The 80/20 Principle in Practice


hamster wheelRecently, I’ve been doing major cutbacks in my work day. It started with my lead generation. I’d been putting myself through the wringer for six or seven months in an attempt at kicking my results up a notch, only to have the opposite effect. I finally had to draw a line in the sand or run the risk of burning out.

I pulled the plug completely and took a couple of weeks off the lead generation hamster wheel. The result? My incoming leads and my revenue actually increased. Was it that my energy had improved? Maybe. Was it that I was focusing more on the right things? Possibly. Either way, I wasn’t going to stop a good thing. I started cutting back in every way imaginable, and my work schedule was the next thing to take a hit.

I’m currently in the middle of a “staycation” (you know, when you take a vacation without really going anywhere), and I’m limiting my work time to two to four hours per day. Amazingly, I’m still getting roughly the same amount accomplished. Except I’m not checking my news feeds several times per day, only once for five minutes by quickly scanning the highlights, so essentially, I’m having to cut the fat from my day.

Before I started my week, I went through my planned schedule and jotted down the most important four or five tasks that should be completed by Friday. I also solicited the help of a virtual assistant to help with a lot of my regular (and necessary) tasks. Everything else got the boot.

Now, I’m actually considering making these cuts permanent. When I return from my little hiatus, I’m thinking of temporarily dropping the bottom 80 percent of the tasks I do each day and then monitoring the results for a month or so.
I should be making the best use of my time. By forcing myself to ruthlessly cut away any excess, I’m getting down to the truth of it: much of what I do each day is a complete waste of time and is absolutely unnecessary for the success of my business. I’m willing to bet the same is true for you!

How much of your daily activity is actually revenue-producing? How much of it is really necessary for your success? Is it possible that you could trim even the bottom 20% of your daily tasks and still accomplish the same results?

Photo by pocheco


Gray Forest

I think that focusing on what brings results is a smart move for anyone (and obviously what you are doing is working for you: more power to you).

I have some curiosity how the recent drive to “work less” and outsource is playing out in today’s economy. For those who are employees, delegating out tasks to others and downsizing your workload could lead to – downsizing. If you do delegate out and dump tasks, make sure that you make the case to your supervisor and company that doing so is going to allow you to be more productive, not less.

As well, be aware that many companies (or clients) may not take kindly to your outsourcing work that they thought they were paying you to do. Many companies are rather funny about wanting to know who is working for them, rather than having unseen employees that they haven’t met and evaluated.

Finally, if you are having a VA write your blogs, even in part, do the ethical thing and credit them in the byline.


Great post!

What tools, if any do you use to track your business goals?

And please share the VA service you chose.

Amber Riviere

Thanks, Claude. I like for tracking my goals. I upload images to serve as a “dream board” and create checklists to move me forward with my plans. It’s really helpful, organized, and inexpensive. For the VA, I use or (run by same person), but I’ve also referred clients to without complaint. Hope it helps!


OK, we need a good WWD article on virtual assistants… Anybody?

Amber Riviere

LesArts – I’ll write one now! Thanks for the recommendation. I was just wondering what I’d write about next. Stay tuned.

Amber Riviere

Thanks, Martin. As I mentioned to Liz, I use or (run by same person), but I’ve also referred clients to without complaint.


I like this idea… I’m always striving for the less is more principle in my work.

Curious to know what company (or individual) you’ve had success with as a VA – I’m trying to jump into that boat myself but there’s waaaaaay too many options.

Amber Riviere

Hi Liz,

I use a VA/ghostwriter ( or – run by same person) to help me with my blogs and newsletter articles. While I still have to do a bit of polishing, it’s well worth the expense, since it gives me a start to the articles. All I have to do is a bit of editing and then publish, and the rates are very reasonable.

Another company that I’ve referred clients to is, and their rates seem to be reasonable as well. I have not personally tried their service, but I’ve also not heard any complaints from my clients.

Hope it helps!

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