When I came online as an entrepreneur in 2006 I was entering a whole new world. Having worked previously as a classroom teacher and running my own real estate business as a broker and residential appraiser, I was unaware of what was required for me to succeed. When I had the Pareto Principle explained to me during those first few months it was glaringly apparent that I needed to make some shifts and changes in my thinking, attitude, and actions.
Our modern world recognizes being busy as being important. It seems the more running around you do, the more urgent tasks you have, the more respected you are. Think about it – have you ever talked about how busy you are when someone asked you how you were? Probably. We all do it. As a college student I had a job in the luggage and camera section of a department store. The supervisor told me on the first day that I must always appear busy in order to keep the job. She thrust a clipboard into my hands and explained how to walk around the area and make notes when I wasn’t helping a customer. Her advice was to “always keep moving and look like you’re deep in thought about how to make our department perform better in sales.”
But being busy doesn’t mean we are being effective at making the changes we want in our lives. In fact, it may mean the opposite – that we are wasting time on tasks that really aren’t that important. That leaves us drained of energy and wondering what it’s all for.
The Pareto Principle Explained
The Pareto Principle, maybe better known as the 80/20 Rule, is a way to use your time effectively so you get more done and are working on the right activities. In a nutshell, the principle says that approximately 20% of your effort yields 80% of your results. Likewise, the reverse is also true. There are tasks that take 80% effort, yet only yield 20% of your results. The goal, obviously, is to determine which tasks are which.
The easiest and fastest fastest way to achieve your outcomes and reach your potential is to streamline your action items. Some tasks that don’t make the cut (don’t yield 80%) can be ignored as unimportant, while others may still need doing, but not necessarily by you. Those 20% yield tasks that still need to be completed can be outsourced so you are free to complete the creative tasks you are best at.
How to Evaluate a Task for the Pareto Principle
Here is how to see if an item is a 20% or an 80% job:
- Keep a list of outcomes handy so you can review it throughout each day.
- Write down each task that you need to complete for the day.
- Now, go through each item and compare it to your outcomes. Does it align? From past experience, how much effort did the item take? And what was the benefit? Is it worth it?
- If it is, but you don’t need to do it, hand it off to someone else.
- If it’s not, mark a line through it and move on to the next item on the list.
You can use a simple tracking system to measure the results vs. the effort on each task or technique you use. This will help you determine if something is a 20% or 80% undertaking later.
The point of this exercise is to keep firmly in your mind that not all activities yield the same benefits. And that it’s not necessary to implement every idea that you come across. Choose only those that align with your goals and will offer the most reward.
I’m Connie Ragen Green, dancing to the rhythm of a song without a title, collecting as many life experiences as I possibly can in my short time on earth, and sharing my thoughts with you so we will be better connected. Please consider coming along for the ride with me, whether it’s in a shiny white limousine, a noisy helicopter, or a super fast rocket ship, won’t you? My most popular training teaches you how to optimize your content through syndication.