Boost Productivity and Avoid Burnout Using John Briggs’ 3.3 Rule

A photo of John Briggs, author of "The 3.3 Rule."

Chris Cooper (00:03):
John Briggs, welcome back to “Run a Profitable Gym,” man.

John Briggs (00:05):
Thanks for having me.

Chris Cooper (00:06):
Always a pleasure to have you on the show. And today, we’re talking about a different kind of number. We’re talking about productivity. John’s new book is called “The 3.3 Rule.” John, congrats on the new book, man.

John Briggs (00:18):
Thanks. Yeah, and as you know, having written more books than I have, ooh, glad it’s written and being published. It’s a lot of work.

Chris Cooper (00:25):
Yours are three times as good as mine, so even though I’ve written three times as many, we’re even.

John Briggs (00:31):
Okay, fair. It’s very generous of you. Thanks, Coop.

Chris Cooper (00:35):
Yeah, man. Well, let’s start with this. So, this isn’t like a strictly accounting book, right? What inspired you to write the 3.3 rule and then we’ll get into what it means.

John Briggs (00:44):
Yeah, so if people are familiar, I’ve obviously written the book “Profit First for Microgyms.” I’m a big proponent of Profit First, especially in the gym space. Yeah, we want to keep gym owners in business. And so that book is a lot about cash flow and tax strategies. This one is definitely more of a passion project for me. I’ve been in the accounting industry my whole career. I mean, I have a master’s degree in tax. And one thing I learned early in my career, which set me on the path to create the firm that I did, was the way accounting firms mistreat their team members, all for the sake of profitability. It’s just, “How can I squeeze every last ounce of energy out of my team knowing that I’m going to push them out the door, and they’re going to want to find a better solution to life?”

John Briggs (01:32):
So, I actually started this book just as a simple manifesto. I had this idea like, “Man, if accounting companies actually cared about their team members, they wouldn’t do stuff like that.” And I got into some science and some of the ways that I ran my company, and then I started talking to lawyers and engineers and then like literally name the industry, and you have a similar potential issue where companies just expect you to just work and work and work without realizing that you’re going to end up pushing people—well, really the better way to say it: They’re going to—you’re going to snuff out their passion or doing whatever it is that they’re doing. And so, the idea of the book is how do we—the book was really written for people who are burned out, nearly burned out, or on a path that will inevitably lead to burnout—and so how do we avoid that? Because burnout is the killer of, in my opinion, the economy. So that’s kind of where we started with the book.

Chris Cooper (02:34):
That’s kind of a big topic. And obviously, those of us who work with accountants a lot, we see this in accounting right now. Like the only way you can hire an accountant in Canada is basically to buy out their firm, right? Is this part of the reason there are no accountants out there?

John Briggs (02:49):
It is absolutely. Statistically, 60% of accountants will leave the industry within three to five years. Yet, enrollment in accounting programs is down drastically. Because nowadays with social media, things like Glassdoor, and, and Reddit, people can—actual accountants can express their experience, and a lot of people are saying, like, “Whoa, why would I want to do that? Seems like there might be less painful ways to get to where I want to go in my career.” And so, yeah, that this is definitely one of the reasons. And one of the goals of my book is: Let’s get some information in the accounting industry so that people can change the way they run their firms, and we can keep accountants in the industry longer, but it’s not just accountants. So, I don’t want any of your audience to be like, “Oh, great, we’re going to talk about a book for accountants.” I promise it’s applicable to everybody.

Chris Cooper (03:49):
It’s super applicable to gym owners. And so, once John gets into the basic premise, you’re going to recognize here as a gym owner, like, how the principles are going to apply. I mean, yes, accountants get burned out, but if you’ve ever coached three CrossFit classes in a row, you know exactly what I’m talking about and what John’s talking about here. So, John, can you explain the core concept of the 3.3 Rule and how it’s different from traditional workday structure?

John Briggs (04:15):
Yeah, let me start with the back history, if that’s okay, Coop. So, a lot of people maybe forgot—back in the 1800s, the world was in the industrial age, and they worked 80 to 100 hours a week. And it’s the way life was. They didn’t have anything to compare it to. We have these machines going, and humans were needed to maintain and keep the machines going; therefore, there was constant, like, someone had to be there. Well, if you’re working 80 to 100 hours a week and you do the math, there’s not a lot of time—once you add in sleep—to do anything else. So, come along to the early 1900s when a well-known guy named Henry Ford is trying to sell motorized carriages, right? And, you know who doesn’t want motorized carriages? People who don’t have time to do anything other than go to work and sleep.

