Activity vs. Productivity

Want to work fewer hours each day and get more done this year?

If so, (and who wouldn’t!) you’ve got to learn the difference between activity and productivity.

There is a concept called the Pareto Principal.  An Italian Economist in 1906 observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people.  From his principal, the 80/20 Rule was born.

It can be used in many ways.  For example, for many companies, 80% of their business comes from 20% of their clients.  Find out who the 20% are and take great care of them!

You can also use this rule when it comes to determining what you should do on a daily basis!

Let me suggest this to you:

20% OF WHAT YOU DO ON A DAY-BY-DAY BASIS GIVES YOU 80% OF THE BENEFIT!

Think about that.  It’s almost certainly true.

A few examples:

I read once that the famous author John Grisham commits to writing one page of a book a day.  Not 10, but one.  If he does only one a day, that comes out to 365 a year.  And he’s created his next bestseller!  It only takes him a short amount of time, but I’m sure John would tell you it’s the most valuable thing he does each day.

I usually exercise about 5 days a week at an average of about 30 minutes each time.  That comes out to about 2.5 hours a week.  Divide that by 168 hours and that is .014% of my time.  Less than 2%!  And yet exercising during that 2.5 hours brings me so much more than the time invested.  It keeps my stress down, energy up, and generally keeps my serotonin levels high, which makes me a happy boy!

Another example: My wife and I have a date every week.  We usually go out and have dinner then do something we both enjoy—a movie, visiting with friends, walking in a park, etc.  It only takes a few hours, but that few hours of focusing on each other helps us to have a great marriage.  It’s a great use of time.

The key is to figure out what your 20% is and then do more of it!!!

How?  Each morning, look at your list of to-do’s.  If you’re like most folks, you have a lot of activities planned.  Ask yourself, “What are these activities really bringing me?”  Look through your list and find the things that help bring you things that you value.  Focus your energy on these things first!

Another thought: Why not make it a habit to just eliminate or cross off one or two things from your list that are in all reality, unimportant.

It takes a little while to begin thinking this way, but you can do it.

Begin your 20% list today!  And enjoy more free time . . .

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  1. Rusty Lion
    Rusty Lion01-10-2013

    Great post. In addition to finding my 20%, I had to cure myself of the disease of saying “yes” and learn the skill of saying “no”. A”no” is often times saying “yes” to what you really want and/or need to do…which you would call your Top 20%.

    • Robert Mallon
      Robert Mallon01-10-2013

      You got that right Bill!

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