In my Thursday Thoughts post two weeks ago, I wrote about ‘draining the swamp’ – or dealing with the big picture, and not getting bogged down in the minutiae.
And that led one reader to point me to a really useful ‘life hack’ page about the 80:20 rule.
The 80:20 rule, as Steve Young points out, is a ‘cutesy’ name given to the Pareto Principle .. which includes the observations that
- 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of its customers
- 80% of a company’s complaints come from 20% of its customers
- 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of the time its staff spend
- 80% of a company’s sales come from 20% of its products and
- 80% of a company’s sales are made by 20% of its sales staff
Today I want to look at an extrapolation of point #3 – that 80% of profits come from 20% of time spent. The same, it appears, hold true for all productivity – that which we spend 20% of our time on actually yield 80% of our output.
Well Duh! 🙂
But much of the ‘unproductive’ stuff still needs to be done – so how do we reduce the time spent on it?
As I said two weeks ago, it’s not as simple as just walking away from unproductive tasks – you have to strategize.
Young’s take on this is interesting … as he puts it, “This argument has an element of truth but it conceals a bigger lie. The lie is that you have no control in adjusting where time gets spent. If e-mail isn’t that important, your goal should be to reduce the time you spend on it. If meetings are not contributing, you should have shorter meetings.”
He goes on to say “Find ways to emphasize the key percentage. Spend more time in those activities. Place them first in your schedule.”
Of course, there’s another observation that he didn’t make, but that I will – if only to remind myself: Social media has its place – but that place is not, of itself, the workplace.
Facebook, Twitter, Linked In – they all have a place in the modern professional’s arsenal … but for YOU, are they part of the 20%, or part of the 80%?