Forget the 80-20 Rule. Follow the 1-50 Rule Instead
Content was originally published on Inc.com on September 17, 2019.
Over the last few years, I have written a lot about time management and shared ways that you can do more by working less. Once you understand that the idea of a direct, one-to-one relationship between time and value is outdated, you can begin to upgrade the use of your time within your business for faster growth and a better work-life balance.
The Old 80-20 Rule
To upgrade your use of time, you first have to identify what tasks you do that truly create value for your business. And the first step to creating more value per unit of time is to concretely define what your real value-creation activities are and then focus on those activities to help grow your company.
If you’ve read anything on time management, you’ve come across Pareto’s Principle, inspired by the work of 19th-century economist Vilfredo Pareto. Commonly called the “80-20 Rule,” Pareto’s Principle states that 20 percent of your actions generate 80 percent of your results (high value) and 80 percent of your actions generate the other 20 percent of your results (low value). We have all been taught to focus on the 20 percent that generates the high-value work…but there is more that we can do.
With my coaching clients I have taken this idea and further refined it to create something that I share in detail in my latest book, The Freedom Formula.
The Math (Stick with Me)
If you take the 20 percent of your actions that generate 80 percent of your results and apply the 80-20 rule to it a second time, then 20 percent of that 20 percent produces 80 percent of 80 percent of your results. That means 4 percent of your effort (the 20 percent of 20 percent) generates 64 percent of your results (80 percent of 80 percent).
Hang in here with me for one more math moment and apply the 80-20 rule one final time. That means that just 1 percent of your effort (20 percent of 20 percent of 20 percent) generates 50 percent of your results!
That’s right–a tiny fraction of your highest-value work produces half of all your results.
No, this is not an exact science. Nor does this just work automatically. But Pareto’s Principle illustrates a valuable point: All time is not valued equally. An hour or two of your best time on Tuesday may have produced a far greater return than 30 to 40 hours of the low-value tasks you “checked off” on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
The 1 Percent that Matters
I encourage all business owners to choose one day a week where they block three to four hours out of their day to focus on the 1 percent that produces 50 percent of their results. Turn your cell phone off, shut down your email client, and work on the A-level tasks and projects that really matter. Avoid distractions and other people’s “fires,” and you will soon begin to see the power that comes with upgrading your time.
And once you have a handle on the top 1 percent of your task list, teach your key team members to do the same with their time, and watch your business grow exponentially.