One of the most difficult challenges I deal with is prioritizing time. I'll bet you have this same problem.
Of course there are days when prioritizing time is easy because my clients have problems that take all my attention. There are days when prioritizing time is easy because I have critical deadlines. And there are days when prioritizing time is not a concern because there's so much on my plate it's all I can do to get from one thing to the next.
But it occurred to me that maybe I should be in better control of prioritizing time instead of letting external forces decide what I do. Perhaps then I'd be more productive, be more successful, and even enjoy my work a little more.
That's when my buddy Josh Mayer showed me this little tool for prioritizing time. It has been a life changer. And a life saver.
Like so many powerful solutions, this little chart is simple but not simplistic, easy but not effortless. What it will show you is a powerful way for prioritizing time and planning your work and play.
Start with the lower right hand quadrant. The letter “B” stands for “Bad.” Use this area to fill in all the things you are bad at. Remember you don't have to show this to anyone so be as self-reflective and honest as you can.
Next move one quadrant to the left. The letter “A” here stands for “Adequate.” It's your invitation to list the different things that you're so-so at doing. Not good, not bad, just adequate.
When you're done with the “Adequate” square, ladder up to “G.” As you've probably figured out, “G” stands for “Good.” By this point I'll bet you already know what to do here. List the things you do well and you're good at accomplishing.
Finally, shift one quadrant to the right where you'll find “UQ.” “UQ” stands for “Uniquely Qualified.” Here is where you list the things that you do that set you apart, the things you do that bring real, profound value. These are the things you do that matter.
When it comes to prioritizing time, filling out the chart is the easy part. It's what you do next that matters most.
Once you've established your B, A, G, and UQs, you need to plan your life to spend as much time as possible in the UQ quadrant. Of course getting rid of the Bs is easy – those are things you're not good at and you don't enjoy doing anyway. Delegate them away – you can simply hire someone to do those tasks for you. And before you tell me that hiring a personal assistant is a luxury you can't afford remember: If you don't hire an assistant you are an assistant.
Getting rid of the As is not hard either. Sure you can do them adequately, but why bother?
What you'll discover is that it's the Gs that make prioritizing time so difficult. That's because it's hard to delegate the things you're good at. After all, we like doing the things we do well. They're fun, we get a nice jolt of dopamine from them, and people often compliment us a job well done. But if we're merely good at them it means someone else can do them as well or maybe even better than us. And if we allow someone else to do those things then we can concentrate on what really matters.
By spending as much time as possible in the UQ arena we can focus our energy on what really matters. And we can accomplish things – for ourselves, our businesses, our clients, our friends and our families – that add real value. Not to mention we can enjoy the satisfaction of maximizing our potential.
As I said earlier, even though the chart is easy, prioritizing time with this exercise is not. But if you make a serious effort to minimize the time you spend on B, A, and G, and maximize your time working on the UQs, you will see a real difference in your output, your accomplishments, and your satisfaction.