John Briggs (05:10):
So he made a decision and was kind of villainized at the time, but he said, “You know what? I’m going to give my team, my employees, two weekend days”—because at the time, they only had one day off—“and I’m going to stop their workday at eight hours”—because at that point there was no cutoff. And you know what happened? People now weren’t burned out by the end of the now-Friday workweek, and they could go somewhere, but they can’t walk because the places they wanted to go were a little bit further away. So, car sales increased and fast forward a hundred years with all the advancements we’ve had as a country, as a world, we’re still working on the same 40-hour workweek that was created effectively because Henry Ford was a genius and wanted to sell more cars. So, there’s a lot of science behind what I’m going to share, but the core message of the 3.3 Rule relates to “let’s use the science and stop looking at it as a Monday through Friday, eight-hour day workweek.” So, the rule states: The most efficient workday is to work up to three hours, followed by a 30% recovery period. So, that’s where you get the three: relates to up to three hours. The 0.3 is the 30% recovery period. And we can obviously go into detail because without the context of the book, some people are like, “I still don’t get it.”

Chris Cooper (06:36):
We’ll get really specific here, but this is obvious to a lot of entrepreneurs that when they started down the track, they quickly realized, like, “Owning a gym is not a nine to five; it’s more of a five to nine.” And if you don’t start taking a break midday, you quickly find that you could be back to that 80-hour workweek. That said, most of us were raised in this school system of like, “You can expect a nine to five career for 40 years and then you get the gold watch.” And so, some people are surprised when you hire them to coach, and they’re working 6 a.m. until 9, and then they have their entire day, and they’re back at 5 p.m. until 8. And it causes some friction in their head. Like, “Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?” In reality though, this is kind of like the optimal day, right John? Is that where we’re headed?

John Briggs (07:22):
Yeah. Let’s optimize our day instead of putting ourselves in a confinement of when it should be. And especially, I’m glad you brought that up with gym owners. You know, you have the morning section before the rest of the world starts their day because they want to get in their exercise. And then you for sure have a busy time at the end of people’s workday. But then gym owners find themselves doing stuff in the middle of the day. I mean, they’re already up; they’re productive people, right? And so easily without boundaries around maybe how they should be structuring things, we have seen lots of gym owners say like, “Yeah, I’m actually working 80 hours because I just don’t stop. Once I wake up, I just keep going.” You know, “On a scale of one to 10, how happy are you?” The number wasn’t too high.

Chris Cooper (08:05):
Do we have to use an integer? Can it be like—it could be minus one, I guess, but that’s the thing, right? It’s because we’ve been framed to, or we’ve been taught, like: You get to work, and you stay at work until you are done with work. We perceive that somehow, we’re getting ripped off even though we’ve got like six hours in the middle of the day that’s open. But let’s get back to the basic premise here. So, you said that we should be working up to three hours and then taking a 30% break. Let’s get into the science and the math a little bit.

John Briggs (08:35):
Okay. I won’t get into all of it that’s in the book because it’s a lot. And you know, we don’t have a lot of—all the time in the world. The two main ones I think that relate: There’s a study done in the U.K. that people have been referencing ever since. Now that is: The average worker is productive for two hours and 53 minutes a day. So, you’re paying for eight hours, but they’re actually saying, “I’m only giving my employer two hours and 53 minutes.” And that’ll make sense. It makes sense to me after seeing all the science. The other one—and this is the foundational element of the 3.3 Rule—there’s a guy from the University of Illinois Champaign; his name is Alejandro Lleras. And he did this study, and at the time, he was interested in this idea of attention span.

John Briggs (09:30):
People were coming out with studies saying like, “How long is someone’s attention span? How long does it last?” And he had the contrarian idea that there’s no such thing as attention span because our attention is always on something; it just might not be what we should be spending—like having our attention on. Right? Like, if I’m daydreaming and someone says, “Well you’re not paying attention.” I am paying attention—to my daydream. Right. So, it’s like, “Okay, so how—let me see how—how would I confirm that there’s no such thing as attention span?” And that kind of went into this idea. He came across a study that talked about physical stimulus. If our body has a constant stimulus physically, it will neutralize that. Consider the clothes that we’re wearing right now. We put them on this morning, and because the constant pressure of the fabric has been on our skin, our brain stopped registering that sensation.

