Applying the 80/20 Rule To Get More Done With Less

The last week or so, I’ve been having to balance out work and family even more so than usual. For obvious reasons. 😉 And family…

The last week or so, I’ve been having to balance out work and family even more so than usual. For obvious reasons. 😉 And family has mostly won. But, it really brings to mind the whole balancing act.

Over at TheInfoPreneur.net, I talked about the 80/20 rule briefly in a post and I thought I would expand upon it somewhat today. It is otherwise known as the Pareto principle. Simply put, it says:

bullseye80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.

Now, the exact 80/20 ratio is immaterial here and it may not hold exactly true in all cases. However, I think you will find, across the board, that most of the benefits in your life come from roughly 20% of your work.

The “trick” is simply to focus on the 20% and not get so worked up over the 80%. When you do that, you’ll find that you can work less, but make either the same amount of effect or more.

Let’s look at some examples.

  • Answering Email. In almost all cases, dealing with email has no direct impact on your bottom line. Obviously, it can’t be ignored, but chances are email falls within the 80%.
  • Social Media. Social media most definitely falls within the 80%. There were plenty of people making money on the Internet before Twitter and Facebook existed. These things are tools. They are good tools. But, they are not direct contributors to the bottom line.
  • Writing An Ebook. There is a good chance that this would fall within the 20% for you. An ebook helps you increase your brand. It can help you grow your list. These are clear benefits.

So, the first thing you need to do is define exactly what your targets are. Are you looking to make money? Then money is a target. Perhaps traffic. Brand growth. On the flip side, lots of Twitter followers or high comment numbers probably aren’t end goals as much as they are mere indicators of whether your end goals are progressing.

With your end goals clearly defined, you have a guidepost by which to judge the things you do all day and determine if they are direct contributors to those end goals or not.

You’ll find you might have to be fairly brutal in your evaluations. You might think that answering every blog comment is very important, for example, but is it really? Exactly HOW is that contributing to your end goal? Same with using Twitter. Answering email. Even writing posts!

Realize that just because something might fall within the 80% doesn’t mean you’re not going to do it. It does, however, put some perspective onto its relative importance.

So, if my primary goal is an established blog-based business with a full-time income, let’s run through a sample categorization of some of the routine tasks involved…

80% Tasks 20% Tasks
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Reading Other Blogs
  • Instant Messaging
  • Accounting/Admin
  • Research
  • Blog Commenting
  • Writing Blog Posts*
  • Videos & Editing
  • Product Creation
  • Split Testing & Conversion
  • Product Launch Planning
  • Writing Blog Posts*

* Note that I put blog posting into both categories. Obviously, writing posts is important, however I think many bloggers think that posts are the final product of blogging as a business. They’re not! Most times, blog posts do not DIRECTLY impact income, which is why I put it in the 80% category. At the same time, you’re not going to achieve much reach if you don’t do it, which is why it is in the 20%. So, my point here is to not limit your thinking. You cannot write posts all day and expect to get paid. In fact, your posts won’t make you a dime unless you’re doing the other 20% tasks.

So, how do you apply the 80/20 rule to your own blogging? Try this:

  1. Make a list of every type of tasks you do as a blogger.
  2. Make a separate list of your end goals.
  3. Now, go over the list you made in #1 and categorize them based on whether they have a direct impact on your end goal.

Now, with this information in hand, you can do the following:

  1. Readjust your emphasis on the 80% tasks and focus more on the 20% tasks. Sometimes you may find that some things that you do serve no real purpose at all, in which case you can simply eliminate it. Sometimes, the 80% task is important, but doesn’t directly lend itself to the end goal (i.e. email). In this case, you might want to adjust the emphasis on it to allow more time for more important things. For example, instead of having email open all day, keep it closed and only check/reply to email twice per day.
  2. Evaluate your 20% tasks and ask yourself this question: Are you even doing those things which will help you achieve the end goals? You might find that you need to add some 20% tasks to your routine and that you were just spinning your wheels beforehand. For example, if your goal is to generate income from your blog and yet you spend all day writing posts and tweeting, then you probably don’t have any 20% tasks because you’re not really doing anything to help you achieve that end goal.

Taking some time to evaluate this for yourself is one of the most important lessons there is in being a successful blogger.

Blogging can be quite overwhelming without a system of evaluation of importances. All tasks are NOT equal. You need to learn to determine which are important and which are not as important, then learn to divide your available time accordingly.

Master this and you’ll be a HUGE step ahead of other bloggers who aren’t doing it.

Got a question about this post? Just #AskBMA!
About David Risley
David Risley is the founder of the Blog Marketing Academy, a 20-year veteran blogger and online entrepreneur. His focus? Building a reliable, recurring business around his "lifestyle" and the lives of his students. He has this weird obsession with traveling in his motorhome around the country with his wife and 2 kids. David also likes to talk about himself in the third person. In bios like this one. Read his full story.