Remember the good ol’ days, when all you had to focus on was training clients? There you were, the staff trainer, training hour after hour, concentrating only on the client in front of you, eager to reach your self-imposed quota so that you could rest up at home or recharge with friends until the next day, when you did it all again. Now you manage a business, simultaneously handling financials, marketing, planning, client relations for you and your other trainers, office management and a host of other duties, while still training clients!

All of which creates a new dilemma: How do you get it all done and still have some semblance of a life? Never fear, frantic one. I have assembled the following sure-fire tips to create more productivity, reduce stress and remember why you love this business so much.

Write Things Down
I know this seems like a big “duh,” but it’s amazing how many people still operate out of their heads and then they wonder why they’re awake at 3:00 AM with important tasks rattling around in their head. When tasks are recorded on a to-do list, it clears brain space for other things. Also, don’t do anything that’s not on your to-do list. Even if you have to write it down just before you do it, that will keep you on track. We often waste our time doing non-essential things that happen to crop up. Write everything on your list, highlighting the things that are urgent and important, and do only those things on your list.

Be Realistic about Your Time
When you plan out your day on your to-do list, make sure you’re not setting yourself up to feel like you’ve failed by expecting too much to get done. Give yourself a realistic amount of time to accomplish each task, and then hold yourself accountable to that time frame. Most highly creative and ambitious people are eager to take on every new project or opportunity that comes their way. Be aware of how much time you have to dedicate to something. Don’t overextend your time commitments. Even more, understand that your time is your most precious resource. Be very cautious in how you dole it out.

If you’re in a leadership position, you know delegating is often easier said than done. Learning to delegate is a skill that many entrepreneurs fail to hone because of their hands-on, get-it-done style. Although your work ethic is exceptional, be prepared to share your task load by training your employees effectively so they can take a project to completion with minimal guidance. You don’t have to do it all yourself if you make the time to train others to assist you.

Focus Solely on the Task at Hand
Work without diversion until the job is 100% complete. Make sure you have all the necessary information and tools ready before you begin a project so that you can work without interruption until the task is complete. Every time you break from a task, you waste an incredible amount of time getting refocused and back on task. If you know you’ll be interrupted often during a given period of time, use that time for small, quick wrap-up tasks that don’t require much focus.

Learn to Say No
Just because you’re asked to do something, don’t think you are obligated. Your first priority is building your business. If the project you’re considering doesn’t directly and immediately help build your business, pass on it for now. If it’s important, the opportunity to jump in again will come about. Make a priority list to help you determine exactly what you should focus on for the short-term, and say no to anything that falls outside of that list. The closer you stick to your priority list, the more productive you’ll become.

Take Breaks
Just as rest and recovery is a vital component to progressing in any training program, down time is equally as important in time management. In both cases, it is during rest that the body becomes stronger. You certainly wouldn’t expect a client to train intensely, seven days a week continually. In fact, you would strongly recommend against it, knowing that without recovery, the client’s hard work will begin to work against him. Similarly, when you work continually, you will lose focus and productivity, and your hard work will begin to work against you. Take long weekends occasionally, and get out of town. Give your mind time to wander, to silence itself, to imagine. Find regular times to break away, be with friends or be alone. Step away now and then from all the “doing” of your life, and become a “being.”

Manage Your Energy Rather Than Your Time
Rather than figuring out new ways to harness time, what if instead you focused on ways to build and maintain high levels of energy so that you were massively productive at work and still came away from your day feeling fabulous? When we’re energized and excited, we can get amazing amounts of work done, and it doesn’t feel like work at all. On the contrary, when we’re forcing ourselves to work harder, productivity suffers, as do we! Everybody generates energy and excitement from different things, but often they are taking breaks, working toward a higher purpose, having fun, allotting time to care for yourself, etc.

Clear the Clutter
From a messy desk to an inefficient office to unnecessary noise, clutter takes many forms. Your brain craves order and serenity to function optimally. If you surround yourself with clutter, even emotional clutter, your productivity will suffer. Make it a habit to clear your desk, organize your workspace, reduce noise pollution and interruptions, ignore and delete emails that aren’t important or serve only as entertainment, keep your schedule regular and reliable and leave life’s dramas for someone else. Allow only important and relevant information into your workspace and your brain. Literally and figuratively, throw everything else away.

Shelby Murphy is the editor of PFP, the owner of Shelby Murphy Training & Fitness personal training studio and the owner and coach of Granbury Adventure Boot Camp. She trains an average of six clients per day in addition to leading her business, all the while making sure she picks up her daughter and son from school every afternoon, then managing homework, after-school sports and dinner for the family. Time management is of constant study and improvement for Shelby!