The 80/20 rule, time management & productivity

“…a minority of causes, inputs or effort usually lead to a majority of the results… in practically all walks of life, there is a huge imbalance between the aggregate of cause and effect.”

How to Apply the 80/20 Principle to Your Freelance Business – Tom Ewer/Bidsketch

We’ve all heard about the 80/20 rule. But when you’re a tiny business it’s hard to stop trying to do it all. To focus on the 20% you’re actually good at and not let things you dread and/or are not good at suck up all your time.

I struggle here. If you do, too, Tom Ewer’s post about the Pareto Principle – a.k.a., the 80/20 rule – is for you.

In it, Ewer writes that the time we spend on our most gratifying and profitable tasks typically accounts for only 20% of our working hours; the rest of our time is spent “toiling away on the kind of work that offers a low (or non-existent) return.”

He says if we can tip the balance so that unproductive drudgery takes up the smallest part of our days we will be happier and more productive.

No kidding.

Applying the 80/20 rule

The post includes suggestions for increasing productivity, profit and satisfaction. Bold and highly attractive moves like:

  • “Fire” unprofitable clients
  • Eliminate tasks that don’t contribute to your business
  • Automate or hire someone to handle tasks that are necessary but don’t require your specific area of expertise

Jack of all trades = master of none

As a freelancer now, and a one-woman web department previously, I’m used to handling a wide variety of tasks. Pretty much whatever it takes to get the job done.

I’ve hired others when a project is clearly outside my areas of expertise, but because I’m pretty good at figuring things out my tendency is to “just take a quick look.”

Always famous last words >_<

It’s one reason I’m never bored. But it also means I often spend time soaking up knowledge about things I will never. ever. do. again (or never want to do again).

Morphing into an efficient, laid-back delegator of tasks is not easy for someone who feels obligated to act as a jack-of-all-trades.

Putting the 80/20 rule into practice

I’m learning. Slowly. Ewer’s post is helpful. Pop over and give it a read. It’ll be 7 minutes well spent.

How to Apply the 80/20 Principle to Your Freelance Business