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You’ll Never Complain Of Not Having Enough Time If You Can Apply This Rule

You’ll Never Complain Of Not Having Enough Time If You Can Apply This Rule

Answer this riddle: What is more precious than gold, cannot be bought, earned, or saved and you never have enough of it?

The answer of course is time!

Time is elusive, fleeting and precious. We are only allotted so much during our lifetime and learning to manage it better, is the best way to maximize the time we do have. One of the top ways to make the most of your time is to utilize the 80/20 rule.

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The 80/20 Rule: The Law of the Vital Few

The 80/20 rule or the Pareto Principle (named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto) operates on the premise, that in general, 80 percent of an outcome is derived from just 20 percent of the input or effort. This rule is most often referenced to and utilized in business settings. Consider the following examples:

  • 80% of problems can be attributed to 20% of causes
  • 80% of a company’s profits comes from 20% of its customers
  • 80% of a company’s complaints come from 20% of its customers

However, the fundamental truth that underlies this principle has been proven to be true in just about every context conceivable:

  • 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of the population
  • 80% of victories in sports come from 20% of the teams
  • 80% of all wealth is owned by 20% of the people

The truth is so much of our time and energy is wasted doing things that produce little to no real or valuable output. Imagine what you could accomplish or where you could be if you were able to cut your overall lack of productivity in half?

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Maximize your time using the 80/20 Rule

Now that we clearly understand the rule of 80/20, we can all agree that we do waste a lot of time. In a world filled with mundane, arduous and tedious tasks, how do we actually apply this rule in our everyday lives?

Great question! Below are a few simple tips to help you begin to better maximize your time and ensure your efforts yield higher and more meaningful results:

1. Learn to prioritize

This is by far the most vital component in proper time management and optimizing the 80/20 principle in your everyday life. In order to do this, a conscience and intentional shift in thinking must occur. Instead of mindlessly performing routine tasks, learn how to shorten or cut the ones that yield very little outcome from your routine. We are all aware that certain things must be done that are time-consuming and do not add value to our daily lives. Things like commuting, cooking, cleaning, ironing clothes, grocery shopping (you get the picture), must be done, but ultimately have very little to do with our goals, passions or overall quality of life. Yet, so much of our time is spent on these types of activities.

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2. Learning to better schedule

Learning to better schedule, shorten or the better yet, outsource these things whenever possible is key to establishing the 80/20 ratio in your daily life. Hire someone to cut the grass, take public transportation or Uber to work and spend that time responding to emails or for planning your schedule.

3. Set and modify your goals frequently

Clearly defined goals that are always in the forefront of your mind helps you stay focused and helps you with prioritization. Map out a path to achieving your goals and adjust frequently. Life happens and plans are derailed. When you find yourself drifting off course, regroup and recalculate as quickly as possible. Try to spend as little time as possible on things that do not directly drive you toward your goals.

4. Establish the correct effort-reward balance

Establish the correct effort-reward balance for all activities: This is done by first evaluating the reward that comes from the task and then determining the amount of effort required. For example, if the task is making your bed every morning, for most of us, the reward for a well-made bed is very minimal, therefore the effort (time and energy) spent making the bed should also be minimal (or skipped altogether). I know some of you (like me) are perfectionists and like to do everything to the best of your ability, which is very admirable, but not practical or effective. Learn to give the best of  yourself to the things that really matter and the other things get the best of what you have left.

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Downsize and simplify- 80/20 in Action

Putting this principle into action is actually fairly simple. Start by asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • What are the 20% of your possessions you get the most value out of?
  • What do you spend 20% of your time doing that gives you 80% of your happiness?
  • Who are the 20% of people you’re close to who make you the happiest?
  • What are the 20% of the clothes you wear 80% of the time?
  • What are the 20% of foods you eat 80% of the time?

Chances are you answered all of these questions fairly easily. You’ve just never considered them before. Now that you’ve answered them, you are ready to and can easily focus on becoming more efficient in your life. For instance, the 80% of people you spend time with who only add 20% of the pleasure in your life – spend less time with them. The 80% of the stuff that you use 20% of the time – throw it out or sell it. The 80% of the clothes you only wear 20% of the time – get rid of them

Obviously, the 80/20 rule is not necessarily a rigid dictum to live by. Think of it as a tool and a lens to view aspects of your life. The overall goal is to simplify your life and to spend your most precious commodity wisely.

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Denise Hill

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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