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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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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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