Utilizing the 80/20 Principle To Boost Your Personal Productivity
To succeed in utilizing your time in the most productive way comes down to one fundamental choice: Will you be reactive or proactive when choosing how to use your time.
The question is not whether you will be busy, but with what. The question is also not whether your calendar will be full, but who will fill your calendar.
I think it is clear that we all want to be proactive in how we chose to invest our time. Sometimes it is difficult though to find the right starting point from which to make good decisions.
One powerful principle to understand is the Pareto Principle, also called the 80/20 principle. In essence, the principle states that for many events roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers
80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers
80% of your sales come from 20% of your products
80% of your sales are made by 20% of your sales staff
In my earlier years, I failed to understand the power of this principle, now I am a true believer. Now I understand that 80% of the results I am producing come from 20% of the things that I am doing.
Just by understanding this one principle, you will be able to look differently at how you spend your time. What if you could identify which 20% of your activities bring you 80% of your results?
Right now you are spending 80% of your time on trivial activities. What you need to do is identify the 20% of your activities that are producing 80% of your results. Then start to focus only on these activities, and either discontinue or delegate all other activities.
In the beginning, applying this principle may sound a little abstract, but once you start to identify what specific activities bring you the biggest results it will become easy for you to see how to better use your time.
Here are some practical ways you can apply this principle to your life right now:
By spending a little bit of time planning out your next day you can have huge improvements in what you are able to accomplish.
Make a list of all the projects that you are currently working on. Identify the 20% of projects that will give you the greatest results and focus on completing these. I personally don't recommend having more than 3 active projects that you are working on. Don’t spend time on any other projects. Once you are complete with your top 20% of projects repeat this step.
Which relationships contribute most to your life or business? Make sure you take good care of these relationships and give them the attention they deserve. Maybe it is time to cut back on the time that you spend on relationships that don’t really add value to your life?
What are the two or three distractions that cause you to waste much of your time? Eliminate those right now!
I would love to hear a few comments about how you apply the 80/20 principle in your life, and what benefits you have experienced by doing so!