The Pareto Principle
Have you ever spent an enormous amount of time on a task that ended up not proving useful or needed? Has this happened to you time and time again?
- Recognize that there are core things you need to do from day to day, and there are likely an even greater number of tasks you are doing that are unnecessary.
- Identify the things that really matter to you; temporal, emotional and physical. Focus on core activities that directly impact your success.
- To improve in your effectiveness you must be willing to part ways with employees, tasks, clients or deliverables that are not a good use of your time.
- Strive regularly to re-evaluate and optimize your usage of time, your most precious resource.
The Full Scoop
The Pareto Principle is the observation that 80% of any result is attributable to 20% of the effort. This principle has been observed across a variety of fields and industries, and is applicable in your personal life.
Consider your health, are there a few key things you could be doing that would have an enormous impact of your wellness? Do you really need a personal trainer, gym membership, or new diet; perhaps simply watching what you eat, a little daily exercise and adequate sleep would help you meet 80% of your goal.
During a normal work week, what were the key items you completed that accomplished 80% of your workload? Did you need to respond to everyone and every email, text message and phone call, or did only a few really matter? Did you spend time responding to clients that only contribute to 20% of your bottom line, at the expense of those that contribute to the 80%
It is rare that a company is able to deviate from the core product line or niche that made it successful. We have seen companies spend an enormous amount of energy into launching new verticals and campaigns that did not bear real fruit. This isn’t to say innovation is bad, quite the opposite, innovation is key to success – but innovation outside of your areas of core competency can bring risks and costs that distract you from what you really do best.
Early in my career I would respond to any request of me by an employer or client. If my boss so much as suggested an idea, I’d jump on it immediately – producing a proof of concept or completing it with urgency. While at times this proved to pay off, often the idea was a passing request without a great deal of importance. There often wasn’t a real need to stay up late, work the weekend, or make other personal sacrifices to achieve my personal goals. Often it had the opposite effect, teaching others to not value my time as a precious commodity. Instead of adding value it was devaluing my other efforts and contributions.
Learn to recognize what is really making you successful, as an individual and working professional. What are the key things each day, that if you do them, will help you to maintain the 80% that really matters. Exploit your strengths and maximize your opportunities. Over time you will learn to avoid going down rabbit holes that waste your time and the time of others; and will be amazed with the amount you are able to accomplish in a short amount of time.