Back in 1895, an Italian economist by the name of Vilfredo Pareto noticed that 80 percent of the land was owned by only 20 percent of the entire population. As a result, he deduced that all economic activity could be attributed to this principle; hence the name — the Pareto Principle.
Translated into simple English, this just means that “80 percent of your sales will come from just 20 percent of your customers,” “80 percent of your entire output will come from just 20 percent of your allocated time,” and so on; you get the idea.
At any rate, this is all well and fascinating but how do you apply this theory in practice? Just keep on reading and find out!
Evaluating and Prioritizing Tasks
If the theory has any truth in it, then it means that 80 percent of your results come from just 20 percent of your efforts. Now, a neat way you can exploit this mathematical equation is by finding which tasks impact your work the most and focusing solely on them; in other words — prioritizing.
For instance, create a list of ten tasks you have to complete during the day and sort them according to their level of importance. According to this theory, the top two tasks on this list should be responsible for 80 percent of your daily workload.
Once you identify what these are, you can label them as urgent and allocate all of your resources on completing them as soon as possible. That way you don’t waste time on tasks that provide almost zero results, saving both your time and energy in the process.
Assessing Your Business Goals
At the end of the day, you need to complete all of your tasks, not just the twenty percent (unfortunately). This brings us to our second point — assessing your goals.
As with the previous method, it is based on evaluating your most important tasks (the twenty percent ones) and labelling them accordingly; from urgent to low priority. After you’ve compiled a detailed list of all the non-essential tasks, you need to ask yourself: who is qualified for carrying them out?
If the answer is “only you,” I’m afraid I have some bad news for you… However, if these tasks require minimum expertise — or you are simply bad at them — delegate, delegate, delegate; if possible.
Don’t waste time on specific tasks someone else can do better and focus your efforts on completing tasks that essentially put bread on your table.
Leverage the Use of Technology
One of the best ways of utilizing the Pareto Principle for time management is via the use of technology. In other words, use technology to automate all those non-essential business processes — all 80 percent of them — and focus exclusively on the stuff that matters.
For instance, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software allows companies to automate most of their back-office functions; including accounting, IT, and HR services. As an example, smart NetSuite implementation will save you not only time but money as well by making your business more efficient and cost-effective. Namely, installing and maintaining hundreds of computer systems, applications, and various integrations will be a thing of the past. Consequently, reducing operating costs and the time you’d otherwise need to set aside for time-consuming IT tasks and chores.
In addition, a great majority of software can be integrated with one another to work in unison; so you could potentially have all of your software working together from a single dashboard, making life that much easier (and time plentiful).
Determine Your Prime Time
What works well for some, may be an entirely different story for others. For example, the specific time of day you choose to work on your tasks. Some people work best early in the morning when they are fully refreshed and rested; some are night owls and their creativity spikes during night hours — to each their own. Find out what works best for you and determine your prime time.
Now, during this timeslot, try tackling those tasks that fall into the twenty percent category. That way you’ll deal with the most important tasks when you’re at your best, completing them in the most optimal way possible. This is especially useful if you’re a freelancer or a remote worker.
Take Some Much-Needed Time Off
If the theory is correct, you need to work smarter and not harder. Meaning, you need to take a breather every now and then. Burning yourself out will produce little (to no) results. Instead of stretching your tasks throughout the whole day, do your chores in short, yet effective, bursts. That way you can have the rest of the day free to do other things.
Conversely, you can take some time off first, go out for a stroll, relax a bit — engage in productive procrastination — and then set yourself to work when you feel fulfilled and motivated; instead of feeling guilty for using up 80 percent of your day doing nothing. Seeing how all the top companies, such as Google, Microsoft, etc., have their own gyms and leisure centres for their employees, there’s definitely some truth to this theory; they’re obviously onto something!
Outsource All Non-Core Business Processes
Delegating not an option? Using software is out of the question? Then try outsourcing!
There’s no logical reason why you should be wasting time on menial tasks that someone else can do; even if you pay them for it! In the long run, it will cost you less money to outsource those 80 percent than to do them yourself and do them poorly at that. Not to mention that it’s a complete waste of time.
As previously mentioned, you want to focus on doing what you do best and what matters most for your bottom line. By outsourcing, you do just that. It allows you to focus on your core business functions so you can develop and grow your business further, scaling it up as you go.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to common sense. Don’t waste time on less important tasks and do the most important tasks first!