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Get More Done by Doing Less

When was the last time you made space to plan and prepare well?

A friend sent me a brief article today on linkedin about the necessity of making time for what’s important. This got me to thinking about the 80/20 rule also known as the Pareto principle. This principle states simply that 80% of the impact in our lives comes from the way we spend 20% of our time. Here’s how this looks practically.

Out of your entire week, this means to be the most productive you need to spend the equivalent of one day out of five preparing, planning and building relationships. Or if you want to break it up that’s around two hours a day doing those types of activities. That’s not so hard if you get up to do this or even forgo an evening TV show to do a little proactive thinking about the way you spend your time. You could also use this time to get together with a friend to talk over how things are going.

Covey put together a great visual illustration of what it looks like to spend your time doing the “important, but not urgent” activities (quadrant two) that will give you this payoff. See the attached picture to understand what I’m talking about.

If this bothers you, that’s OK. The point isn’t to obsessively micromanage your time. The point is that we all need to plan time to work on what’s most important for us or it will never get done.

Right now, my family is planning to move in about a month. This means I have to block off a few hours daily to plan and prepare well so we can be ready. Another example is that I plan a morning a month to examine my life, my schedule and my priorities. Then, at the end of that time, I plan my month accordingly.

How are you doing? I challenge you right now to plan a few hours to examine your life and schedule. Ask yourself what’s most important and make some space to work on it. It’s not hard, just unfamiliar for many of us.

Doing this means you will have to say no to some things. But as a friend tells me regularly, we say no to the good things so we can say yes to the great things. It may seem at first like you are wasting productive time to plan proactively, but in the end, you’ll actually have accomplished more.



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