John Briggs (10:30):
But as we’re talking about it, you probably are maybe wiggling a little bit more, and you can actually feel the fabric physically provide some sort of stimulus. He’s like, “Ah, I wonder if the same thing exists with the way our attention works.” So, he did some studies, and sure enough concluded that if we have maintained focus on something that’s a constant stimulus, our brain will eventually neutralize it. And so, we just kind of combined that element with the two hours and 53 minutes of productivity, and that’s where we come up with, “Let’s push ourselves to be focused for up to three hours.” And I say up to three hours because we are all a little bit different. Like, for example, Mike Michalowicz is a good friend of mine. I’m sure your audience is familiar with many of his books.

John Briggs (11:21):
He just had a new book, “All In.” If you guys haven’t heard about it, check out a copy. It’s based on hiring. It’s really great. But he is like, “Yeah, when I’m in my writing season for a book,” he’s like, “I’m about 53, 57 minutes and then I need a 15-minute break.” And it’s so funny that as I was working with him and using him as a mentor for this book, he’s like, “It’s so funny. As I’m reading your book, John, I’m like, this totally supports the way I’m naturally approaching the way I do my own work.” But other people—like you get me and say, “Hey, John, can you do some forecasting for me?” Put an Excel file in front of me and your profit and loss statement. Dude, I can go three hours. I love that stuff. Right? Chris is—

Chris Cooper (12:09):
No, I’m shaking my head. Because I’m like, “Oh, it’s on Instagram”—three minutes in. You know, I don’t even have Instagram. I’m just like, “Let me get a new app.”

John Briggs (12:19):
So, and also for me, writing is harder. I don’t consider myself a professional author. And so, an hour and a half block, man, that’s about the limit I could handle, sitting down and writing and really having good focus time. So, even the different responsibilities that we have throughout the day may require us to change. So, that’s why it’s flexible: up to three hours. And then whatever length of time that was that you did focus, take a 30% recovery of that time. So, if I worked an hour, it’s about a 20-minute break. If I worked two hours, it’s about a 40-minute break. If I do a full three hours, I’m going to take a full hour off.

Chris Cooper (13:00):
So, I’m thinking through this in coaching in my gym. And I know from thinking about it in the past, like, let’s say that I have to coach three classes in a row. My first class I’m going to be about 80% because I’m just not like warmed up and in flow yet. My second class is going to be my best, and my third class I’m going to be down to about 70%. So, attention doesn’t just start off strong, stay strong and then drop off a cliff. Does it? There’s kind of this like wax-and-wane curve to it.

John Briggs (13:29):
Yeah. The Princeton Neurological, I think, Neurological Institute—that was such a hard word to say in the audiobook. They did a study that shows our brain has a natural cycle of focus, distractibility, focus, distractibility. So, absolutely. It’s not just, “I’m 100% focused,” but we do know from science that after three hours, even if you’re at 70%, you’re going to see a steep decline. Like, some studies even showed people’s focus dropped off after like 20 minutes—like a steep decline. And so, part of it too is I wanted it to be more of a framework so people can tweak it and make it work within how they know they need to operate. And as they start practicing it, they’ll realize there’s a natural flow for them as far as like, “Oh, this task, yeah, an hour, I’m good. After that, I don’t want to have anything to do with it.”

John Briggs (14:22):
Like, you might have some coaches who are great, who are 100%; they can come in 100% in one class, but by the second class, it’s like 50%. To kind of like—you’re going to want to pay attention to the different skill sets and behaviors of your coaches because not all of them are created equal. And I don’t think we need to force someone. It’s like, look, if you coach three classes in a row and the last two classes are terrible, I’d rather you coach a class, take an hour off, coach another class, take an hour. Like whatever that flow needs to be so that our members are getting the best experience.

Chris Cooper (14:57):
That makes a lot of sense, John. And, and I’m just curious—this doesn’t apply specifically to gyms—but do you find that that attention window is affected depending on where you are? So, for example, I think my attention window is probably a little bit longer when I’m here at the Two-Brain workshop than when I’m working from home.

