You have so much going on that it can be quite overwhelming at times. To make it worse, a lot of what you spend your time doing doesn't add to your bottom line or help you accomplish your goals. With your attention pulled in so many directions it can be hard to keep focused on what truly matters. But how do you break this cycle and cut through the waste so you can focus on the truly important?
Vilefredo Pareto just might hold the key to unlocking the magic code to increasing productivity and regaining your sanity.
Never heard of Vilefredo Pareto? You're not alone.
Vilefredo Pareto was an economist of little note who lived and died Switzerland almost 100 years ago. Not much of his work or life garners our attention. However, at some point in his 75 years of life Pareto stumbled upon a mathematical truth that could truly transform your life.
The Pareto Principle first popped up on my radar while reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss a little over a year ago. At it's most simple The Pareto Principle simply states that 80% of outputs come from 20% of inputs. This has been found to be true across all manner of disciplines including time management, customers, and economics.
A few alternative ways to look at the principle include:
• 20% of your customers generate 80% of your income
• 20% of your customers create 80% of you problems
• 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort and time
It drives home the concept of prioritization. What you focus on matters immensely. If you are focusing all of your efforts on the wrong things you won't get the results your working so hard to achieve. You will run yourself ragged with nothing to show. Thankfully, you can learn and apply the 80/20 principle to your life and alter the outcomes you are working so hard to reach.
Pareto and the 80/20 principle will be of most help to you if you leverage them to assess your current efforts. Here are three ways you can apply it:
1. Take stock of current efforts. Write down everything you are doing and outcomes it is producing. Be unattached from the outcomes here, simply list out your activity and how it has impacted your work, life, etc.
2. Reprioritize what's producing. Perhaps you find that phone calls are driving your business and resulting huge returns for you, despite the fact that you make very few. In that case, pick up the phone and start making more calls. The key here is to determine your areas of strength and multiply them.
3. Eliminate waste. Consider cutting those things that are wasting your time and energy. It might be something you think would be generating results but its just sucking up resources. Cut it ruthlessly. Find your inefficiencies and eliminate them. This will free you up to focus on what's actually generating for you.
These three steps show where to double down and where to eliminate. Apply this principle to your life, get a hold of the few things that truly matter, and see how drastically it transforms things for you.
A few weeks back I wrote a series of questions to help you evaluate the items on your "to do" list that pairs well with the Pareto Principle that will be helpful to you. Here is an expert from that post:
"The solution to your crazy schedule and consequently a crazy task list isn't just another list but the process of evaluating exactly what you are doing each day. A "stop doing" list helps you take a cold hard look at what you are doing and literally stop doing those things that are not the most fruitful for you and your team."
For more on the Pareto Principle and other awesome tips that are sure to shatter your world, in a good way, check out The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss.