Are you most productive on Tuesdays? Then you’re not alone, research indicates the majority of people have their most efficient day on Tuesday. Or perhaps you find Thursday to be your most productive day? Or does it change week to week? Whichever day tends to be have your highest output, most of us would like to improve our efficiency levels (and thus achieve more) every day.
Last week we wrote about the challenges (and explored tactics) for parents wanting to maintain productivity while juggling childcare duties over the school holidays. Evidence shows that multi-tasking is never ideal and if we can compartmentalise our tasks, our productivity improves. Now we’re going to take this a step further and explore key productivity tools for achieving the greatest results.
The Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle is a concept coined by the 19th Century philosopher and economist Federico Damaso Pareto. Pareto reflected on uneven distribution and noticed that in general 80 per cent of results will come from 20 per cent of the action. Also known as the 80/20 rule, the idea is that 20 per cent of your input into anything will give you 80 per cent of the output. So in sales terms, 20 per cent of customers will give you 80 per cent of profits. In business (and life) the goal is to identify the actions that are the most productive/valuable and make them the priority.
Australian entrepreneur Sabri Suby applied this principle (and an incredible work ethic) to achieve astounding growth. His digital marketing company King Kong is currently valued at $30 million. Suby who was interviewed here gave this valuable advice, “isolate the things you have to do to drive the business forward, and work like a dog on those things. Find the small hinges that swing the big doors,” he said. Adding, “one thing that is constant is that the hardest worker in the room will be a success, and my advice is you want to exercise your work ethic like a muscle – you won’t make money without hard work.”
Applying the Pareto Principle to our lives and productivity output requires us to reflect and do an audit on our actions. Ask yourself which tasks and actions are achieving the best results? Importantly, also ask which tasks and actions are detrimental to your efficiency and success. Once you’re clear on what the most effective actions to take are, it’s time for a productivity plan.
Apply the 52 and 17 rule to your day
Humans are not robots. We aren’t designed to sit for 8 hours a day working at optimal efficiency. If we do try and slug it out for such long periods like this, our mental health and wellbeing suffers AND we aren’t as productive. So how do we create a win/win scenario?
The most productive people will typically apply themselves with great focus and dedication for shorter bursts of time and then take effective breaks. Research indicates a ratio of around 52 minutes of productivity followed by a 17 minute break is highly productive. People who apply this method have an incredible ability to get things done, above and beyond the average worker without having to pull extraordinarily long working hours.
As this The Muse article highlights “concentration is like a muscle: It needs to rest to be able to function, and it shouldn’t be overworked. Otherwise it’ll simply burn out and take longer to get back into the swing of things.”
If we were to utilise the above tools, we’d see a huge increase in our efficiency and results, then no single day of the week would be our most productive.