John Briggs (15:15):
One hundred percent. Our environment has so much to do with how we focus. In fact, we talk about, in the book, I have a whole section on remote work that kind of relates to that. Where some people, if you read the article, say, “Remote work is for the devil,” and the others say, “Remote work is the next thing close to godliness”—like complete opposite paradigms. And each of them have their own studies to support it, and they’re both right. It’s because we’re all different. I have team members who have kids at home and maybe a spouse who doesn’t necessarily respect boundaries. And so, when they’re trying to work from home, it’s a disaster. I have others who have a designated spot; their family honors that; they’re really productive; others don’t have any distractions at home. Like when I’m at home, I don’t want to be 100% focused, right? Like even the COVID months when the world was shut down, I worked from home for like three and a half weeks, and I was like, “I can’t handle this. I am not as focused here.” So just driving into the office by myself, I was way more productive here without distractions. And so yeah, 100% percent the environment matters.

Chris Cooper (16:30):
Alright man, I’m going to be sending a card to your wife after the show. But let’s get back to the gym world here. There are definitely days in my past, and I know my coaches are going through this right now where they’ve booked four or five clients in a row. And I don’t want to discourage them from doing that. They’re trying to be available when the clients are available. Like how can they structure their day so that they’re doing like the 3.3 framework?

John Briggs (16:55):
Yeah, if I had four clients in a row, then I would make sure my meetings are not an hour long. Okay? Right. So again, if I am going to work back-to-back-to-back, I still want to make sure that that back-to-back effort is within a three-hour block. Now I think, also, some of your coaches need to recognize: Are they more introverted or more extroverted? Because both can be very successful gym owners, but an introvert likely isn’t going to be able to handle back-to-back client meetings. Whether that’s a No Sweat Intro or whether that’s an actual paying client—just because they’re introverted. Like it takes a lot more out of introverts. I know this because I’m an introvert. They just have to be aware of who they are. And I think there’s that fear. The FOMO comes in.

John Briggs (17:42):
It’s like—I have, for example, a No Sweat Intro, right? Like, “Oh man, they’re available this day, but I’m not. Let me make it work.” You’re on the phone with them; you’re keeping the momentum going. Having it scheduled out the next day, or two days later, or a different time that works for both you and them: I don’t think is going to kill your opportunity to get a new client. I think sometimes it’s okay to honor what works for you because if you don’t, you’re potentially subconsciously saying to the prospects, “I’m going to fit you in knowing that I’m going to give you a less valuable experience because I’m going to be kind of burned out.” I’m going to have less energy going into this meeting where it’s like really, like let’s just be fair to ourselves and the clients. Say, “I want to give you 100%, and this is the day, based on what you just told me, that our schedules match up, and we can do that.”

Chris Cooper (18:38):
I really think, to support you on that, John, there are two big mistakes that I see gym owners making with NSIs. And the first is: They block it in their normal workout time. So, a person walks in the door, of course they’re 10 minutes early, your shirt’s off, you’re sweating all over the place, the Metallica Black Album is just going crazy in the background, and the client is already playing defense before you even sit down with them. The second one is you’re like, “Okay, I’ve got this block; I’ve got two classes and then a break and then another class. I’m going to put them in that break.” And so, of course the client shows up 10 minutes early, it’s loud, there’s 30 strangers running around doing stuff that they don’t understand. You might actually be better to give yourself a 30-minute window, get yourself back into a calmer state, then meet with the client anyway.

Chris Cooper (19:30):
Right? I do see the value of having a break before an NSI. I just did a semi-private session in my gym where I’m a client, and I was talking about this book with the coach Jessica and the other person in my semi-private group today, Lauren. And Lauren’s also an entrepreneur. And I was sharing some of the lessons, but what was interesting was I realized that a semi-private session for a personal trainer is actually a little bit easier on the introvert because Jess would, “How’s it going?” You know, her stuff; she’s the spark plug and then she can back off for five minutes while the other clients are talking. So, you know, maybe that helps a little bit too with breaks, but yeah.

John Briggs (20:09):
Yeah. Good idea.

Chris Cooper (20:10):
Yeah, it’s just a couple of different ideas that I had since reading the book, and that’s the beautiful thing about good books with a simple concept like yours and Michalowicz’s is they’re so easy to understand because you’ve taken a complex topic and made it very simple; I can immediately find application. And that’s what differentiates this book from a lot of other business books about time efficiency and junk like that. Right. John, I want to get into, like, how does technology help? So you mentioned the role of technology and digital tools in optimizing the 3.3 Rule. Like what are some specific tools or technology that you recommend to help gyms specifically adopt this?

