How to turn busyness into productivity

You don’t need to look far if you want to find a busy person. Hard workers seem to have a knack for keeping busy.

People in all walks of life seem to be working longer hours these days and many are doing unpaid work after hours. It’s not healthy, it’s not productive and it can take a toll on home and family life.

What’s interesting though is that being busy seems to have very little to do with actual success. Often you need to look beyond someone who is busy to find someone who is successful.

So, what is a successful person? Well that depends entirely on their own definition of success. If a person has achieved a predetermined goal then I would consider that a success.

Most people keep themselves busy with tasks and dealines that others impose on them, rather than goals they have personally set. So, the problem is hard workers are burning themselves out to help other people achieve their goals.

How then do you manage to start work on the important things? First you need to set some goals and then you need to decide what’s actually important.

I always try to remember what is known as the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of what you do will be accountable for 20 percent of results. Therefore the important activities, aka the top 20 percent account for 80 percent of results.

I didn’t just make that up. That’s a theory called the Pareto Principle and there are countless books about it. It doesn’t just apply to your to do list. This theory has been applied to marketing, fitness, diet and even relationships.

Roughly speaking 1 in 5 of your daily tasks will be important. You will probably find most of the remaining tasks are somewhat trivial. You can still do them if you have the time and are inclined to do so, however, make sure you always do the most important tasks first.

Many people will read this and have trouble working out what’s actually important to them. Reviewing your personal goals and making sure the tasks you choose are closely aligned to those goals is a great start.

Try it now. Write down at least 5 tasks you need to complete. Force yourself to choose 1 from every 5 and make that a top priority.

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