How To Down-Size Your Workload and Accomplish more
Do less so you can do more. Being busy does not equal being productive, so how do we cut through the muck and see what’s actually working? Let’s turn to the wisdom of dead men for the answer.
Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist from the 1800s, was one of the first to attempt to understand the laws of Income Distribution. What he found was that 80% percent of a country’s wealth came from 20% of the population. This is the case in all kinds of situations and isn’t limited to national settings.
Tim Ferriss (is not dead, but is another Pareto fan) explains how to use this principle to decrease problems and increase happiness in our lives. He asks:
“Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?”
“Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?”
Ferriss calls us out on all the fictitiously productive tasks we do to keep ourselves busy, when in reality maybe we’re staying “busy” so we don’t have to face what’s most important. This could be running around answering emails, taking calls, and organizing your file cabinet because you need to do something until 5pm rolls around. Or maybe it’s trying to learn guitar before you ask that special someone on a date. Don’t get in the way of yourself.
This can be a hard pill to swallow. When I first learned about the 80/20 rule I felt completely called out. It led me to think about where I’m investing my time and what the returns are. I’m still pivoting, but for me personally, this will most likely mean leaving my part-time job and removing myself from a couple of projects. Why? Because as an entrepreneur I'd rather get one really great business off the ground than three mediocre ones. I want to get rid of the 20% that’s causing 80% of my headaches and invest more in the 20% that brings most of my happiness and satisfaction!
We all have busy lives, but they aren’t going to slow down or have more clarity without consistent, deliberate choices on our part. By removing 80% of our stress and frustration and investing in the 20% of sources that bring us joy, we liberate ourselves and can have greater peace and fulfillment in our lives. Do less so you can do more.