I want to share with you a system I have found that helps me focus on what matters for moving my online coaching business forward as well as reduce the feelings of anxiety and overwhelm that can creep up all too often.

As my days became busier with our growing groups and I had a constantly growing list of ideas on how to move forward, I was finding that with so many things adding up that needed to get done, it felt like I couldn’t do anything right. If I was coaching people, that meant I was neglecting the marketing work that needed to get done. If I was reading about coaching, I was taking time away from actual coaching.

Not only was this distracting in the moment, but it made it difficult to know when it was okay to consider the work day done. And it was difficult to know if I was spreading my focus on things in a way that they deserved. 9 pm would roll around, and I wasn’t sure if it was “okay” to stop and if I really using my time wisely or if I was just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

I thought of conversations in the Motivate Forum about using minimum and maximum targets for clients as a way to help them find an achievable idea of success and asked myself how I could apply this to my business rather than to fitness.

I then divided my most important tasks into 3 categories. What are the 3 things I need to do in some form every day to make progress? I came up with the following 3 categories:

  1. Coaching – interacting with my online clients and doing the things behind the scenes to grow the communities.
  2. Marketing – doing the work required to get new people in.
  3. Learning – consuming content that will make me either a better coach or better at marketing our coaching programs.

The challenge was that I realized I couldn’t realistically spread my focus on all categories evenly. So I came up with the idea of doing a tiered system of priorities. Or a daily undulating system of prioritization, if you will. ;-)

Priority #1 (the red zone) – 60 minutes minimum
Priority #2 (the blue zone) - 40 minutes minimum
Priority #3 (the green zone) - 20 minutes minimum

After deciding on the weekly pattern, I turned it into a daily checklist to keep on my work desk.


The exact day of the week dictates which zone the given category resides in and each zone can be chipped away at in any smaller interval as desired. Our groups are the quietest on Fridays and Saturdays, so those are the only days where coaching isn’t in the red zone. From there, the remaining blocks are divided evenly between marketing and learning – each one has one day in the red zone, and three days in the blue and green zones.

With this approach, if I just had 2 hours in a given day to work in and on my business, I knew I was spending it on the 3 categories that are the most important. And I would have guidance for when it’s okay to move onto the next thing so I can give each area the focus that it deserves, not to mention decrease the stress of feeling like I always need to be “on”.

You might be wondering what I do about things that don’t fit in my three priorities. Ideally, I outsource them. And if it’s not something I can or want to outsource, I pick away at them when I am not in peak productivity mode.

If you’re feeling like you’re getting pulled in a million different directions in your coaching business, give this approach a try. You just need to ask yourself three questions:

  1. “What are my top three priorities for my time investment into my business?”
  2. “What minimum time targets can I allocate to each zone?”
  3. “How would day of the week impact what can or should be a higher level of priority?

If you give it a try, please let me know what you find. The better we can be at budgeting our time and mental energy, the more value we can deliver to our clients (and the more clients we can deliver value to).


Sean Flanagan is an Oakland, CA based fitness and nutrition coach who co-runs the Habit Project℠, an online community and coaching program for people who want to be strong, confident, and healthy WITHOUT fads or deprivation. Sean can be found at http://www.SeanFlanaganFitness.com