80/20 Your Work

80/20 Your Work

Humans tend to get stuck in patterns and continue doing things simply because “we’ve always done them that way,” even if there’ s a better way to do something or it no longer serves a purpose.

Every now and then, it’s important to evaluate how you’re spending your time and cut out things that once has a purpose, but no longer generate the desired results so that you can focus on the things that matter the most.

Enter the 80/20 Rule, or Pareto Principle.

In 1906, Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, observed that 20% of the Italian people owned 80% of their country’s accumulated wealth. Over time this analytic has come to be termed “The Pareto Principle”, also known as the 80/20 Rule.

It tends to have an uncanny accuracy when applied to life. For example, you probably wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time; and you probably listen to 20% of your song catalog 80% of the time. True?

Consider these additional applications of the 80/20 Rule:

  • Time: 20 percent of our time produces 80 percent of the results.
  • Products: 20 percent of our products bring in 80 percent of the revenue.
  • Job: 20 percent of our work gives us 80 percent of our satisfaction.
  • Speech: 20 percent of any presentation produces 80 percent of its impact.
  • Funds: 20 percent of the people will donate 80 percent of the money.

More broadly, the 80-20 Rule suggests that 80 percent of your accomplishments come from only 20 percent of your efforts.

Now, that’s something to think about.

In a business context, the 80/20 rule reminds us that the relationship between input and output is not always balanced.

It’s an interesting concept. The trick, of course, is to figure out what makes that 20 percent so productive. Then, devote more of your time to these productive activities, and reduce the time spent on unproductive work. To analyze how you spend your time, keep a log of your daily activities for about two or three weeks.

Then start finding solutions to these time wasters. Can you create form letters for replying to correspondence, or have an assistant draft replies? Can you or an assistant clean up and organize your filing system? How about combining business trips, or scheduling travel time for off-hours?

In sum, 20 percent of your priorities will give you 80 percent of your production if you spend your time, energy, money, and personnel on the top 20 percent of your priorities.

If you haven’t re-evaluated how you spend your time lately, consider applying the 80/20 Rule so that you can focus on what matters to you most. What has been taking up a disproportionate amount of time in your life that no longer serves its purpose? What parts of your work of business do you need to give up so that you can focus on what matters to you most?

Drop a comment. I’d love to hear how this applies (or doesn’t apply!) to your own life and work.

Informed by the book, Indie Business Power: A Step-By-Sep Guide for 21st Century Music Entrepreneurs by Peter Spellman.

Leave a Reply