. Bored… check email. Waiting in line… check email. Stopped at a red light… check email. Limiting my ability to check email has saved my sanity and honestly I feel so much happier not doing it ALL DAY LONG. And while you’re responding to emails, delete all the garbage… or even better: UNSUBSCRIBE.
14. Declutter & get organized.
Clutter = time wasted looking for things. I quarterly purge things. I love getting rid of things. Over many months spent traveling abroad I’ve learned to decipher what I need from what I don’t need. Clean out your closet and dresser. Donate what can be donated and toss out the rest. Do you need thirty pairs of underwear? Probably not. Do you need thirty pairs of yoga pants? Even if you’re teaching 15+ classes a week the answer is no.
Organize your computer files, your bookmarks, your playlists, your bookshelves, your closet. Clear your work space. Put seasonal items in storage. Unsubscribe from newsletters you’re not currently reading. If you don’t read it when it shows up in your inbox, chances are you will never read it.
The tasks that take you A LOT of time to finish, should be delegated to someone else. Hire a cleaner for your house. Ask your partner to take over dinner “x” numbers of nights a week. Use a grocery delivery service or similar. Have pet food delivered to your house. Hire a virtual assistant to help with social media, blogging, etc.
16. Plan ahead.
If you’re working on big projects and you know you have big deadlines or events coming up, plan for it. Start working on them early. Delegate tasks when it’s near. Ask for help.
17. Find out where you’re wasting time.
Rewriting the same emails? Creating playlists? I’ve known for years that I’ve needed to write standard form emails that address common concerns from students and clients and for the longest time I didn’t realize exactly how much time I was wasting writing these emails individually. No more. Repetitive tasks are being automated, so I have more time to spend with my family and friends. If you’re not sure where you’re wasting time, use a time tracking app. You will quickly find out what’s wasting your time, whether it’s social media, distractions, responding to emails throughout the day, etc.
18. Don’t get hung up on unimportant details.
If it’s not important, don’t waste your time and energy on it. Not every task/detail is important. Work on figuring our what is most important to your success and focus your time and energy on that.
19. Form new habits.
Yes, this means change. Change is tough for many of us. Change pushes us out of the comfort of our usual day to day routines. Now is the time to develop new time management habits that serve your wellbeing. Set healthy boundaries. Rework your schedule (that might mean giving up a class or two). Wake up on the first alarm. Get your exercise or yoga in before your first work commitment. Drink 8 oz. of warm water in the morning. Get rid of old habits + automate new habits = success.
I’ve mentioned automation a few times. It is so important to automate repetitive tasks and streamline your work flow. This is a HUGE time saver!
21. Schedule exercise.
Yes, exercise has already been included. Do it. No excuses. Schedule it. Make it happen.
22. Eat simple, healthy meals with minimal prep time.
Plan your meals. If you know you have to teach late, plan an easy meal. Don’t tempt yourself to eat junk food. Feed yourself nourishing meals with simple ingredients. I love to cook, so at least once or twice a week I try out a new, elaborate recipe for dinner. It’s fun for me and not a chore because 1) I love it and 2) all the other meals I’ve prepared have been easy.
Also, this is an opportunity to remind you to use convenience services. Fred Meyers/Krogers has a program called clicklist and they only charge $5 to do your grocery shopping for you. You choose the time to pick it up and voila! It’s ready for you at that time. Numerous cities have organic veggie delivery. Blue Apron might be another easy option for you.
23. Commit to your tasks.
Don’t dilly dally. Commit. Get it done. Ask for help when you need it.
24. Use the tools available to you.
There are so many tools that can help with project management and time management as a yoga instructor. Many of these tools I didn’t even know existed until I started speaking with professionals in other industries. Why we don’t learn these skills in YTT is beyond me.
- Project Management: Asana
- Calendar: Google Calendar
- Automated social media posts: Hootsuite, MeetEdgar, or Buffer.
- Email: Mailchimp
- Time tracking: Focus Booster and RescueTime
- Goals: TimePlanner, Coach.me, Goals On Track & Google Goals
- Playlists: Spotify
- Email Templates: Google Doc (just copy and paste into your emails
- Your cellphone: Turn off notifications for social media apps
- Notes and To-Do Lists: Google Keep
Pick a handful of these techniques and tips to master now and as you get more confident in your time management as a yoga instructor add a few new techniques. Eventually, they will become automated and you won’t even have to think about it anymore. Life will be more streamlined, which means more time for the important things that bring you joy.
Anything I missed? Comment below with your favorite time management apps and tips.
Love and Light,