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Regain Control and Perspective, Perspective -Gain Control, Productive Improvements, Getting Things Done,

10 Min Read

80% of What You Do is Largely Irrelevant - So Make a Positive Change

Overwhelm-Success-with-CRMHave you ever gotten to the end of a day that was consumed with responding to demands from clients and colleagues, sloughing through e-mails and checklists, and ask yourself, "What have I really achieved today?"  Does that same feeling plague you over weeks and even months?

We all have just so much time.  The Pareto Principle, commonly known as the 80/20 principle, can help us decide how to use it. If you think of your day as a glass with defined dimensions, by using the 80/20 Principle you'll know what big rocks of activities to place in your schedule first.

Here is how Richard Koch describes the Pareto Principle in his book, The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less:

"The 80/20 Principle asserts that a minority of causes, inputs or effort usually leads to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards.  Taken literally, this means that, for example 80% of what you achieve in your work comes from 20 percent of the time spent.  Thus for all practical purposes, four-fifths (80%) of the effort - a dominant part of it - is largely irrelevant."

Here are some things you'll discover that are similar to Pareto's observations:

  • You wear the same 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time.
  • You think the same 20% of your thoughts 80% of your waking moments.
  • You eat the same 20% of your favorite foods at 80% of your meals.


Using this in business:

  • Just 20% of the salespeople generate 80% of the sales.
  • Just 20% of the movies make 80% of the money.
  • Just 20% of the criminals commit 80% of the crime.
  • Just 20% of the music groups sell out 80% of the concert seats.
  • Just 20% of your customers generate 80% of your revenue.
  • Just 20% of your products product 80% of your profits... and so on.


"Just 20% of your daily activities are responsible for 80% of your success, income and personal happiness. Likewise 80% of stuff is largely irrelevant"

Please understand that it doesn't always work out to be exactly 80/20.  Sometimes it is 70/30 or 90/10- so it matters a whole lot that you focus on the lower percentage, the activities that have the bigger return.


What can you do to make the biggest difference and reap the greatest rewards?

1. Nothing someone else could do as well or better.

2. Nothing someone else could do for the same price or cheaper.

3. Nothing you do to feel ‘busy' and justify your salary/invoices.

4. Nothing that keeps you inside your comfort zone.

5. Nothing that remains static and commoditized.

Or I would put it more positively:

1. It is something only you can do - solving an unusual problem, or doing it in a different style or both.


2. Because it's so distinctive, you can charge more than the next guy for it.

3. If you do it - and sell it - well enough, you don't necessarily need to feel "busy" all day every day.

4. You get to use your strengths, you feel "in the zone"- thus getting the greatest fulfillment.

5. It's a challenge that will fascinate you for the rest of your days.

Tim Ferriss, who wrote The 4-Hour Workweek, takes this to extremes, advising us to eliminate all tasks but the mission-critical 20% that delivers 80% of the results.


Here is what has bee successful for myself and our clients: 

As clearly as possible, defined the desired outcome.  What does success look like? What does DONE look like?

Take the next physical action and start to identify the 20% of activities that deliver the desired outcomes you want. Describe the next action with a verb:  Call, Email, Plan....

From that, create a STOP doing list and what someone else can do Reduce-stress-Success-with-CRMbetter.  Delegate or form an alliance with another who can use their strengths. 

Start to identifying your top clients and the people you want to develop stronger relationships with.  Pick one or two and make that first call.

Do it now.

80% of What You Do is Largely Irrelevant - So Make a Positive Change

For additional resources check out Success with Getting Things Done and related resources.

Also take the Next Step with Getting Things Done - one-on-one coaching.

Topics:   Regain Control and Perspective Perspective -Gain Control Productive Improvements Getting Things Done

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