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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

Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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