Productivity is less about getting loads done than it is getting the important things done first.
You need to prioritise to be productive but it’s easy to prioritise the wrong activities, especially when compiling a list of priorities. To-do lists often focus on important issues that feel pressing rather than on where your time can be most efficiently spent.
A fantastic alternative to a to-do list is something known as a 20:80 list. This is a system based on the Pareto Principle, named after economist Vilfredo Pareto who states that 20% of your efforts create 80% of your results.
Examples of the Pareto Principle are everywhere. In the workplace, you’ve probably experienced that 20% of people do 80% of the work, or that 20% of a sales force produces 80% of the sales. Need an example closer to home? Look in your wardrobe. You likely wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time.
Putting the Pareto Principle into Practice
Try drawing a line down the middle of a piece of paper. Write “20%” at the top of the left side and “80%” at the top of the right side. From there, show favouritism by only listing what matters most on the 20% side. The tasks that are at the forefront of your mind are probably the ones that will yield the most tangible results.
Anything that you know can wait, (which can usually be based on your level of enthusiasm for the task) can go on the 80% side of the list. If you do it correctly, you’ll end up with only a handful of tasks on the left side of the paper. Those are the ones you and your team should show favouritism to and complete first! They will produce 80% of what matters most to your project.
Having a horizontal priority list is an occupational hazard for many of us today. Why don’t you try something new and see if the 20:80 priority list works for you?