What’s your operating capacity?

One of the things I enjoy about personal training is making a connection with the client. We often do this in between sets of their workout as we chat. You get to know the person better — likes, dislikes, routine, family life, etc.

That’s how a personal training client and I started talking about operating capacity.

“I only operate at 40% capacity,” he told me. “That way if something comes up, I have some room. Forty percent is probably a little low, but I like having the margin.”

I didn’t think much about what he said at the time. I wanted to make sure we didn’t chat too long and kept our training session beneficial for him.

But two days later I was swamped at work. I had an appointment after appointment, unread emails, and text messages, and I was behind on finishing some projects. That’s when it hit me. I’m operating at 100% capacity. I have no breathing room, no margin for error. It was just go, go, go, and when something didn’t work out, then it was a domino effect on the next task on my list.

Some people will say that’s just part of life. But what happens when we are always operating at 100% capacity? We tend to be more stressed or on edge. We constantly feel overwhelmed. Even worse, we start to neglect the important things in our life.

For some people, it’s less time with their families. For others, it’s less time exercising. Believe me, I know. You would think working at a gym it would be easy to find time to work out every day. But when you’re operating at 100% capacity, that’s not possible.

So how do you create margin in your life, so that you’re not always operating at 100% capacity? The best way I have found is to manage your schedule. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Create space between your appointments or commitments instead of doing them back-to-back. Set boundaries that you can uphold like not taking a meeting during your lunch break.

You will see many benefits in your life if you do so. You will be happier, you will enjoy life more, you will be able to help others instead of always helping yourself, you feel less stressed and anxious. You will have more time for you. More time to spend with your family. More time to exercise or do things you want to do.