Getting it all done when you’re the only one there can be frightening. How can you improve your productivity? Using Pareto’s simple 80/20 rule can cut your work week in half
You wanted freedom. You wanted to do something you loved. And…you wanted to get paid for it. So you went into business for yourself.
Now you have this huge list of stuff that needs to be accomplished to get your business off the ground. How are you going to do it?
Is one of the reasons you went into business for yourself is you were tired of 50 to 60+ hour weeks working for someone else? Are you now worried all you’ve done is buy yourself another job?
The ugly truth is unless you take control, you’ll never get it all done.
What is The 80/20 Rule?
The 80/20 rule was originally proposed by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1896. It simply states 20% of the causes generate 80% of the effects.
I’m sure you’ve heard this in one form or another. For instance, “80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers.”
What this means to you is 20% of your effort will generate 80% of your results. Now you have to figure out which tasks constitute the 20%
Pretty straightforward, right?
But Wait…There’s More
It turns out there’s one additional thing you need to know. It’s called the law of diminishing returns. Here’s what it means.
If 20% of your actions deliver 80% of your results, you are getting a 4 to 1 return on your effort.
If you increase your effort (more tasks) to 23% you should drive your result to 92%, right?Chances are it won’t.
The law of diminishing returns states for every added effort, you will receive an ever decreasing result.
So, increasing your effort by 3% might only yield a 5% increase in results. Another 3% on top of that might yield another 3%. Keep on that path and you will get to the point where no matter what you add in effort, you won’t get any better results. And…you may never get to 100%
A Radical New Concept
Here’s a radical new concept for you. Choose how many hours a week you want to work.
Yup, you heard me. Instead of attacking the entire pile of stuff you think you have to do and whacking away until it’s done, choose how many hours a week you want to work.
Here’s your new goal. Look at your huge pile of stuff to be done. Remember 20% of the stuff in that pile will generate 80% of results. Look at each task in the pile and ask if it is part of the 20%. Estimate how long it will take to complete it. Put it on the list for this week.
Keep this up, until your weekly hours are filled.
Then resort the tasks in order of importance and put them on your calendar. Be aware, you don’t want more than 2 mission critical items on the calendar in any one day.
Now focus on each task in order. Work on it and it alone until it is done or your progress is halted by some outside event.
What Happens to All the Rest?
Everything else in your gigantic to do pile can either be Delayed, Delegated, or Dumped.
This will be the subject of the next blog in the series.
You will be amazed at how productive you become. You have to be brutal in your application of the sorting process. Knowing you have only so much time to complete mission critical items forces you to work on those items most important to your success. Plus you will have the added benefit of creating more free time to do stuff you enjoy.
PS. This concept and many others are more fully discussed in Tim Ferris’ wonderful book “The 4 Hour Work Week” I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is running a small business. You can order a copy of this book by clicking on the link below. (Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate)