Applying the 80-20 Rule —

Did you know that you wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time? That may be a no-brainer as everyone has their favorite pair of jeans or t-shirt that they like to wear. It also applies to our relationships; 20% of your relationships provide 80% of your support. This can mean a spouse, a significant other, a parent, or a very close friend. We only associate with 20% of our pool of friends, thus creating our support system.

A good way to describe the 80/20 rule is this: 80% of your outcomes come from 20% of your inputs. It really doesn’t matter what numbers you apply; the important thing to understand is that in your life, there are certain activities you do (your 20%) that account for the majority (your 80%) of your happiness and outputs.

Now let’s take this to a business standpoint and see how it can relate not only to your business, but to you as an individual for the business:

  • 20% of employees produce 80% of the work
  • 20% of your email list provides 80% email activity
  • 20% of your customers produce 80% of the complaints
  • 20% of your employees produce 80% of HR issues
  • 20% of your Customers generate 80% of your Revenues
  • 20% of your Products/Services produces 80% of your sales
  • 20% of your Work time produces 80% of your productivity

Your numbers may not be the perfect 80/20, but the largest chunk will come from a smallest number of people regardless of whether that is money, productivity, emails, or sales.

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If you are in a job that you currently do not enjoy, then you will be one of the 80% of employees who only produce 20% of the work because you are not motivated to produce the work. However, when you are away from work, your productivity is higher because you are doing something you enjoy.

So how do you become part of the 20% that produces 80% of the work? How do you find the motivation to be that productive when you’re on the clock? First, identify what is your motivation. Ask yourself why you took the job in the first place. Was it for the money? Benefits? Is it just to pay the bills? Whatever the reason that you decided to take the job you are in, remember why you took it. There was motivation behind taking the job, so there must be something in your job that you are still motivated to do day in and day out. Find the positives in your job: do you enjoy your co-workers? The daily tasks that you are doing? Talking with people? Find what is positive about the job experience and focus on that.

Cathy Sexton talks on negative versus positive thinking and says that thinking is like breathing: it goes on night and day and you can’t stop it. But you can change it. You can breathe slowly and deeply or shallowly and quickly. You can breathe any way you want. But you can’t stop.

The same is true about thinking. You can say something stupid or depressing to yourself. You can say something intelligent or inspiring to yourself. But you can’t stop thinking entirely. So when you find yourself disliking the content of your thoughts, instead of trying to stop yourself from thinking a thought, try to redirect your thoughts. Discipline yourself to think positive thoughts that are linked to why you accepted the job, and name one thing that you enjoy about your job when you start to think negatively about it.

Next, identify the time in which you are most productive. We are all more productive at some point in the day where we get more done. Find that time and plan to put your all into your work at that time. Some people are more productive in the mornings or afternoons whereas some are night owls. Once you have figured out your most productive time, implement it into your work life. Remember, it’s not the long hours that produce more work – it’s usually the lesser hours (during your most productive time) that gets more results.

Here is a good chart on how it looks when you apply the 80/20 rule to both your daily and business life. To learn more on how to be more productive and using the 80/20 rule, contact Cathy Sexton at cathy@theproductivityexperts.com  or visit her website www.theproductivityexperts.com