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The Pareto Principle: How To Apply the 80/20 Rule To Boost Productivity

The Pareto Principle came into this world as an observation: That 80% of the land in 1906 Italy was was owned by 20% of the population.

Since then it has been seen in many other circumstances — 80% of the world’s money is controlled by 20% of the population; 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients; and the one we’ll be looking at here, 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of your applied time.

Another way of looking at this would be to say, “80% of output, comes from 20% of input.”

This 80/20 rule has seen itself being applied to many things over the years, now it’s here to help us identify our most productive actions and ideas.

Whether you agree or not, you must admit that if this is true, we have a much higher ceiling for us to maximize what we can achieve.

So why does this happen? And how can we better utilize ourselves?

Many of us find ourselves mindlessly checking and replying to emails, and working on menial tasks that don’t transfer over to the big picture in equal amounts. This is where we lose out.

20% of our productivity comes from when we’re happy, motivated, and working on the big projects that give us a sense of purpose.

No surprise then that in order to be more happy and more productive, we need to offload these time-sucking trivial tasks that slow us down. This is not an easy proposition, while these tasks might not be what gets us up in the morning, they can often be vital tasks that we can’t afford to stop. In comes Automation, Delegation, and Outsourcing:


1. Start Automating.

If you do anything that can be automated, take that option. There’s a lot of free or cheap apps and devices out there that can reduce your workload, and considering that most other options either cost you money or time, this is the best route to start with.

You might consider using something like MailChimp for email marketing; Hootsuite or Buffer for scheduling and distributing your social media posts;Workflow or IFTTT for creating “recipes,” (When one thing happens, something else happens automatically).

When used right, these digital tools can relieve you of mundane tasks and allow you to get back to what’s important.


2. Start Delegating.

Not all tasks can be automated, some need a living person to take care of them, in which case you might consider delegating them. This option might cost a little more than automation, but you can knock out some tasks far more efficiently with someone that has more time available.

If you have your own employees this can offer them a larger sense of purpose within the company, by giving them tasks that you’d otherwise be doing yourself. If you don’t have employees or they have their hands full already, you might consider hiring a virtual assistant, someone that can work remotely on those administrative tasks. Not the right options for you? Perhaps you have a family, instead of working late nights you could let them get involved, they might be happy just spending that time with you.


3. Start Outsourcing.

Sometimes your tasks can’t be done by a computer, nor can they be managed by just anybody with a pair of hands. If something needs to be done by someone with the right skills and expertise, you have the option to outsource it.

There are plenty of skilled freelancers out there in most domains, try looking for someone on ODesk, Elance, or Freelancer. Additionally, you will find plenty of companies that specialize in certain tasks. Your best bet is to do a Google search in the area you’re looking for, and the pick the best option for your requirements.

Put The 80/20 Rule Into Action

Think about why you do the work you do, what do you imagine when you think of the perfect job? Chances are you’re doing some of it, but there’s also all this baggage that came along too.

Now imagine a day where you start work motivated and eager to jump right in. How great would it be if you no longer needed to worry about sending out all those emails in the morning? Perhaps somebody else can take care of your routine emails, answer your phone and take messages to relay to you, and do low-value tasks like updating your social networks.

When you put the 80/20 rule into action, you can become much more free to get more productive work out of your day and then you can more actively focus on the activities that produce the most rewarding and enjoyable results.

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