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.


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?”


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. 

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