Time is money.

I’m sure we’ve all heard this one before, and those of us that get paid by the hour understand it on a very real, very tangible basis.

But the thing is, it’s not very different for everybody else.

Sure, you may have a fixed monthly salary, but what about the other areas of your life? Could your relationships benefit from a little more time? Could you advance your career with a little bit of effort spent in the right direction? Could you finally achieve that dream, that goal?

The answer is a resounding YES!

That raises the question, how can we make the most “money” out of our time? How can we reap the most benefit from the effort we put into our lives? How can we get the time to pursue the things we truly want?

Prioritization. That’s how you do it.

You already have the time, you just need to figure out how to use it to your advantage.

Wikipedia defines prioritization as “the activity that arranges items or activities in order of importance relative to each other.”

In other words, what should I do first, if at all?

In a bid to bring order to the chaos that is life and achieve success in the areas that truly mean the most to us, here are some principles of prioritization for your consideration.

The Pareto Principle or The Law Of The Vital Few.

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

This means that for most situations, if you can identify the root cause and focus your efforts on fixing that, you will inevitably solve a comparably larger amount of resultant problems.

Not only is this principle liberating because it suggests that we can significantly cut back on our workload, it also forces us to bear down on what really matters.

For instance, if you felt the need to improve on the quality of your social life, would it be more beneficial to make a lot of new acquaintances, or focus on spending more time with the few best friends you already have?

As appealing as a new slate might seem, the same amount of time spent building a new friendship will almost always yield less fulfilling results than figuring out how to spend more time with your old friends with whom you already have a wealth of history, memories, understanding and trust to work with.

One will most likely revolve around small talk and figuring out how to connect with each other, where as the other would mean spending time doing the things you already know you love, and/ or talking about real life issues and solving problems close to your heart.

The Eisenhower Method.

In a 1954 speech to the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was quoting Dr J. Roscoe Miller, president of Northwestern University, said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

According to this logic, the urgent problems are the ones that come with time constraints, and the important ones will move your life forward and get you closer to achieving your long term goals.

Imagine if you had to choose between a phone call with a disgruntled client or one scheduling a future meeting with a potential investor, which would you give first priority?

This principle urges us to stop and reconsider the effect that our actions will have in the grand scheme of things. When weighing your tasks or responsibilities, do it according to the list below:

  1. URGENT and IMPORTANT
  2. IMPORTANT but not URGENT
  3. URGENT but not IMPORTANT
  4. Not URGENT and not IMPORTANT

As you can see, options 3 and 4 can be rescheduled or scrapped altogether, to create more time for options 1 and 2.

Parkinson’s Law.

“It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

How many of us have completed an assignment in record time simply because the deadline was looming?

That last minute rash of adrenaline has been known to spark creativity, and you can use it to your advantage! Simply decide how much time you’ll spend on a given activity and hold yourself accountable to that deadline. You may not always finish everything you set out to do, but you most likely will do a good amount of work.

Allocating time and setting deadlines for ourselves also diminishes the propensity for perfectionism.

It’s been said that doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will, and perfectionism is just doubt dressed in work clothes, right?

All the time and effort that you would normally spend double checking and triple checking finished tasks could be spent on something more meaningful.

Eat The Frog.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Mark Twain.

Simply put, this means that once you’ve figured out which tasks are the most beneficial to accomplish and decided how much time is adequate for each, the next thing is to put the hardest ones or the ones that scare you the most at the top of the list.

Doing this will ensure that you give your best energies to the hardest tasks, and accomplishing these will set the tone for the rest of the day as you will eliminate the dread that comes with procrastination and replace it with the joy of accomplishment.


Sources:

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

Business Insider http://www.businessinsider.com/dwight-eisenhower-nailed-a-major-insight-about-productivity-2014-4?IR=T

Mind Tools Website https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_91.htm

The Economist https://www.economist.com/node/14116121

The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/31/work-shrinks-fit-time-available-parkinsons-law-productivity

Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2014/06/25/for-entrepreneurial-success-eat-a-live-frog-every-morning/#56e2123f8861

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