Thursday, March 24, 2011

I don't have enough time!!

The number one excuse/reason given by people for not getting done what they need to get done.  We hear it all the time about exercise.   "I just don't have enough time!"  or "As soon as I find the time, I will do it."  Sound familiar??  Let me introduce (or remind you if you already heard this) to a simple principle and another law that will change this perception. 

Praeto's Principle!  You have heard of that right?!?  The name might not be familiar but the concept is...Praeto was the guy who first described the 80-20 rule or the Law of the Vital Few (still not familiar??  Wow are you in for a surprise.)  So, basically how this works is that 80% of the results we get come from 20% of our efforts.  This started as an economics principle but can be applied to everything we do.  The problem comes in when we don't concentrate our efforts to achieve these results or viewed in another light...we spend 80% of our time to accomplish only 20% of the results!!  Think about that for a second and let it sink in...80% of our time is spent to accomplish only 20% of the results!!  All that time and effort chasing minimal results.  So lets apply it to our work life, take a typical 40 hour work week,  in 8 hours we accomplish 80% of the results and we spend the other 32 hours working on the other 20%!!  How is that for productivity?  Some have even argued that it is really 90-10 or that 90% of our results come from 10% of our effort!!  How crazy is that!  Ok, I'll give you a minute because if you haven't heard this before you are sitting there thinking that is insane there is no way this is true!  Check it out, look at what you do during a given day or week and look where the results come in.  The other argument is that well that might be true but I have to get 100% or my job done or my boss isn't going to be happy.  True, but let's introduce you to another law.

Parkinson's Law (no not the disease-this term was created by Prof. Cyril Northcote Parkinson states that "work expands to fill the time available for it's completion."  Hmmm, sound familiar,  isn't it amazing that when something absolutely has to get done even with little or no time to do it that somehow we find a way to get it done?  Or at least we know people that have an amazing ability to get things done with very little time?  We have all done it, procrastinated until the last possible minute and then somehow pull out the project in a riduculous amount of time?  But on the other end of the scale when we know we have a certain amount of time to get things done the work swells to consume the time.  This is a subconscious law, when we have time we can fuss over everylittle detail, need more research, need more conversation, debate, look at every possible angle until its crunch time then we have to move into action.  As the old saying goes "if you want something done give it to a busy person."

So putting these two "Laws" together we can see that if we expanded or increased the 10-20% that creates maximal return and made sure we didn't fill our time available with the other stuff we would not only be more efficient and effective but we would have more time for the things we want to do.  The hard part, as with anything, is putting this into practice.  But, look around you for the people that seem to have a handle on these two laws, they are out there.

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