According to popular business philosophy 80% of our results stem from just 20% of our activities, which means that virtually 80% of our time is spent on non productive activities. Broadly speaking this simply means that many business owners spend a significant proportion of their time on non income producing or insignificant activities.
Although 80-20 principle was first outlined by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto over a hundred years ago it is still as relevant today as it was then. It offers a powerful and easy to remember rule of thumb for combating the time scarcity with which so many entrepreneurs seem to be troubled with. Implementing a strategy based on this rule can not only result in greater profitability in your business but also in more leisure time for yourself which is why, after all, most of us started up in business in the first place!
So here are 5 simple steps for maximising your work week:
1) Keep a work log for at least a week
Write down all of your activities and the time spent doing them. Initially this will feel like an extra burden in your already busy schedule, but this will help you get a true picture of your working week and time sinks. There’s nothing like black on white to give you a true picture of what’s really going on.
2) Analyse your activities
Next, separate your activities into high priority tasks, ie. those that actually generate income or where only you have the skills to do the work (outcome driven), and low priority activities others can do just as well, or where the activity can be easily delegated or outsourced (process driven). You will almost always find that you are spending a lot of your time on low priority, process driven activities. In almost all businesses these non productive activities tend to absorb much more time than they should.
3) Delegate non productive activities
Once you have identified your low priority activities delegate as many of them as possible to support staff, providing training where required. You do not have to employ an additional member of staff to take on these responsibilities, there are many ways to outsource these activities cost-effectively. For example, you can find may service providers on Fiverr.com at a very affordable cost.
4) Estimate the time required for any remaining low priority activities
Once you have delegated all that you can, your next step is to estimate how much time you should be spending on the remaining low priority activities to make maximum use of your productive time. Do not work disproportionately hard at these low priority tasks and set aside specific time each day or week to complete them.
5) Prioritise your remaining activities
Once you have cleared out the activities that bring you little or no return, it is time to turn your attention to those activities that do bring in the most returns. Try to focus most of your time on just a few high priority, high return activities.
The objective throughout is to maximise your results from the areas of high return and to delegate the rest. Spending too much time on non productive activities that do not generate income in your business is a major source of stress for many business owners.
For more success in your business and personal life, whether that means more money, more time spent with your family or just making more time for your leisurely pursuits, start making the 80-20 rule a part of your daily routine.
Here’s an interesting take on productivity in business…