Productivity: How to Achieve More /w Less Effort – The Pareto Principle
Do you know why I’m so obsessed with productivity?
It’s because I’m lazy. Seriously. I wanna know how I can achieve the most results, with the least amount of effort involved.
And what’s the biggest waste of energy?
Working on things that don’t make much of an impact on your goals. Sounds like common sense right? Yet I guarantee you’re wasting time on the little tactics that don’t matter.
Everyone prides themselves on being “busy”, but being busy doesn’t mean you’re productive. If you did 10 hours of meetings today you’re busy, but if those meetings don’t move you towards your goals then you wasted 10 hours.
There’s a huge difference between working…and working on the right things.
Here’s the formula I developed to help me out:
Find the 80 / 20 behavior of any goal, triple down on it.
*80 / 20 refers to the Pareto principle. It means 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. Instead of wasting our time trying to do everything, just work on what makes the most impact.
I first heard of this rule from Tim Ferris’s classic “The Four Hour Work Week.” His business has so many customers, and he realized that not all of them are created equal. There were clients who took up so much time, but barely brought in any revenue. He noticed 80% of his revenue came from 20% of his clients. He decided to “fire” all his bad clients and focus on the good ones.
His income went up, and headaches went down.
That’s what the pareto principle means. Not only do you have to find that 20% that makes the difference, but I want you to put in 3x more effort into it.
Four Examples of The Pareto Principle From my Life:
1. Affiliate Marketing Campaigns
I help companies find customers on the internet. There are tons of actions involved with this: developing ads, landing pages, changing bids, and more.
I realized the most important part of my business is finding the right offers (companies) to work with. I’ve had so many profitable campaigns die because the offer I was working with was no longer available.
That’s when I realized the 80 / 20 is finding / testing good offers. The rest of my funnel doesn’t matter if I don’t have a great offer.
The next step is to triple down on offers. This means making sure our partners are always watching out for the best offers, and us making the best effort to get great offers exclusive.
That makes much more of a difference compared to changing the headline on a website.
2. Growing my Blog
A few months ago I was changing around some colors on CharlesNgo.com. I have no idea what was going through my mind. I guess I thought, “Hey first impressions matter, let me make sure my site’s as pretty as possible!”
But then I had to ask myself, is that the 80 / 20? Do people truly care? Not really. They come to my website for information and value. Maybe if I was a fashion or design blog it’d matter, but not for what I do.
The 80 / 20 of a blog is collecting email addresses from everyone, and delivering value to the email list. I spent some time thinking about how I can improve my opt-ins, and now I make sure to send you guys value every week in your email.
The difference? I’m accomplishing the goal which is to deliver value to my readers.
3. Gaining Muscle
What do skinny guys wanna know when they build muscle? 95% it’s going to be what’s the best workout, and what supplements should they take.
I know this because I weighed 110lbs when I graduated high school. I kept thinking there was some kind of secret sauce to building muscle. I heard from people that it’s all about the diet, but I didn’t wanna work on it. Why? Because it’s not as fun as trying out a new workout routine.
But you know what’s the biggest waste of time? Spending a year working out and not getting any results. All those hours I put in the gym didn’t matter, and neither did the hundreds of dollars I spent on supplements.
The 80 / 20 is your diet. It’s not your workout routine or what supplements you take. It’s making sure your diet’s on point.
Just find a workout routine / supplements good enough, and show up to the gym regularly.
Now I had to triple down on the diet. This meant I studied the proper diet, I counted my macros each day using MyFitnessPal.com, and it meant preparing my meals ahead of time.
Was it fun? Not really. Did it get results? You bet.
And results is what matters.
4. Analyzing my Day
I discovered the 80 / 20 of how my day goes is how I start my morning routine.
I can’t have a productive day if I didn’t have a proper rest. I can’t focus for the next 12 hours if I started the day off surfing the internet.
Now I wake up:
Drink 16oz water
Go for a 15 minute morning run with my dog
5 minutes cold shower
10 minutes meditation
Drink coffee *I skip breakfast these days
I’ve optimized my morning routine to the minute.
I’ve had a morning routine for 7+ years and I’m STILL optimizing it.
I’m not so concerned with the rest of the day, because I know it’ll be fine as long as I start my day off great.
(Add me on Snapchat: Charles_Ngo if you wanna see my routine videos)
The 80 / 20 is Hard Work
The 80 / 20 work is NOT sexy at all.
I know working on the fundamentals over and over again can be boring, but that’s how you ake progress. We wanna mess with these “silver bullets”, but they don’t mean much. They’re distractions.
Does the “best” yoga routine matter if you’re not showing up to practice regularly? Then focus your energy on figuring out how to go to class more consistently.
If you’re creating a new product, it’s all about selling / marketing. Everyone wants to work on cool things like the design and the website…but does it matter if you end up with zero customers because you’re horrible at selling?
We operate in a world of constraints.
We can’t do everything. There’s not enough time, people, energy, or money. That’s why you always have to ask yourself, what activity will make the most impact.