Posted by: babbo | April 19, 2010

Where Have You Been Daddy Brain? Time Management and the 80/20 Principle

You may have noticed that the frequency of my postings has dropped from 2-3 per week to about once per month. It’s not that I don’t have anything to talk about. Far from it. But recently things have changed pretty dramatically, and for the past three months I’ve found myself on a journey back to balance.

On January 20th, 2010 I was laid off of my job.

Wait, don’t feel bad. It was actually a great gift. For months leading up to the layoff, I had been wondering how I was going to make the transition from full-time copywriter to the next phase of my life – a combination of professional speaker, book author and freelance copywriter (a crucial ingredient until the former two professions get some momentum).

Believe it or not, I’ve had less time (and less energy) to blog since I was laid off.

Which leads me to an interesting concept I stumbled upon recently in a book called, The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss. In his chapter “The End of Time Management,” Ferris speaks of Pareto’s Law (also commonly known as the 80/20 Principle), which has vastly changed my life for the better. I’m hoping it can do the same for you …

What is Pareto’s Law?
According to Ferris, it was originally a “mathematical formula he [Pareto] used to demonstrate a grossly uneven but predictable distribution of wealth in society – 80% of the wealth and income was produced  and possessed by 20% of the population.”

But that’s not what I found interesting. The effects of this concept go WAY beyond Pareto’s original intention. It relates to each and every one of our lives – from time management, to what we do with our time to begin with (and who we spend it on).

Ferris goes on to explain, “80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. Alternate ways to phrase this include:

– 80% of the consequences flow from 20% of the causes
– 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort and time”

Since I’m only able to work about a 20-hour work week (1. because that’s all the hours I want to work and; 2. family stuff won’t allow for much more than the 20 hours anyway), I started to examine everything I do in a day. From e-mails, to how I go about procuring work, to what I actually work on – I used a pair of questions Ferris asked to determine what’s effective and what’s been a waste of time.

1) Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?
2) Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?”

Pretty simple. Pretty powerful, too. Some of the things I realized were that my hour-a-day online job search was basically a complete waste of time (although I do love using my Mac) – while referrals, developing my speaking career and contacting literary agents has been manifesting positive results. It’s important to remember that activity (being busy) is not the same as accomplishment.

How about the greatest source of my problems? Me. I’m not kidding. I was getting in my own way by letting stress, anxiety and worry get the best of me – and drain my energy. That had to stop (still working on this).

The good news is that I had some well-developed goals when I got laid off, so my transition had a clear focus from day one (if you’d like some help defining, setting and attaining your goals click here, or search keyword “Goals” in the search box on the right).

The truth is, you don’t need to lose your job to make a transition to a better life. Whether it’s managing your time, or setting goals for a better life, getting started now is the best way to reach your destination.

Picking up Tim’s book is well worth the investment. It’s full of great information, ideas and tools to help you accomplish some short-term goals. And it’s a good read. If nothing else, it will expand your thinking and show you that there are other ways to live (and manage your time). For more on Tim’s book, go to Amazon.com.

And remember, you are not alone …

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Responses

  1. Yes! I eventually got there too. I crunched the numbers and did a similar ratio, not adding quite up to 100 (60/40/10) and blogging is now down to 10% of my time. So, I have a goal to post once/week. It’s been extremely freeing.


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