Time is our greatest asset. Maybe that’s why it’s always on our mind and why we feel like we never have enough of it. We go into work every day just to be confronted by a whirlwind of things to do, all of the common issues of our everyday lives. We wish we had the time management skills to take care of it all.
The problem is that time is a finite resource, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. There are probably a million systems out there designed to help you “get more time”—but that’s impossible. Or they tell you how to become more “efficient”—and then you just end up wasting that extra time on other busywork.
The only way forward is to become better at deciding how to allocate the time you have. What if you focused not on doing more things faster, but on doing the things that have the highest impact? What if you got rid of the busywork that wastes your time? I’ll tell you: you’d be able to work toward your goals and do the things you love like recharging, exploring your hobbies, and developing important relationships.
But how do you get there?
The 80/20 mindset
This famous principle simply states that 80% of results will come from just 20% of the activities. Consider that for a moment: what if you singled out the actions that are most important for driving your results? What if you focused on being more effective with your most important projects, clients, and tasks—the true heavy hitters—instead of wasting your time elsewhere? As you consider how this might work for you and your team, I encourage you to think about these additional questions:
What is my 20 percent?
In other words, sit down—alone or with your people—and decide which actions get you closer to your goals. Find the high-priority tasks and items associated with those actions.
Which of these items can be delegated to someone else?
Next, decide if some of your remaining, lower-priority tasks can be delegated elsewhere. You might delegate tasks to someone who works for you, either someone better positioned to do the job or with someone with more time or opportunity to help. You might even delegate these tasks to someone outside of your organization if needed.
When you sit down to ask these two questions, you’ll start sorting things into a few different categories. First, you’ll have high-priority items that you need to do personally. These will be your main focus, the things you work on to drive success. Second, you’ll have high-priority items that someone else can do. Passing these tasks along can help free up your time to work on higher-impact activities. Third, you’ll have items that aren’t a priority. There are many of these in everyone’s lives—and it’s time for you to ditch yours. Stop doing the low-impact tasks that don’t bring results and focus your energy and attention on the ones that do.
If you work to apply the 80/20 rule and ask these questions, you’ll find that instead of having more time, you’ll have more impact. You’ll focus on the things that really make a difference, all while getting more time to recharge and live the life that you want to lead.