John Briggs (20:54):
You know, I wish I had time to create an app.

Chris Cooper (20:57):

John Briggs (20:58):
I thought about that. Like how cool would—even like a little cube box or something where I could have it on one thing, I hit the timer, and then when I’m done, I flip it over, and it automatically calculates the 30% time. There’s probably not one specific thing. Calendaring is really important when it comes to technology and keeping the 3.3 Rule because most people can’t keep their entire workday in their head, right? And so, by using a calendar app, even if it’s simple as Google Calendar, which I use, I can clearly see when I have enough work where it’s like, “Oh yeah, that’s more than three hours. Let me—I need to potentially rearrange that.” Block out an actual break time. And then, like—so visualizing your calendar I think is super important to honor the 3.3 Rule. And then part of the technology stuff too is like there’s a 3.3 Rule and the book goes into the 3.3 System, which is about: Your team’s going to be more productive just with the simplicity of adopting, “Let them work up to three hours; let them take breaks where they’re not doing any work whatsoever.”

John Briggs (21:57):
Like give them permission; give yourself permission to do that. They’re already going to increase productivity that way. But then if you want to go even further—which we want everyone to do, all of our readers to do, for sure: How do I make that focus time even more productive? And so that’s where technology comes into play, where for gym owners that could be actually utilizing the gym software they’re currently paying for, but never looking at all the things that are open, right? A lot of times, “I need this software. I have this problem with keeping track of my members and attendance.” “Cool. Here’s the software that can help.” “Great.” “Oh, by the way, the software actually does a couple other things that could help you. Like maybe let’s take some time to figure out how that can help you be more productive.” It’s the whole sharpening saw idea, right, by Stephen Covey. Let’s take some time to do that. But I don’t have a specific technological, like, app or solution for everyone. I think it’s just, “Let’s just utilize what’s out there to make us more productive.”

Chris Cooper (23:03):
I think the best app I ever saw for this was on a “Harry Potter” movie, and they had like this hourglass and the sand would run faster if the conversation was really boring.

John Briggs (23:11):
Just go to Target and get that.

Chris Cooper (23:13):
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, I had a question from my coach because this is the topic of conversation in our semi-private session this morning. And she said, “Okay, well I’m going to coach three hours in a row, and then I’m going to jump in the noon group, and we got this really hard workout. That will be my break.” And I said, “I’m not sure that actually counts as a break,” but we wanted to get your opinion.

John Briggs (23:33):
Yeah. As the gym owner, you are always on when you’re in your gym, and there are members present. Yes? So even if you’re trying to, “I want to go work out,” which is a great break thing in general, it may not be the best thing for a gym owner to do if they’re doing it in one of their classes. Now, if the gym owner has the ability to really shut off and just work out, then great, go for it. But my guess is in between their reps, they’re looking at the other members, and they’re making notes like, “Hey, Bob seems like he’s not hinging the right way,” or “His full-depth squat isn’t down there. I wonder if I could meet with him later, and let’s get him some more mobility,” or “This guy seems extra winded; I wonder if maybe we should meet about his nutrition.” Like, I personally don’t think most gym owners are going to be able to shut that off just because they want to serve so much; they can’t help themselves. So, I would recommend doing your workouts probably by yourself still. Now, again, if you’re going to work out with your gym and their classes, that’s great. It’s just not—in my opinion—that’s not a 30% recovery period. That would be considered work.

Chris Cooper (24:51):
That wouldn’t work for me either. I’m always watching like, “How are they doing that?” You know, kind of auditing as we go. It wouldn’t work for me either. John, I’d like to zoom out a little bit here because one of the biggest problems at my gym—and we were locked down for almost two years—but I think a lot of gym owners are hitting this wall right now: How does the 3.3 Rule address things like burnout and work-life imbalance on the bigger picture?

