With 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in day and 365 days in a year all fixed, what is there to manage? No one can add even one second to the 60 seconds in a minute. You cannot add one hour to the 24 hours in a day. The best you can do therefore is to manage yourself and your activities within the available time. This is where work efficiency is very important. How much work can you cram into the available hours and still remain effective and efficient? The answer to this question determines how smart you can work. To do it successfully, you need to know something about the “Pareto Principle” now loosely referred to as “Pareto Law.” I was introduced to Pareto principle myself while in graduate school in 1993. It fascinated me then and it still fascinates me till today. You will soon get to know why. I have since discovered that apart from its use for time management, it also has general applications to almost all forms of human enterprise. It is also called “Rule 20/80.” Basically, the rule indicates that “20% of the goals you achieve account for 80% of your effectiveness.” It is a general rule and a reliable guide. It may not be accurate to the dot as you have in mathematics but it is a good guide. The following examples will make this rule clearer to you.
Time: 20% of your time produces 80% of the results.
Workers: 20% of your workers do 80% of the work.
Football: 20% of the players produce 80% of the result.
Products: 20% of company products bring in 80% of its profits.
Customers: 20% of your customers buy 80% of your products.
Family: 20% of your family members consume 80% of your resources.
Telephone: 20% of your callers make 80% of your calls.
Banking: 20% of bank customers own 80% of the deposits.
Shareholding: 20% of shareholders own 80% of the shares.
Donations: 20% of donors donate 80% of the fund.
From the foregoing it is easy to discern that the Pareto rule has general application. It is a very useful tool for managing time. It is the rule that can be of help to you when prioritizing your daily activities. It helps you to draw up your “to-do” list on daily basis. It guides you to locate your benefit centers to enable you deploy your available time as appropriate. You must therefore spend more of your time pursuing your most important goals. This is because as proven by the Pareto rule, 20% of your goals will account for 80% of your effectiveness. This enables you to reduce time wastage to the barest minimum.
To draw up your “to-do” list everyday you need to ask yourself and find answers to the following questions.
What volume of work is available?
What is urgent?
What is priority?
Which job is to be done at what time and in which location?
Who will do what?
Which activities should I be spending more time on?
Which should take less of my time?
Which activities can be deferred to another day?
What techniques can I adopt to save time?
The answers to these questions will help you to plan your day and to function well. With adequate daily planning, you can always get more done within your working hours. With proper planning, even though you cannot buy yourself additional second in any single day, you will “gain” more hours of useful work.
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