What is the ONE thing that’s robbing you of your time?

80/20 © Bruce Hoag, PhD
© Bruce Hoag, PhD

I never get tired of talking about 80/20.

Fundamentally, it means that 80% of your output comes from 20% of your input.

If you always come back to that, then you can be sure that you’re using the ratio correctly.

Output comes from input.

Some people get this confused, and I don’t want you to be one of them.

Vilfred Pareto, an Italian economist of the late 19thC and early 20thC first described the law or principle.

Of course, it was always true. It’s just that no one, as far as we know, ever told enough other people for it to catch on.

The principle can be applied to all manner of things.

For example, 20% of the world population holds 80% of the wealth available. Actually, it’s much more extreme than that. It’s more like 5% of the population holding 95% of the wealth. But 80/20 is easier to remember than all of the possible variations.

80% of your expenses are the result of 20% of your bills.

The best book on the subject is Richard Koch’s 80/20 Principle. I recommend that you get it.


Pareto’s Law vs. Parkinson’s Law

You may have heard of Parkinson’s Law, which says that work will expand to fill the time available. But you can defy that law.

All you have to do is figure out which 20% of your activities will give you 80% of your results.

I’ll make it easier for you.


A few calculations

If you take 80% of the 80%, then you get 64%. And then if you take 20% of the 20%, then you get 4%.

That means that just 4% of what you do will give you 64% of your results.

So the question really is, what 4% of everything you do gives you nearly 2/3 of your results?

Let’s take it one more step.

80% of 64% is 51%. And 20% of 4% is less than one!

That means that there is ONE thing that you do that gives you more than half of your results every time you do it!

Start by thinking about your results.

What one thing happens in your day that represents your biggest achievement?


Some more calculations

The opposite is true as well.

80% of your activities give you only 20% of your results. Talk about wasting time!

64% of your activities contribute to only 4% of your your results.

It gets worse.

More than half of what you do gives you almost no results at all.


What do you spend so much time on that consistently gives you no return?

Email is probably the worst offender. You can spend a whole day clearing out your inbox and have absolutely nothing to show for it at the end of the day.

Social networking is another one. Facebook is the big one; but you can waste a colossal amount of time on sites such as YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

There’s another time waster, and I’ll be you’re not even aware of just how significant it is.


Every time . . . (there are not exceptions) . . . every time you’re interrupted, it takes about 20 minutes to get back to where you were before it happened.

That means that if you’re going to get anything accomplished at all, you need to prevent them before they even begin.


Let’s go back to email.

How could you prevent yourself from being interrupted by it?

By not opening your inbox in the first place.

You also need to switch off the “feature” that tells you when a new message has come in.

There probably isn’t anything that is so important that you need to look in your inbox to learn about it.

If it truly is an emergency, then you’ll be called on your mobile phone. And by the way, when you’re working, put your phone on vibrate only. It will make just enough noise for you to see if it’s worth answering, without breaking your concentration.

How do you decide if it’s worth answering? If it’s an emergency.


What about social networking? The best time to do it is about an hour and a half before you go to bed. That’ll give you an hour to surf, and a half an hour to wind down for the night.

If you get started on it first thing in the morning, it’ll be lunchtime before you know it.


One distraction is all it takes to blow half of your day.

What is the one that is robbing you of your time?


  • great post – but I disagree with you on a few things.

    Since you’re helping people create on-line information business, I think it’s important to share my thoughts….

    a) FB is not the issue, not understanding HOW to EFFECTIVELY leverage your time on FB is the issue… Facebook is probably one of the most phenomenal ways known to man to get traction FAST and sales too if you know what you’re doing… which most don’t and

    b) the best time to be social networking is when your audience is on-line….

    again, if you know what you’re doing… otherwise I know first hand, that people can confuse their time ‘on-line’ with productivity ‘on-line’ and then most people are not getting the results from social media or on-line marketing because they actually don’t understand marketing and think that just because they are ‘on-line’ something should magically happen for them.

    other than that though… great read!

    • Thanks for your comments, Kat.

      You’re absolutely right!

      You must know exactly what you’re doing when you visit social networking sites such as Facebook. The problem is that not many people do. That’s why they’re so unproductive.

      I probably should have made the more clear.

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