The Pareto Principle says that 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. We can use the PAreto Principle to manage our time and focus on the things on our task list that would end up making a difference.
Harvard Business Review notes: practically everything is unimportant. And the Pareto Principle has been applied to everything that we've done before, from software development to investing. For example, 90% of Warrne Buffet's wealth is from ten investments, and in sales, typically 80% of revene comes from 20% of the sales team. Which makes a lot of sense.
So to increase our productivity, we may be able to cut the 80% of our tasks or projects that are unimportant that don't contribute to the end goals with the law of the vital few.
HBR suggests writing down your top six priorities of the day—and then crossing out the bottom five. Work on the top one for 90-minutes first thing in the morning. Every time you're about to waste time on things like Twitter or checking email, write down what you are about to do (to stop you in your tracks).
If you have trouble prioritizing your tasks, the Inc. business blog suggests another strategy:
When you make a "to do" list, prioritize each item by the amount of effort required (1 to 10, with 1 being the least amount of effort) and the potential positive results (1 to 10, with 10 being the highest impact.)
Now divide the potential results by the amount of effort to get a "priority" ranking. Do the items with the lowest resulting priority number first. Here's a simple example:
Task 1: Write report on trip meeting. Effort=10, Result=2, Priority=5 Task 2: Prepare presentation for marketing. Effort=4, Result=4, Priority=1 Task 3: Call current customer about referral. Effort=1, Result=10, Priority=0.1 See your new priority-based order? You do Task 3 first, Task 2 second, and Task 1 last–if at all.