As part of having a stress-free life, looking at how you structure your day is one of the most important things to do.
When your school gets busier, and you have more people coming in, or you’re spending more time communicating with your students, you may (and probably will) find yourself setting more appointments and quite possibly bumping up against each other.
Have you ever experienced this (or been in a class like this)? You start class. Then for some reason, you go over by 5 minutes. No big deal, it’s only 5 minutes. Then you start the next class, and you go 5 minute over there too. But it’s not 5 minutes now… the NEXT class is actually TEN minutes late. And it happens over and over.
So ONE solution (and much touted) is simply to STICK TO THE SCHEDULE. If you’ve got 60 minutes, you have 60. Either a) you gotta become more efficient, or b) you gotta cut off the appointment.
A) definitely makes sense. But b? How does THAT help build relationships?
Knowing myself, I learned that one of my most powerful strengths is conversation and taking with my students and clients. So I knew that I could teach an intro lesson in 45 minutes, but if I signed them up, it might be as long as an hour, maybe even 75 minutes.
I remember a consultant teaching me that “it’s great to make your next appointment wait, because that makes you seem like you’re in demand!” Sure… but it also results in people getting pissed off and leaving! (He would give the example of being at the doctor’s office and having to wait… but don’t you get irritated at the doctor’s as well?)
So I added one simple thing to my appointments, called “fluff time.” Fluff time is a buffer of time that can serve for me to “go over” my scheduled appointment time if necessary. Or, if I don’t, give me time to do less important tasks.
Here’s an example. When I ran a martial arts school, I would typically book appointments on the hour, so at 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
But if my 5pm appointment signed up I would typically not start my 6pm until 615. And if I had a 7pm, I usually ended up calling them telling them to come at 730. (better than making them wait, but still inconvenient).
So instead, at a 30 minute buffer of “fluff time.”
Appointments at 4:30, 6PM, and at 730PM.
Sure, you have 2 less appointment spots in the books each night. But because you have more time in between, there’s no way of being stressed because you’re running “late,” or making the other appointment wait.
If you start to notice that you keep all of your appointments under 75 minutes, you can book them at 1:15 blocks:
4:00, 5:15, 6:30, 7:45PM
That recovers one more appointment spot. By the way, if you’re booking 4 appointments a night, you’re likely to sign up at least one person a day!
This also works well for your daily appointments.
For example, I take calls or appointments on 90 minute blocks. I start my day at 6AM.
6, 7:30, 9, 10:30, noon, 1:30, 3, 4:30, 6
Almost all of my activities during the day fall in this structure.
Example: this morning, I need to:
- Drop the cat at the vet
- Work out with my trainer
- Take 2 client calls
- Do one Podcast Interview
With these major appointments, I block them out. Now in the “fluff time” I can schedule other things I need to do that I know won’t take long, such as shower, make lunch, etc.
7:30AM Take Cat to Vet (15 mins)
9:00AM Work out with Trainer (60 min)
10:30AM Client Call (60 min)
12:00PM Revolution Call (60-75 min)
1:30PM Client Call (60-75 min)
3:00PM nothing scheduled
4:30PM Podcast Interview
I know that I’ll need to shower-20 min (10AM) have lunch-20 or 30 min (11:30AM), pick up the cat-30 mins to talk to the vet (most likely between 2PM and 4:30PM.
This has removed the “rush” of going from appointment to appointment, or at the very least, needing to make anyone else late.
So here are some action steps for you:
- Daytime appointments: 90 minute blocks. Set a schedule where you, for the most part, put your appointments on this schedule. Client calls, doctor appointments, whatever. Sticking to this plan may be tough at first but is very doable.
Example: 9AM, 10:30AM, Noon, 1:30PM, 3PM
2) Evening appointments in your business. These blocks will depend on how long you typically need. Even though some appointments are shorter and some are longer, block off enough time that both are covered with some fluff.
If you KNOW your appointments are rarely over 45 minutes, book 60 minute blocks (4,5,6,7,8)
60 minute appointments, book 75 minute blocks (4, 5:15, 6:30, 7:45)
75 minute appointments, book 90 minute blocks (4:30, 6:00, 7:30)
Notice on the 75 minute blocks, I centered around the prime time of 6-6:30. We want to have that as an available time as most of our clients can do that time,
In terms of class scheduleing, you can do the same thing with a little fluff time as well. Keep in mind that for the most part, a 200 person school can be supported with 20 classes a week (4 classes a night M-F or 5 classes a night M-Th)
If you’re running 45-50 minute classes (recommended) you can run them 4,5,6,7,8, or on the 1/2 hours with a little time in between.