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Brian Tracy, Time Management, You and the 80/20 Rule

November 18, 2013

There’s one resource we all can never get back.  And that’s time.  Some of us don’t pay much attention to time passing, some of us watch the clock.  Some of us work hard at getting more done in the time we have.   But what if most of what we focus on when it comes to time management is mis-guided?

Hint: in short time management is more about value than efficiency, but let’s take a brief look at Brian Tracy’s approach and see if his tips can help.  After all, he states if you follow what he suggests, you’ll double your productivity.

First of all, Brian points out that we should all start by facing the reality that we will never catch up.  We feel overwhelmed because we can never catch up and get it all done.  That’s just reality.  Some reports indicate we regularly have 15 hours or more of unfinished work, at any point in time, just waiting on us at our desk.

When you step back and look at life at work and home, Brian suggests the average person has about three hundred hours of projects needing attention right now and that few of us will ever make a  big dent in the backlog.

Since getting caught up isn’t a realistic expectation for time management, (that’s right, even if you are super-efficient, you’re still not going to sustain being caught up).

So Brian looks right at you and indicates one of the greatest secrets of time management is this; “You only get your life under control to the degree to which you stop doing things.”

Did your brain just hit the brakes on that one?  What does that exactly mean?  Well think of it this way, “Stop trying to do everything.”  And then let’s think a little more, because there’s more to it than just stopping, Brian wants you to just stop doing certain things.

From my perspective you can leverage what Brian Tracy is saying best by thinking of it this way, e.g. a key secret to time management is to:

  1. Stop trying to do everything.  Let go of expectation and pressure of doing everything, it’s unrealistic and ultimately self-defeating.
  2. And secondly, stop doing things that don’t create high value.  Or the corollary; focus on those things that create high value , that add to your quality of your life and the quality of life of others.

If that’s one secret or key point to time management, here’s the second, relatively widely known point.  Use Pareto’s 80/20 rule to make the decision on how to spend your time.  The rule which states:
Roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes.”

To improve at Time Management, you need to recognize which or what 20% of the stuff on your list delivers 80% of the value.  Then prioritize completing (setting aside time to complete) those tasks first.

He goes further to say that if you boiled all his time managing training down into one thing, it would be this:

“Everything comes down to one thing, selecting your most important task right now and starting on that right now, until it’s done.”

Why the emphasis on what you do first?

Brian suggests that if you make the mistake of trying to clear up all the small things first, you’ll find that the small things multiply and, pretty soon, you’ve spent your entire day doing those (small) things and (not what’s most important).  I’ll bet we’ve all had that experience before.

It gets worse!  If we have multiple priority #1 tasks, Brian indicates we tend to do the easiest or least discomforting thing first.  That’s understandable but totally backwards.

According to Brian, we tend to treat the biggest and ugliest priority tasks like a frog.  We put off touching it, much less eating it.  Brian says just the opposite, “Do the worst first.”  Do the most important thing, the biggest thing, the ugliest thing, the hardest thing.  That one thing could have the greatest impact on your day.  Do it first and stay with it until it’s done.  This is what Brian describes as, “Eating the Frog.”

If you can develop the habit of:

1. Making a list,
2. Organizing the list by priorities and,
3. Starting on number one and complete number one…

You’ll double your productivity the first day and from then on, you’ll double your productivity for the rest of your career.

Watch the short you-tube video below and I’ll show you how to implement Brian’s recommendations by using ManagePro.  Honestly, this will make it so much easier to manage your time so that you get the best results.

Bottom Line:

The trick to managing time better, is to spend the time on what matters most, not necessarily on getting more done in your day.  And to spend your time on what matters most, you’ll help yourself the most if you:
1. Give up trying to do it all.
2. Prioritize what creates the most value
3. Give top billing to knock out your top priorities… first
4. Use a technology or software program like ManagePro to support yourself in the process.

PS. One quick side note, in case you were thinking of writing out your priorities on paper or sticking a post-it note on your pc. 😉  Remember, if you write it down on paper somewhere, it’s easy to lose and just adds to the stack.  I’ll bet you probably already have enough paper on your desk to choke a camel and it’s not a great use of your time. Plus, if you’re using paper to track priorities, the process gets to be something separate from all of your other work.  Knocking out priorities works better when it fits visibly within the flow of the rest of your work.  That’s why I use ManagePro to keep my priorities and use of time in front of me throughout the day.

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