Apply the 80/20 Rule and Watch Your Personal Productivity Soar

Before we can apply the 80/20 rule, we need a clear picture of what it actually is and a basic idea of where it originated.

In the early 1900’s, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that twenty percent of the people in Italy owned eighty percent of the wealth. Over 30 years later, Dr. Joseph M. Juran, who worked in the field of Quality Management in the United States, recognized a similar occurrence, namely, that many things in life are unevenly distributed.

He referred to this trend as Pareto’s 80/20 Principle, which is otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. Basically this means that a small percentage (roughly 20%) of the overall activity yields a larger percentage (roughly 80%) of the result.

Applying the 80/20 rule to your personal productivity will help you to prioritize your work from most important to least important and then to budget your time accordingly. To make prioritizing your tasks a bit easier, estimate the amount of time you will need to complete each task. You will be more productive if you focus on completing the most important tasks first and if you finish time-sensitive projects before tackling other tasks.

One survey revealed that while people spend 60 hours a week in their offices, they do less than 20 hours of actual work. Applying the 80/20 rule, using the aforementioned suggestions, could send the average office-worker soaring to employee of the month in no time flat!

With your priorities set and a definite plan in place as to what work you need to complete and the time-frame you have to complete it, you are well on your way to improved personal productivity. Again, the 80/20 rule suggests that in a small amount time you can be very productive. Therefore, beware of becoming side-tracked by non-essential intruders like procrastination.

Keep in mind the old adage, “why put off tomorrow what you can do today!” Also, be mindful that in the course of a day, unexpected things do come up and require our time. However, this is usually the exception and not the rule. If you really want your productivity to soar, stay focused on the goal of completing your tasks on-time!

Now that you know where you want to be, it’s a good time to ask yourself where you are now in relation to reaching your goal. Are you already in the 20% of efficient, productive workers, are you in the 80% of not-so-productive workers, or are you somewhere in-between?

What does your annual or quarterly review reveal about your personal productivity? What do your peer reviews show? Regardless of your current standing, take an honest look at the work you’ve done lately. You may not need a full overhaul of your work habits but instead you may just need to fine-tune a few areas.

Don’t hesitate. Why not start today? Apply the 80/20 rule at work and even at home and just watch your personal productivity soar!

Improve Personal Productivity by Knowing Yourself Well

How do we improve personal productivity at work? Recall that personal productivity is an equation of Me, You and Situation? We want to work on the Me factor. Personal productivity starts from the individual’s awareness or as we term it Personal Awareness. Personal Awareness is based on how our mental model works. Your mental model setups mental boundaries, predict the outcome or process of work. Our personal awareness (surrounding the Me) can be characterized into four quadrants.

“I know what I can do” – The most preferred quadrant. Individuals of this quadrant know what they are doing. Know who, what, where, when and how they can do to achieve their objectives. Usually they are confident individuals that are able to predict the outcome.

“I know what I cannot do” – Usually paired together with individuals of “I know what I can do”; Individuals are conscious of their limit of their abilities. This is important as they can identify which type of work is suitable for them and which are above their abilities.

“I do not know what I can do” – Individuals fail to recognize their fullest potential. Their superiors may have identified their untapped potentials but always stumble with the unwillingness of the individual to unleash them. Usually these individuals are resistance to change.

“I do not know what I cannot do” – Ignorance is not a blessing here. Individuals that fall into this quadrant are usually ignorant and over-confident. They fail to see what they can’t perform and usually get themselves into trouble.

Personal productivity starts from understanding your personal awareness. In the four quadrants, by knowing where you are, you can estimate your effort in a task, the time frame committed, the boundaries you are working in, or even further improve personal productivity. Personal productivity is not merely the personal aspect but it can also be achieved at the situational aspect where for example, you are aware of how much effort is required in performing a certain task in a particular situation.

Of course, there is no one straight cut to a specific quadrant. There can be combinations of quadrant and they can deviate in different situations. Now look back the past events that happened at work. Which of the quadrants do you feel you best relate to in how you are aware of yourself and the situation? Were you able to identify that you were able to optimize personal productivity if you were being more aware of yourself or the situation? Have a thought about it! 😉

The Definition of Productivity

People commonly understand productivity as a variety of things in a variety of fields. In a business that has closest relations to it, productivity is understood in various ways according to which aspect is studied. (According to the newest report, there are about twenty business-related definitions of productivity!)

The Concepts of Productivity

Most of the concepts have a relation to productivity between input and output to the systems studied. Productivity contains variables as well as other inter-relations within the group to which it belong(machinery systems, factory, office etc).

Also it is considered as the stimulus-response model in which inputs cause outputs. Generally, for the purposes of simplicity, we can understand it as the output divided by the input. But there is still something confusing on the point of this view.

In most fields, productivity is understood as “clearly the relationship between the resources which come to an organization system for a specified time period and the outputs which are generated with the resources generated for the same time period”.

The Variables of Productivity

In factories, for instance, productivity measures which are related to input factors (capital, labor, etc) are insufficient and at times could be misleading.

Input factors may not be studied while being isolated by themselves. Generally productivity improvement in a field is at the expense of the others. In addition, labor as a factor of input may be present in all stages. Moreover, management resources (another necessary factor of input) is not considered in these measures.

But the remaining of these concepts consider productivity as the relationship of input and output related to a system of production. This means that there are organizations working as physical systems with many variables as well as other inter-relations within.

The Objectives of Productivity

Experts Vrat and Sardina said that the people who will carry out measurements of productivity must have three objectives.

Firstly, potential improvements should be identified. Secondly, decisions should be made for reallocating resources. And lastly, it must present how the pre-set goals were determined.

Financial and Performance Productivity

There are some differences between two factors. Based the number of outputs produced, we can calculate performance productivity.

For instance: Company A produces 200 product units in a week, and the next week they are able to reach 220 units. That means the performance productivity has increased by 10%.

In comparison to performance productivity, financial productivity can be grouped by the value of output. Suppose Company X produces 200 product units in the one week as well as the next. And the selling price have raised from 1.00 dollar to 1.10 dollars per unit. Financial productivity has increased by 10%, however there is no increase in performance productivity.

This is sometimes misleading, too. In case the company sells products in 220 item at 1.10 dollars each, and the next week the price has fallen by 9.1%, the sale is still 220 dollars.

From a standpoint of finance, there is not any change even if there are some changes of performance point. (They produce extra 20 items)

So What the Definition of Productivity is?

Until now, managers are not able to determine what the measurements, improvements and definition of productivity. They also cannot define the measurement, improvement, concepts of performance as well.