Pareto: 80% of Your Time is Spent on Trivialities

The 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle) indicates 80% of your activities are trivial and 20% deliver results. Who wants to go to their CEO and say I’m wasting 80% of my time?

It’s shocking to suggest that 80% of an employee’s time is available for richer activities. It’s even more uncomfortable to apply that rule to ourselves.

You may be thinking, if 80% of my activities are trivial, why am I stressed out and time pressured? One reason, you haven’t identified triviality. What are you doing that doesn’t take you where you want to go – that doesn’t deliver results?

I was reminded yesterday that organizations support their mission with trivial activities. For example, when someone signs off on documents they don’t read, they’re engaged in trivial activities.

You may suggest that the sign-off is to keep them in the loop. Is the delay worth it? Would a weekly or monthly report satisfy the need?

Is your team spinning their wheels? Maximizing their time and energy requires clear direction, guiding values, planning, goals and objectives, prioritizing, scheduling, controlling, delegating, and more.

Drucker explained, “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”

80% of our time is spent on trivialities because effectiveness and efficiency require persistent intention and focus.

A word of caution:

Accepting the challenge of effectiveness and efficiency drives some toward ineffectiveness. You may believe honing processes, procedures, and getting more things done is the answer. There’s a place for that. But, effectiveness and efficiency begins with people.

Great teams love delivering meaningful results; enable them.

How can leaders create effective, efficient environments where team members spend more time delivering meaningful results and less time on trivialities?


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