John Briggs (25:18):
Yeah, so good. And I’m so glad you called it work-life imbalance. It’s like we totally know when we’re out of balance, when something’s imbalanced. But the idea of work-life balance—the opposite that people think—it’s a fallacy; it doesn’t exist. Work affects life. Life affects work. So, how does it affect that? If you think about burnout and now you think about this idea that—okay, well I guess let’s put ourselves in that place: What leads to burnout? Working a lot of hours in a row. Usually at some point after working so long, whether that’s days, hours, weeks, years with some gym owners falling on the sword, right? I know you and I preach the same thing: You guys have got to be profitable. Some gym owners don’t pay attention because they feel—you have a natural dopamine and serotonin that happens due to the nature of your job and saving human beings from dying.

John Briggs (26:17):
You have a natural chemical reaction there, so it’s easy to overlook sometimes that you do need profitability to stay open. But what happens is they’ll go that long, and all the endorphins are kicking in; it’s awesome, and they’re saving lives. And then at one point, at some point, they’re going to have that moment—I don’t want to call it an entrepreneurial seizure, like, what’s-his-bucket (Michael Gerber) does, but it’s some sort of seizure, and it’s, “Holy crap, I have nothing to show”—maybe it’s a profitability seizure or lack of—“I have nothing to show for all this hard work I’ve been doing for X amount of time.” That will put up a wall and usually burn out; that’s the moment of burnout, and then closing the doors or making a massive life change happens pretty closely after because you will not be able to get rid of that idea that you’re killing yourself with nothing to show for it.

John Briggs (27:09):
Because human nature is: We want to receive value back for the effort we’re putting into something. It’s just natural. We’re not going to fight it. So, if that’s how burnout usually happens, what do we do to avoid that? We throw in the 3.3 Rule where I work, I give myself a purposeful break, and it’s an actual break. So, my brain resets so that when I come back, I’m just as energized. Because also what happens is as I’m giving myself purposeful breaks, I am allowing my mind to take an opportunity to realize maybe there are some things I need to change about the profitability of what I’m doing. Instead of just go, go, go, go, go, go, go; putting out fires; hoping everything works out. Look, the hope and pray method is really great. I am a Christian; it works for that. It’s not a good business plan. Okay. And so, let’s have rules in place. And that’s what the 3.3 Rule does. It gives us that opportunity to always be rejuvenated and focused. It’s just a great cycle.

Chris Cooper (28:13):
Does it work on a larger scale? I mean, what you just said reminds me of the original Tim Ferriss book where he was telling people that they should have many retirements throughout life. So, for example, is it ever a good idea to work for three months and then take a month off? Or is it—

John Briggs (28:29):
One hundred percent. Yeah. Like, for example, this book has been a lot of effort, and my goal is to take a lot of weeks off when this is over, right? So yeah, it’s minuscule on—like you can focus on the 3.3 Rule on a daily basis, but then you can also look at it as like, “You know what? I have worked three months straight in a row. What’s the harm of taking a week off?” You don’t even have to go anywhere. Like, some of the best time off I have is just I took the time off. Everyone thinks I’m on vacation, but I’m really just hanging out at my house enjoying quiet and, again, refreshing. We’re coming back from the breaks. Right? A lot of people take time off during the holiday break. And I think people can realize when you do that, a lot of good thoughts happen. Thoughts that wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t give your time that space to not focus on anything.

Chris Cooper (29:28):
I think it’s also true in non—I don’t want to say non-thinking jobs—but in more hands-on jobs. I think it’s still true. You know, there’s three builders working on our house right now, and one guy is like, “I want to get my eight hours in and leave.” He works through his lunch; he works through breaks, but he gets far less done than the other two guys who sit down and have a coffee at 10. They have a half an hour for lunch. They sit down and have a coffee at three. And it’s—I never put it together until now that these guys who take breaks are actually getting more stuff done, and they seem to love their job a lot more too.

John Briggs (30:07):
One hundred percent. Think about it: You set up for the day, and you’re in your head like, “I’m going to go eight hours straight.” Well, most people are like, “Oh that sounds terrible.” So, they kind of pitter patter around—because why? “Well, I’m going to put in eight hours.” Versus the other guy who is going to take breaks. And even with the 3.3 Rule, it’ll make it even more defined where you are intentional about taking breaks. So now all of a sudden, it’s like, “I’m going to take a break, and I know that break is going to be sufficient for me. I’m going to go all in right now. I don’t have to pitter patter around because I can be completely focused because I know I’ve been given permission to just do nothing during this other time period. So, there’s no guilt, and I can completely recover.” And especially with physical labor stuff, like you wouldn’t ask—like think of your members, your coaches here. Your audience could be like, “Yeah, we would never ask a member to work out eight hours in a row, even if it’s a low stimulus thing.” Like that’s effectively what a blue-collar job is. Right? You’re at a low, most times, a kind of low stimulus, but physically active for eight straight hours. That sounds terrible.

