Focus is such an important aspect of an increasingly busy modern life but so often overlooked. I firmly believe it’s fundamental to everyone, we all have the same number of hours in the day and why would you not want to maximise what you can potentially get out of them?
Busy and Proud
It seems to have become a badge of honour to be hugely busy with an unmanageable amount of work and to declare it loudly and often. I have to admit to this being my absolute pet hate, there just seems to me to be no need for it.
I work incredibly hard and often have more on my plate than I can hope to deal with in the timescales I’m given. Yet I aim to always be calm and approachable, to always get everything essential done and to always be home at a reasonable hour. It isn’t always easy and I will admit I am not always entirely successful but it is a way to live life in general that is worth the effort for the overall benefits it yields.
The Pareto Principle
Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? There is every chance that you may know it as the 80/20 rule.
It is a very simple yet very important theory that is named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian engineer, sociologist, economist, political scientist, and philosopher. In 1906 he noticed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population and that in his garden 20% of the pea pods contained 80% of the peas .What was most important about Pareto’s finding was that this 80/20 distribution occurs extremely frequently.
You can apply it to economic conditions today – a small percentage of the population controls the biggest percentage of wealth and resources, a small percentage of employees are responsible for a disproportionately large amount of a company’s output and a minority of customers are responsible for a majority of the revenues.
These are not hard rules! Not every scenario will be like this and the ratio won’t be exactly 80/20, but chances are if you look at many key metrics in business and society there is definitely a minority creating a majority.
How does this apply to me?
If you really think about it, can’t you apply this principle to many aspects of your life? I know I can.
By looking at your daily habits you can find plenty of examples where the 80/20 principle applies. You likely spend a large amount of your money on few things, you probably only consistently sit in few of the available places in your home, of all the shoes that you have you probably wear a few of them most of the time and there is a good chance that you spend most of your time with only a few of the people that you actually know.
The important thing to understand is that in your life there are certain activities you do that account for the majority of your happiness and outputs.The actual numbers really don’t matter, the important thing is that paying attention to this principle helps you identify what is working for you and what is not.
The relationship between effort and results are often unbalanced and whilst it would be easy to rail against how unfair that is, surely it is much more productive to accept and work with it to maximise your chances of success?
Understanding the 80-20 Rule is vital as you analyse your productivity and daily strategies. It is an incredible tool for maximising your time or for growing your business. It allows you to identify and focus on the 20% that proves effective, thereby separating out the less effective.
It is worth the initial effort?
For me, applying this principle to my life and work allows me to maximise not only my time but perhaps more importantly – my IMPACT!
I love the fact that people see me as a go to person who will not only deliver the goods but do it with a quality outturn and reliably ahead of schedule. That is because I use the Pareto Principle as standard, so much so that I don’t even think about it anymore. I don’t just consider deadlines when prioritising my time, I consider the impact and my enjoyability in completing the task too!
There will always be things that you have to spend time on that you don’t enjoy but the point is that you can work smarter TODAY to find greater fulfilment. That is what living an 80/20 lifestyle is all about – consistently tapping in to what you do best and making sure you are focussed on doing it more often.
It is a process of constant reassessment – does it work, could it be quicker, could it be better, do I REALLY need to be spending time on this? It seems like an effort but once you get into the routine it just becomes second nature. In every important sphere of your personal and professional life it is important to work out where 20% effort can lead to 80% returns.