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How to triple your productivity using the 80/20 rule

Posted date:
Mitch Hills, Director

The number one thing I value most in the world is time, so I am all about productivity and using that time effectively.


A really cool concept entrepreneur Tim Ferriss writes about in his book The Four Hour Work Week (if you haven't read it, literally go buy it now) is called the 80/20 rule.

It's simple, it's fast and it can triple your productivity if you execute it properly.

The 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule suggests that 20 per cent of your tasks make up 80 per cent of your results. So let's say you have 10 things on your to-do list. Two of those are particularly important, and if you do eight of those tasks, it doesn't necessarily mean you were more productive.

For example, you have a really important proposal you need to submit or a presentation you have to finish, or whatever it is that has been sitting on your to-do list for far too long (you already know what it is).

You're meant to be doing that but instead you do other things on the list, such as cleaning your car, sending an email or returning an item of clothing. They're on your list but they're not productive, so at the end of the day you're going to feel like you accomplished all this “stuff” but, realistically, you haven't touched (or at least barely touched) the important tasks.

You’re now swamped because the things that matter aren't being addressed. You have cleaned your car like a boss but it was in no way productive.

Key takeaways for startups

Start-up founders need to learn to notice the difference between being productive and just being active. So here are three key takeaways:

  1. Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.
  2. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.
  3. Do not invent things to avoid doing the important.

What you do is more important than how you do it. So before you dig in to all of those tasks, ask yourself: "If this was the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied?"

Then you can make a decision on what really matters. Really think about that 20 per cent that will get real, tangible results in your life and focus on them instead.

Take a look at your to-do list and start prioritising them, even completely remove the tasks that take up time but don't get you anywhere. You will get better results, have more time for the important tasks and feel more accomplished. Enjoy.

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