Have you ever felt like there’s too much going on and you just don’t know where to start?
You’re not alone. That’s exactly the place I was at only last week. An overwhelming sense of ‘I need to get on top of this’ because ‘I’m going nowhere, fast’, yet with each passing day the list of things needing to be achieved didn’t seem to get smaller; it was getting BIGGER!
How is this happening?! I’m a smart guy, and none of these jobs are outrageously outside my comfort zone or range of ability. It makes no sense, yet here is it. Day after day I was left with the same tasks to be completed plus the addition of new ones that had come my way. It was a sketch that Monty Python could have charged with becoming ‘too silly‘.
I spoke to a good friend of mine and fellow Coach on the telephone for a cathartic moan about my predicament. The value to be gained from speaking to someone who is emotionally-detached from the situation but also well placed to offer credible guidance cannot be underestimated; my friend often says that “everyone should have a Coach“, and he’s absolutely right.
“Have you heard of the Eisenhower Matrix?” he asked me. Yes, actually, I have. Very much so; I use it to great effect with some of my clients. How had I missed this? The Eisenhower Matrix – popularised by President Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, during his time as a General in the Armed Forces – takes moments to complete yet is so very powerful in helping someone see what their priorities are and so what actions need to be taken to best achieve their desired outcomes.
The Matrix requires you to assign your tasks to one of four quadrants according to their level of importance and urgency. Tasks that are high in importance and urgency should be done first, by you. These become your first priority. Tasks that are neither important or urgent are a drain on your resources and, quite frankly, as waste of time. Bin them off; they bring you no closer to achieving your goals. The remaining two are ether important or urgent but only one of these two, and this provides you with the opportunity to delegate the task to someone else (potentially) or plan for them to be done once your first priority tasks have been completed. The following image illustrates how this Matrix works:
And so within the space of just one working week, I have been able to complete the Priority 1 tasks and start giving attention to my scheduled Priority 2 ones. I have delegated some tasks on to my mother by employing her for just two hours a week – something that she’s actually thrilled about because a) she loves to help and feel useful, and b) it gives her a little more money to spend – something my Dad complains she also enjoys too much!
Today, I know I am more focused and much more accomplished, and it’s all thanks to one very simple tool that was recommended to me by one learned friend with an outsider’s perspective. Everybody does need a Coach, it’s true, but sometimes all that’s needed to make big progress is the right person at the right time with the right suggestion. I hope this message can help you as much as it is helping me and my clients.