I’m reading Timothy Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Work Week at the moment, and I notice that he recommends using the Pareto Principle combined with Parkinson’s Law in order to focus one’s work so that one is achieving the maximum in the minimum time. This is very similar to what I have just been writing about in my posting DIT And Focus.
You may be more familiar with the Pareto Principle as the 80/20 Rule. This states that 80% of results are produced by 20% of the effort. This can be applied in many different ways. In a time management context you could say that 20% of your tasks produce 80% of your results. Or in a marketing context, it could be phrased as 20% of your customers produce 80% of your income. Note that the corollary is also true: 80% of your customers produce only 20% of your income!
By concentrating on the 20% that produce the results and jettisoning the other 80% you can greatly increase your productivity.
I expect most of you are familiar with Parkinson’s Law:
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion
As I have often said, if you are struggling to fit all your work into the day, the solution is to set limits on your working hours. This forces you to be more selective in what you do and more efficient in how you do it.
The Do It Tomorrow system works best with set working hours. If you carry out the audit procedure correctly whenever you fail to complete your Will Do list within your set hours for more than a few days, then you will be forced to narrow and define your focus. Always try to identify the 20% of actions which bring in that valuable 80% of results.
And if you gradually reduce the length of your working day, the effect will be even more pronounced. I don’t expect many of us will get down to the 4-Hour Week Tim Ferriss dangles before our eyes - but do we have any real doubt that our focus could do with a bit of improvement? How far can we go in the right direction if we use these two principles - Pareto and Parkinson?