How to Prioritize Your Coaching Business
The Eisenhower matrix is a powerful tool for organizing your professional and personal responsibilities. Read on to learn how prioritizing tasks can bring you more time and freedom for what matters most.
Urgency as Enemy: How to Prioritize Your Coaching Business
As a military general, statesman, and President, Dwight Eisenhower was in the position of making many decisions throughout his career. These decisions affected the lives of millions of people, so he had to first decide which decisions were most important and therefore needed to be prioritized. He created the Eisenhower matrix: a four-quadrant table that grouped all tasks into different categories. These quadrants are: (1) not urgent and not important, (2) urgent and not important, (3) urgent and important, and (4) not urgent and important.
Ambitious people have no problem working hard to reach their goals, but it’s easy to miss the distinction between urgent things and important things. That’s what this matrix is all about. What you will find is that most urgent tasks are not that important in the grand scheme of things, whereas important tasks are usually not that urgent. We tend to focus on the most time-sensitive chores first, which keeps us in a reactionary mode, so urgent tasks are almost always standing in the way of the important things getting done.
Perhaps we aren’t presidents or generals, but this approach to task priority can be very helpful to coaches and business owners. It’s very easy for menial chores to become so time-consuming that the long-term projects and decisions never seem to get addressed. The “loudest” tasks end up filling all your time, and very important tasks and projects that are critical to long-term success and happiness continually get postponed to next week when you “have more time.”
Not Urgent, Not Important
Let’s apply this matrix to the business of coaching. If a task falls into the first quadrant (not urgent, not important) then the goal is to get rid of it. Keep these things to a minimum because they don’t contribute much to progress or success. These can be obvious things like browsing social media, watching Netflix, and the like, but this category also includes things like long commutes to a gym or slow internet service speeds. It may seem like saving money on internet service or continuing to use an outdated computer are frugal choices, but their impact on productiveness for an online coach is staggering. It’s worth the upgrade.
There are also more benign and subtle things in this category, like email and social media notifications interrupting your workflow.
Urgent, Not Important
Next, we have urgent but not important things. These need to get done in a timely fashion, but they are usually menial chores. The general rule with this category is to delegate these tasks at a cheaper wage than it costs you to do them personally. Grocery shopping, mowing your lawn, doing laundry, cleaning your house, and cleaning your gym (if you own one) are all great examples of chores that you can hire out to create a significant amount of extra time for yourself: Use a grocery delivery service, hire a landscaping or cleaning service. Better yet, pay your children to do these tasks. Automation is a great choice for this category as well if that’s possible.
The third quadrant is urgent and important tasks. Everyone knows these tasks need attention, but there are two ways to improve how they are handled. First, if you tend to procrastinate, don’t let the first quadrant delay your actions (not urgent, not important). Schedule a time dedicated to these tasks and stick to the schedule. Second, increase your ability to focus on tasks by removing distractions from your workspace (phone notifications, other people’s activities, etc.). The Pomodoro technique can be very helpful here. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gkZ97j5BEQ] The goal with this category is to complete these tasks as efficiently as possible, so you can get to working on your business, instead of bogged down with working in your business.
Could someone else do these important tasks better than you? That’s a great way to handle these tasks as well. Expect that wages won’t be cheap because these people will have expert-level skill sets. It’s worth the price for this category because it increases your business’s value and performance.
Not Urgent, Important
The last quadrant is not urgent but important things. Building trust with clients and marketing your coaching business are obvious examples, but this category also includes spending time with your family and community, taking care of yourself personally, reading books and reflecting on the path you’re taking professionally, and planning possible expansions of your coaching business.
One of the great benefits of online coaching is that client feedback gets moved into this quadrant. When coaching in person, you have a rigid schedule that you must stick to for coaching; after all, your clients are at the gym, waiting for you. Coaching online allows you to work some flexibility into this schedule (a 24-hour turnaround, for example) that can help you focus on other aspects of the business as needed.
In order to have the time and space to work on this fourth quadrant, the other three quadrants must be handled as efficiently as possible. By compressing those responsibilities, you can gain the freedom to focus on what matters most to you in life.