If you are a follower of this blog, you must know the value of having a to-do list to help you manage your tasks. If you don’t use a to-do list, you need to check out this post on why you need one. For the rest of us who have to-do lists, if you had 10 items on your to-do list for the day, how do you decide which task to focus on?
Not all tasks are created equal. If you kept doing only low value tasks, you wouldn’t be as productive as you could be. There is something called the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule). It was named after Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto discovered that 80% of the wealth was held by roughly 20% of the population. This ratio has been applied to other areas outside economics. Applying it to your to-do list, 20% of your tasks are responsible for 80% of your results. If you would only focus on the two most important tasks on your 10-item list every day, you would experience a huge boost in your productivity.
These tasks are what Brian Tracy refers to as A-tasks. They are the tasks you want to focus on and get done first thing in the morning before you do any other task. The other 8 tasks on your list, you can handle after the A-tasks or you can delegate if they would be best done by another person.
The ratio might not be exactly 80/20 for you. You might have 3 or 4 A-tasks on a 10 item list. You need to identify what those A-tasks are and make sure they are what you finish working on every day before you work on anything else. Even if you don’t have time at the end of the day to work on the other tasks, you can sleep easy knowing the tasks that account for 80% of your productivity have been taken care of.
Which would you rather be caught doing? The 20% tasks that lead to 80% of your productivity or vice versa? I know which team I am on.