I’ve recently been promoted and tasked with developing the next generation of our platform. It’s exciting and at the same time, overwhelming. I have no idea where to begin. 

As an executive leadership coach, I’ve heard some version of this story dozens of times. The task at hand is big. It’s highly visible. It’s the opportunity you’ve been working towards and dreaming of. And now it’s here.  

On one hand, it’s a recognition of the work you’ve done and your value to the company. On the other hand, you’ve just sailed into unfamiliar waters. When you take it all in, it can become overwhelming. And that can leave you filled with anxiety.  

You probably thought promotions were suppose to be filled with celebration and excitement. They are. 

They also come with increased responsibility. 

What do you do? How do you navigate this new role? How do you deliver the same level of success you had in your last role? By setting observable, measurable, achievable goals

Many of my coaching clients have a fuzzy picture of what success looks like for them. Much of our work together is clarifying that picture of success, setting clear goals, and then working on strategies, techniques, and routines to help them deliver results consistently. 

The Eisenhower Matrix 

One of my go-to techniques for setting achievable goals is the Eisenhower Matrix. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower served as a general in the US Army prior to becoming the 34th President of the United States. In both of these leadership roles, Eisenhower had to make difficult decisions on a daily basis. This led him to develop the Eisenhower principle, which focuses on prioritization based on urgency and importance. 

Eisenhower Matrix template for making decisions

Eisenhower Matrix template for prioritizing tasks and decisions

How to use the Eisenhower Matrix 

In its simplest form, the Eisenhower Matrix consists of four quadrants ranging from urgent and important to neither urgent nor important. 

Getting started with the Eisenhower Matrix is pretty straight forward. You can download a free template to get started. 

  1. Create a list of tasks that need to get done. Sticky notes, or 3×5 index cards work great for this. 
  2. Plot them on the matrix according to urgency and importance.
  3. Focus on 2-3 items in the urgent and important box. These take top priority and should be done the same day, or that week.
  4. Items that are important, but not urgent should be scheduled.
  5. Items that are urgent, but less important should be delegated.
  6. Items that are neither urgent, nor important should be ignored for now, or indefinitely. 

Gaining clarity

I’ve been using this technique with a number of clients this year and it’s been transformative in a number of different ways. They’ve found greater clarity in what is their’s to do and when and where to delegate, or simply ignore. 

For my clients who are easily distracted, or struggle to prioritize (those Enneagram 9 types), this has helped them sort through the fog, determine which things are important, and which are just distractions. 

For my clients who get focused on, or get distracted by new, fun, and exciting opportunities, which prevents them from completing one thing before starting another (those Enneagram 7 types), they’ve been able to balance seeing all the new opportunities with choosing a few to complete first. 

And for my clients who can tend to become overwhelmed, or struggle with anxiety (those Enneagram 6s, 1s, and 2s) it’s helped them identify the next right thing to do, and let the others rest. 

Have you used the Eisenhower Matrix? What’s your favorite prioritization technique? Let me know. I’d love to hear your story.  

As always, I’m just an email or phone call away. 



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