Chris Cooper (31:17):
Especially in the cold. So, John, like what are some challenges that businesses have? Let’s say the CEO or the owner is all in on this. “Love it; makes total sense. I’m going to implement it.” What are some of the challenges that they have when it is time to actually execute inside their business?

John Briggs (31:35):
The first one is explaining it to your team because a lot of times they don’t—first of all, they’re not going to believe you. And so they might be thinking, “Okay, I’m going to,” like in our firm’s case, “I’m going to do a tax return, and then for my break, I’m going to read emails,” right? And that could be anything. “I’m going to do X, and then I’m going to do emails for my recovery period. Because I don’t want the owner to be mad at me because I don’t believe him.” Emails are part of work. That’s not an appropriate recovery period activity. So, that’s one of the things. The second thing is to let them know, “You’re still clocked in, right? I’m still going to pay you for eight hours, but with this rule, you’re actually only getting six hours of work-focus time. But I believe with the science”—obviously if they’re bought in, they know that they’re going to get more out of their team now, giving them permission to have two hours off basically during the day.

John Briggs (32:30):
So, like if I had an hourly employee, I would include their 30% recovery period as part of what I’m paying them for because I know that it’s just more efficient. Those are the two biggest ones. Some smaller ones: Studies show working through lunch. So, a lot of people are going to want to work through lunch to try to be effective. Like the 3.3 Rule makes it work out very nicely where you can completely check out mentally from work while you do your lunch. Tork, I think, was the name of the company that did a study that showed their team members who just ate lunch during their lunch break were like 70% more effective than their team members who tried to work through lunch.

Chris Cooper (33:13):
It makes a lot of sense, man. And, you know, in Canada, what happened when government agencies started coming back, they started adopting this practice that they called “hoteling.” Now this is despite the Harvard Business Review saying that hoteling is the least productive method of work in the history of humankind. But these agencies, they would come back, and they would be like, “Okay, everybody’s here for eight hours, and your desk changes every day. First come, first serve, and you take breaks whenever you want, but you’ve got to put in your eight hours.” Of course, productivity went way down, and people started doing their work at home because they couldn’t get anything done in the office. This is like the counterpoint to that, which is you stay focused for up to three hours and then you take up to 30% of that time off. And I would bet more and more studies are going to come out just showing how much better this actually is. John, fantastic book. It is like my favorite book of 2023, and it’s just coming up. When is it actually available for people to buy in 2024?

John Briggs (34:14):
So, you can pre-order now, depending on when this release is, but January 15th is the official availability date.

Chris Cooper (34:20):
That is going to be, yeah, so the week this comes out, it’ll be available to you. We’ll post a link right in the show notes. I said it as my favorite book of 2023 because John slid me a PDF version a few weeks ago. Guys, I am so fired up about this book. John, it’s not a surprise that you wrote this, but it’s a surprise that an accountant wrote this, if that makes sense. Thank you for thinking outside the box, man. This is so good.

John Briggs (34:47):
Yeah. Thanks Chris. I appreciate it. I really hope that we can get this in the hands of small business owners because I think whether it’s the Canadian economy or the U.S. economy, it’s on the back of small business owners is the way our economies function, and the Fortune 100s get all the attention, but the reality is, if we lost the Fortune 100 companies, we would be fine economically because we have enough small businesses. If we lost all the small businesses, we wouldn’t be. And the biggest threat to small businesses going out of business isn’t necessarily profitability—it’s a consequence of—but it’s burnout. Obviously if I’m not profitable, that kind of leads to me feeling burnout, but I just want to keep business owners in business. I want to keep them fired up and passionate about why they got into business. And I think this rule really will help them accomplish that.

Chris Cooper (35:40):
Yeah. And that’s why it’s especially important right now. I think the next 12 months are going to see more entrepreneurs just succumb to burnout, close up shop, and nobody wins when that happens. So John, man, thank you for the 3.3 Rule, and we’ll have a link in the show notes for everybody to go out and get it.

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