What’s the 80/20 rule? The 80/20 rule, or the Pareto Rule, is simple: in many cases, about 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In other words, 20% of the work you do accounts for 80% of the outcomes of your work. With this in mind, strategizing about how best to maximize your time becomes much, much easier once you know where to begin. According to Forbes, 20% of sales reps generate 80% of total sales, 20% of customers account for 80% of the total profits. So, how can you apply this to your own production?
Write out your to-do list or your goals
According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, creating a list of everything on your to-do list help the more important tasks float up to the surface. Once you have your list, analyze which tasks provide you with the most results and circle those tasks. Then, review the rest of the tasks and determine which ones you can remove or push back. According to the Personal Excellence blog, one way to do this is to separate your tasks into four categories: low effort, low reward; high effort, low reward; high effort, high reward; low effort, high reward. While there are times when some categories of tasks will take precedence over others, begin with the tasks that require low effort and have a high reward.
This will give you a clearer picture of what you need to accomplish for the day, the week, or even the month. You can use this same process with your goals.
Do this frequently!
You can’t just do this process once. Make this a part of your daily, weekly, and monthly routine. Begin every month with your larger, monthly goals, and repeat the process by week and day.
Maximize your time by starting with your hardest task
Typically speaking, the most challenging tasks you face in a day are often the most valuable. It can feel natural to ease into the day with simpler tasks, but tackling your biggest responsibility head-on, first thing in the morning, will lead to an overall more productive day. Not only will this help you achieve more in the day-to-day, but it will create a positive habit and routine in other areas of your life.
While implementing the 80/20 rule is mostly beneficial, be careful to avoid thinking that the other 80% of the tasks on your plate are unimportant. That 80% still needs to get done; however, it’s just not at the top of your to-do list. Perhaps these are the tasks you could accomplish when your energy is lower to better maximize your time.
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