Time Hack: Focus on high-leverage activities

Takeaway: It doesn’t matter how productive you are if you’re not doing the right things in the first place. Look around for the highest-leverage activities in both your work and home life.

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute, 5s.

dominos.002

A question was recently posed on the popular question-and-answer website Quora that asked, “What’s the single most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your professional life?”

80-20

The top answer is one that I recommend you read in whole, and it promotes the virtues of the 80-20 rule. The rule says that 80% of the results you achieve come from 20% of your efforts. According to Edmond Lau, this “20% of work consists of [your] highest leverage activities”.1

The 80-20 rule is one that’s widely-known and referred to, particularly in business, where 80% of your sales often come from 20% of your customers. What really makes Lau’s answer unique, though, is his application of the principal to how he manages his time.

Some of the more interesting high-leverage activities he engages in are:

  • Mentoring new employees (since one hour of mentoring will likely pay for itself ten times over)
  • Building and automating repetitive work
  • Investing in learning
  • Pushing back on meetings without an agenda, or ones he doesn’t want to be a part of

All of this of course begs the question – what are the highest-leverage activities in your work and home life? It’s one thing to do things more efficiently, but are you actually doing the right things?

It’s a question I’ll be thinking about over the next several days, particularly as it pertains to this site.2


  1. Source: http://www.quora.com/Whats-the-single-most-valuable-lesson-youve-learned-in-your-professional-life/answer/Edmond-Lau 

  2. I think the answer is to simply keep writing, and create as much valuable stuff as I can. Valuable content first, promotion and everything else second. 

  • Pingback: A Year of Productivity — Week Two Recap()

  • Pingback: A Year of Productivity — 3.5 simple email hacks that will save you days of time()

  • Pingback: A Year of Productivity — High-leverage activity: Learn to touch type()

  • It can definitely be tricky to find the highest leverage activities — to know where to focus that 20% of your effort. I struggle with it daily.

    Part of the problem is a lack of priority, a lack of focus on what matters most. I’m sure I’m not the only one that suffers from fluctuating priorities.

    But in order to put the Pareto principle to its best use, you absolutely MUST know your priorities. Otherwise you’ll just be floundering from one thing to the next.

    Cheers!

  • It can definitely be tricky to find the highest leverage activities — to know where to focus that 20% of your effort. I struggle with it daily.

    Part of the problem is a lack of priority, a lack of focus on what matters most. I’m sure I’m not the only one that suffers from fluctuating priorities.

    But in order to put the Pareto principle to its best use, you absolutely MUST know your priorities. Otherwise you’ll just be floundering from one thing to the next.

    Cheers!

Pin It on Pinterest

Emails suck. My newsletter doesn't.

After you sign up, I'll send you a few brand new productivity posts every Monday morning.

Join 200,000 monthly readers and never miss a single thing!

You can unsubscribe at any time, and I won't do anything slimy with your email. There are no catches.