Synergy Personal Development

Time is the most precious asset we have. Yet, it is also greatly underutilized. If you want to get more done with less effort, consider applying the Pareto Principle to your planning and prioritizing.

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 20% of our effort is responsible for 80% of the results. Here are some examples:

  • 20% of customers bring in 80% of the revenue for many companies.
  • Conversely, 80% of the complaints come from 20% of customers.
  • In a recent course I attended on creating a company knowledge base, they stated that 20% of the knowledge articles solve 80% of customer problems.
  • For many workers, 20% of their time is spent doing things that make a dramatic difference. While 80% of their time is used for tasks of little importance- like email, attending meetings, and chatting with colleagues.
  • 80% of a project is often completed in the first 20% of the allotted time.

 

If you have a 9-5 in addition to your side gig, hobby, or pet project; the only way you are going to make real progress in those off-the-clock activities is by utilizing the Pareto Principle. There is no time to waste on tasks that don’t impact progress. Therefore, you must decide to focus on the significant 20% and ignore the frivolous 80%.

Applying the Pareto Principle to Productivity

What activities provide the best return on investment (ROI) for your time? Do some analysis of the tasks associated with your projects. Are the tasks moving you forward? If not, trim the activities that have little impact on your envisioned. 

Doing this may feel uncomfortable at first (because you will sense that you are leaving part of the project undone). However, as Voltaire said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Most people will not realize the difference between your 80% done project and perfection.

When it is good enough, stop. Determine if your work achieves its objectives. If it does, mark the job complete and move on. You have other things that also need your attention.

If it is difficult to assess the areas to put your muscle into, reflect on past projects. What were the vital tasks for completing that work to a high standard? Keep those tasks. Which duties seemed to go on forever without measurable positive results? Identify the jobs that were time wasters, too. Then, leave those activities off of the next project.

Eliminating By Delegating

There are usually tasks and subsections of your projects that you can delegate. Someone may do the task better than you, or the task may seem necessary but trivial. In these cases, it would be better to get someone to do them for you. Delegating allows you to focus on what you are good at and what you can uniquely do while giving the time-consuming, less critical, or busy work to someone else. To optimize your productivity, consider eliminating or delegating these tasks whenever possible.

You might also look for ways to automate repetitive processes, outsource non-core activities, or politely decline commitments that do not align with overarching goals. Concentrating on high-impact tasks will allow you to maximize your productivity and achieve significant results with less effort. 

Continue to analyze your use of time

Productivity is not static. It is a continuous process of refinement and improvement. Include analysis in your projects to reassess how your time and resources have been allocated. Then, make adjustments as needed, ensuring your tasks and time are aligned with the goals and priorities you have set for yourself. That will help you to achieve peak productivity levels over the long run.

Conclusion

Zig Ziglar once asked, “Why don’t we have enough time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over?”

You can avoid repeating and restarting activities by focusing on getting them done right the first time. Using the Pareto Principle to prioritize vital actions that lead to success will not only allow you to get more done in less time but also ensure you focus on the tasks that have the biggest impact on your business, your side gig, relationships, and any other activities that are important to you.

Analyze and evaluate where your efforts make the biggest differences and when they are wasted. Then, consider how to do more of the former while eliminating the latter. That’s Pareto in a nutshell: 20% Effort to get 80% of the results. Thus, taking control of your life, instead of it controlling you.

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