One simple chart can help you figure out how you should really be investing your time and energy at work


amy jen su chart
It might be time to
eliminate a few tasks.

Harvard
Business Review


Becoming a manager should, theoretically, give you more freedom
at work. Instead, what often seems to happen is that everyone
starts demanding a piece of you until you feel like you’ve got no
say over how you spend your days.

Amy Jen Su, co-founder and managing partner of Paravis Partners,
has a creative solution to this common dilemma, which she
explained in a video published by the
Harvard Business Review

As Su says in the
video
, you can use a four-quadrant chart to represent — and
prioritize — all your responsibilities at work.

The X-axis represents your contributions: How much of an impact
are you making on the organization when you do this task? The
Y-axis represents your passion: How much do you care about this
particular task?

Plot your responsibilities based on your answers to those two
questions. Where each one falls indicates how you should
prioritize it during your day.

  • Quadrant 1 is the upper-right-hand box: tasks
    that you’re passionate about and that make a
    meaningful difference to the company. These should be your
    priorities.
  • Quadrant 2 is the bottom-right-hand box: tasks
    that you’re either not excited about or are still learning how
    to do that also add significant value to the company. This is
    the “tolerate” zone. As Su points out,
    it’s unrealistic to think you’ll always love everything about
    your job — there are some parts you’ll simply have to sit with.
  • Quadrant 3 is the upper-left-hand box: tasks
    that you love doing but that don’t currently make a clear
    contribution to the organization. Here’s where you need to
    elevate, which could mean you need to better
    explain how this activity will benefit your team in the long
    run. Or, you could step back and consider what specifically you
    love about these tasks and see if you can fulfill that passion
    with other, more valuable tasks.
  • Quadrant 4 is the bottom-left-hand box: the
    quotidian tasks that you don’t derive much satisfaction from
    and that barely push the organization forward. This is the
    chop wood” area. Consider delegating some of
    these tasks, hiring someone new to get these tasks off your
    plate, or completely eliminating these tasks.

Su’s chart is equally useful for leaders and their employees — in
fact, she wrote an
article for HBR
in January 2017 in which she framed this
chart as a way for individuals to manage their priorities.

This analysis could be a natural follow-up to keeping a
Good
Time Journal
,” a time-tracking strategy recommended by
Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans in their book
Designing
Your Life
.” Using the Good Time Journal, you keep a
log of all your daily activities and how much they energize
you; then, using the passion/contribution graph, you get
proactive and retool your daily schedule as much as possible in
line with your findings.

Maybe, for example, you spend the first hour or two of every day
working on your priorities (what one productivity expert calls a
power
hour
“). That way, even if the rest of the day gets away from
you, you’ll have accomplished something meaningful for yourself
and your employer.

Ultimately, drafting a passion/contribution chart is a nice
reminder that you have more control over how you spend your time
and energy than you might think.

Watch the full HBR video here»

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