Focus on the 1% of the Activities that Matter

You might have heard about the Pareto Principle that says 20% of the actions produce 80% of the results.

Some people take the Pareto Principle to the extreme. For example, Gary Vaynerchuk says that 99% of the things don’t matter.

The art of success is finding that 20 % or in Vaynerchuk’s case finding those 1% actions.

Think about it. You only work one day a week and yet produce the same value as you would produce if you worked four days a week. Wouldn’t you like that? That’s basically what the Pareto Principle is saying.

The problem with the Pareto Principle is that it doesn’t work for employees. Employees are paid by the time they spend at work, not by the results they produce.

As a result, employees tend to do busy work, things that keep them busy, but don’t produce any valuable results.

If you want to become an entrepreneur, you need to perfect the Pareto Principle. You need to focus on the 20% of the actions that produce the 80% of the results. You need to let go of the 80% of the actions that produce low or no value at all.

Distinguishing between high and low-value actions is an art you perfect over time.

What are the high-value actions? In my opinion, these are learning, thinking, and applying what you learned and thought. I know that that sounds too general, so let me go into more detail.

The most valuable action is to come up with a vision. This is a long-term goal like a life goal. Then, the second most valuable action is learning and thinking about how to realize your vision. And eventually, applying the ideas that you learned and came up with in your life.

Your vision acts as a compass. It helps you find the 20% of the activities that produce the 80% of the results. Which activities bring you closer to the realization of your vision? Determine them and focus on them.

Let go of all the activities that don’t contribute to your vision. They are not only a waste of your time, but they are also potentially dangerous. The things that you do just to be busy can produce liabilities down the road. And they do.

Most of the time, doing nothing is better than wasting time on busy work. When you do nothing, you give yourself the space where new ideas can bubble up. You can also use that time to learn and think of course.

Eliminating waste, including waste of time, is crucial to making the most of your life. Distractions are obvious time wasters, but busy work is also a waste of time, and more dangerous than distractions because it gives you the false impression that you’re actually doing something useful.

If you’re interested in starting your own business, I recommend reading the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. It will help you start a business by yourself or with a co-founder with limited resources.

How would your life look like if you let go of the 99% of the things that didn’t contribute to your vision and focused on the 1% that did?

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.

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