“Most major goals are not achieved because we spend time doing second things first.” Robert J McKain
“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” John Maxwell
“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” William James.
Knowing what is important (our priorities) and focusing our time and efforts on these things is a key to greater productivity and effective leadership. Yet these are two of the most difficult things to get people to do. Conventional thinking is linear and assumes that all activities and tasks are equally important. But research reveals that not all work produces the same level of results. In fact, there is a universal imbalance between effort (input) and reward (output. Only a minority of activities produce a great impact while a majority of tasks have only a small impact.
This is referred to as The Pareto Principle (named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population) or The 80/20 Principle. It says that 80% of our results come from 20% of our activities.
Greater productivity can often be achieved by doing less rather than doing more. Effective people redirect their efforts away from tasks that only have a small impact towards those that have the largest impact. By aiming for quality rather quantity you will see your impact increase exponentially. This doesn't mean that we write off everything else but this principle helps us tap into the power of simplicity and of the impact of focus.
This simple concept can be applied to any sphere of life, ranging from business to friends and quality of life.
- Identity the 20% of your activities or tasks that produce 80% of your results.
- Focus (concentrate) your time here.
- As a result, you will decrease the time you spend on less meaningful matters. It’s about maximum result from minimum amount of effort. By dedicating yourself to work harder for a shorter period of time, you’ll find you work improved and your free time expanded.
- Do you believe that this principle is true?
- Do you think Jesus practiced this?
- How does this principle apply to you in your work or vocational role?
- How does this principle apply to the efforts of your team?
- How does this apply to your personal life?
Also, check out Pareto in Practice.