If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed, with a to-do list that is so long you don’t have a chance of ever getting it done, then keep reading.
In this short article I’m going to share with you the single most powerful time distinction to help you create more value by radically upgrading the time you are already working.
It helped Dr. Padda, a successful surgeon in St. Louis, increase his productivity by 100 percent (including increasing his medical practice’s operating profit by over $450,000 per year.)
It also helped Caleb Preston, co-owner of a financial services company, increase his firm’s productivity by 121 percent.
And it can do the same for you and your business.
Now I understand that you’re likely skeptical. You’re overworked, stressed out, and pulled in twenty directions all at once.
Most of all you’re frustrated. You have so many lower value tasks that clutter up your day and make it difficult to focus on those fewer, better things that you know would create immediate and massive results in your business–if–if only you could find the time to focus on them.
Most business owners try to solve this challenge by working longer hours. They work later into the night to get their to do list done… they come in to the office over the weekend and play catch up… They answer calls and respond to emails from home when they’re with their family so they don’t fall behind.
But remember, you don’t get paid for time–you get paid for value. And because of this, working harder is generally not the answer. Instead you need the hours you do work to be invested in higher order, higher value activities.
Here is a powerful tool called the Time Value Matrix to help you do just this, which is an actual tool my team and I created for our business coaching clients to help them quickly and accurately review their activities and break them down into four distinct categories: A Time, B Time, C Time, and D Time.
You’ve likely heard of “Pareto’s Principle” which states that 80 percent of your efforts produce 20 percent of your results. We’ll call this “D” time. It is the 80 percent mass that creates very little value for your company. It includes most of the email that sucks up your day, many of the meetings you sit in on, and a good number of the interruptions and fires you deal with each day.
The flip side of Pareto’s Principle is that 20 percent of what you do (which we’ll call “C” time) creates 80 percent of your results. This “C” time is 16 times more valuable than D time (it’s 4x less input creating 4x more output). C time for you might include the delegation meeting you had earlier this morning with your assistant. Or it could include the billable work you do for your clients. For a surgeon like Dr. Padda it might include actual surgical time. Clearly C time is more valuable than D time, but equally clear it’s not the most valuable things you could do for your business.
If you take that 20 percent of your actions that generate 80 percent of your results and apply Pareto’s Principle a second time, then 20 percent of that 20 percent produces 80 percent of 80 percent of your results. That means that 4 percent of your effort (the 20 percent of 20 percent) generates 64 percent of your results. We call this 4 percent sweet spot “B” time. You B activities could include implementing a marketing tactic that generates a lot of new business for your company. Or it could include making an important hire. Or perhaps it includes creating a new internal system that increases your capacity or lowers your costs. The key thing is that B activities are qualitatively more valuable for your company than your C and D activities.
And if you can bear with me for another math moment, let’s apply Pareto’s Principle one more time…
This means that 1 percent (20 percent of 20 percent of 20 percent) generates 50 percent of your results. Imagine, one percent of your highest value work produces 50 percent of all your results. We call this magical 1 percent “A” time. It might include the joint venture meeting you had with your largest referral partner. Or the final round of interviews in your selection of your CFO. Or perhaps the strategy meeting you held offsite with your leadership team to plan out the coming quarter or year.
Often at first it’s difficult to distinguish if something is an A or B level activity, but what should be intuitively clear is that A and B level activities are magnitudes more valuable than C or D activities.
Did you know that most people not only have no idea what activities fall into the above four categories, but they don’t even know they exist? How in the world can you create more A and B time if you don’t know what activities constitute A and B time for you?
When you really get this distinction and shift your focus from “putting in hours” to upgrading the type of work you do (more A and B time, and less D time), the results are amazing.
Let me share an example with you.
Imagine you are an attorney who charges $450 an hour. What would your D time activities be? Things like fixing a computer glitch, or making copies, or sorting out mail, or any of the things you do that you cannot bill a client for. What should you do with these activities? Delay them, delegate them, or dump them. You simply cannot afford to do them yourself.
What would your “C time” activities be? Anything that is billable time for you. This could include working on a legal brief, or reviewing a contract, or updating a client.
Understand this: C time can provide you with a great income, but you will always have to work exceptionally hard to earn it. This is the trap that catches most high income professionals. They seek to increase their earnings by cranking out more hours. MISTAKE! More hours will only take you so far.
The answer lies in A and B time.
B time for this attorney might include building relationships with other professionals who refer over business. Or putting systems in place in their law firm so that their staff can get better results without needing so much of our fictional attorney’s time. It might also include creating an accounts receivable system that increases the collection on all the firm’s billings by 10 percent. You get the idea.
What would A time look like? This could be speaking at a large conference where this attorney is able to generate new client relationships for his or her firm that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars of billable services. Or it could be writing a book that can be used to generate new business for the firm.
See the difference yet?
D time is by definition something that you should get off your plate–either delegating it or simply deleting it altogether.
C time is time that you do your work more effectively.
A and B time, however, are when you step out of the “doing-ness” of the work and do something that improves your capacity to create results, or significantly pushes back your limiting factor (e.g. generating new clients, improving a critical system, etc.)
In fact, by focusing on upgrading your use of time instead of focusing on increasing your hours worked, you can often double or triple your income, while at the same time lowering your working hours.
This is what happened for Mark Huha, owner of a successful service business in San Diego, California.
Mark applied this Time Value Matrix concept to his personal use of time, and over a 36 month period he doubled his profitability (which is the ultimate measure of your business productivity) while at the same time reducing his working hours in half (from 70 hours a week down to 35 or fewer hours a week.)
In essence Mark quadrupled his productivity (one half the hours producing twice the results).
Again the first step to upgrading your use of time is to identify–in writing–what you do that truly creates value (and what you do that doesn’t.)
This means creating your own “Time Value Matrix” of your own A, B, C, and D activities.
Once you have your written list of your most valuable activities, you can build on that base to structure your week to block out 4-8 hours each week to invest in your A and B level activities.
In fact, I’m about to teach a new webinar that will show you exactly how to structure your week so that you consistently get 4-8 hours of upgraded A and B time each week. When you compound this over a quarter the impact on your business can be life-altering.
If you’d like to join me on this special webinar training, please just click here to learn the details and to register. (It’s free.)
Good luck growing your business.