Productivity: How To Decide What To Do (And What Not)?

Productivity [Marcin Rzucidlo / Life Puzzle Coach]

In the previous post, you met the first of my (and now your) “assistants”, Cyril Parkinson, who is responsible for compressing work so that it takes less time, leaving more of it for other tasks.

Today, you will read about the other, who is responsible for prioritizing. He will help you decide what should be done and what should not (at least not now).

His name is Vilfredo Pareto.

The Pareto rule (a.k.a. the 20/80 rule) says that in many areas, relatively small number of items (e.g. 20 percent) corresponds to relatively big chunk of results (e.g. 80 percent).

And, as it does not have to be precisely 20 percent and 80 percent, to make it simple, you can see that:

  • 20 percent of society holds 80 percent of wealth,
  • 20 percent of clients generate 80 percent of sales,
  • and 80 percent of claims are caused by 20 percent of their possible causes.

Transferring the Pareto rule to time management, you can say that 80 percent of the results that you will produce will come from 20 percent of tasks that you will perform.

Now, when you think about it and look at the list of your tasks to do, you will realize that some tasks will take you much faster to your goals, some won’t. Some of them will even take you in a totally different direction 🙂

You could say that doing 20 percent of tasks that you have to do over a day or a week will let you accomplish 80 percent of the total expected results.

Where is the Pareto key?

You need to know which tasks are the “golden twenty.” And you need to focus on their execution, not diverging into doing tasks of less importance (unless it is well justified).

Do you have days when you do not do many of the planned tasks, still, in the evening, you consider it a good day? It means that you focused on executing those 20 percent major tasks.

Or, do you have days when you crossed off a lot of tasks from your list, but you did not feel your time was well used? Probably, you focused on doing those 80 percent minor tasks.

Those feelings illustrate Mr. Pareto at work.

What is your today’s assignment?

First, you need to know what you are after. Your goals. So that Mr. Pareto will have point(s) of reference. If you need some assistance on how to set and accomplish goals, this course will help.

Then, look at your list of tasks to do today or this week. When you think about it, Mr. Pareto will prompt you, which of them belong to the vital few (20 percent of tasks giving 80 percent of results) and which belong to the trivial many (80 percent of tasks that yield only 20 percent of results).

Mark your conclusions on the list with an asterisk or any other sign for your priorities.
And then, focus on doing the key tasks. Pay attention to one thing. Even if you do nothing beyond the 20 percent list of important tasks, you will still achieve (roughly) 80 percent of expected results.

Contrary to the situation, when focusing on doing 80 percent of unimportant tasks (which is easier and often more pleasant), you will achieve only 20 percent of what you should really be after.

Repeat this exercise each time you prioritize your task list.

What are next steps?

Neither Mr. Parkinson nor Mr. Pareto work exclusively for me. You can hire both of them.

It is the synergy of the work of the two that defines the efficiency of planning and performing to the power of three.

With their support, you know what is most important out of all the things you need to do and you do it maximizing use of your time.

And, as you definitely know, time is the resource that we must take care of in a special way.

Time is the resource that we must take care of in a special way. Click To Tweet

Have a productive day 🙂

– Marcin

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