Would you be surprised if we said that you’re only actually getting anything done about 20% of the time? Probably not (but thanks for the stress reminder, right?). What might surprise you, though, is that this is true of EVERYONE. In fact, it’s so true that in 1896 an Italian economist developed a theory around this idea, and it came to be known as “The 80/20 Rule.”
You may have heard of this rule before – it’s been applied to everything from office management to physical training. The idea, basically, is that 80% of any results come from 20% of the effort put in. Alternatively, 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers, 80% of your stress comes from 20% of your problems, and so on. So, how can this knowledge help you?
“Work smart not hard” is an age old wisdom. And part of working smart is not wasting time. Much of your “workday” is probably spent responding to emails and checking social media. These are the non-essential functions of your job, and also the easiest. The essential parts are sometimes put off as long as possible because they are the hardest – other times we just don’t recognize that they are so essential.
According to the 80/20 Rule, 20% of your work is going to net you 80% of your profits, progress and recognition. So it’s probably pretty important to focus on that 20%, right? Right.
You may already know which customers give you the most business, or which topics bring in most of your web traffic. Whatever your goal, spend the most time on the small portion of your work and interactions that brings you the most success. And if you have to cut a corner somewhere, cut it from the other 80%!
This is not to say that the other 80% of your obligations should be disregarded completely. If 20% of your employees are stellar, you may think “I need to focus all of my attention on them to remain successful!” – but they are already successful. Knowing that your top dogs are doing great means you have time to work with the others to strengthen their skills as well.
That dependable 20% needs to be in place first, though. Make your important calls and visits first, before moving on to the less important work. Put your greatest effort and the bulk of your energy into what is actually making you successful, that way if your time is cut short or you run out of energy, you don’t have to stress about skipping anything crucial.
Some of you might hold such important positions that ALL of your work seems like a priority. But even when everything is important, some things are more important than others. Identifying them can be difficult – but as we said, it depends on your goals.
Outside the Office
The 80/20 rule is also widely applicable outside of a work environment. You probably hang out with 20% of your friends 80% of the time. You probably spend 80% of your money on 20% of your activities. Recognizing these patterns as natural and healthy can reduce some of the stress of trying to do it all and have it all.
The rule can even be applied to relationships! 20% of the problems we have in a romantic relationship are actually due to the relationship itself, while 80% is due to the internal or past demons of one or the other partner. Recognizing this helps you to resolve issues that are actually essential, and worry less about the rest.
It can also apply to health and fitness. We mentioned above that physical training is subject to it. But healthy eating can also be simplified by applying the rule to your efforts. The idea with anything is not to exhaust yourself with unproductive work.
Working smart is great, but working less is beautiful. Imagine that you could go home after you accomplished what you needed to for the day – how much more efficiently would you work? Or that you only had to do the essential exercises at the gym to be fit — how much time would you save?
The extraneous 80% will still need to get done, but the looming stress of uncertain success, or upcoming difficult work is eliminated. Making this a regular practice can not only lighten your schedule load, it’s guaranteed to lighten your mental load as well. No more wondering if you missed anything important each day – those parts got done first. And with a lighter load, it’s easier to spend time on the REAL essentials of life like family and personal happiness.
Managing stress is an art that requires a lot of preparation and planning. Our services not only melt the stress away through massage, yoga and meditation, but can teach you to avoid similar stress in the future. Our therapists and coaches will teach you to plan your life in such a way that even when stress arises, you will be above it.
Call or email us today to learn more about the 80/20 Rule or any other work/life balance ideas. We’re here to make YOUR life easier, every day.