It feels like there are a million things coming at you, and they all have to be taken care of by you. They could be work related, family related, or some other kind of related, but now there are so many that you’re having trouble sleeping. You toss and turn in your bed while all the things you have to get done toss and turn in your head. You wake up tired, wondering for one fleeting second what it might feel like to start the day feeling good, but as you climb out of bed, the demands of the day take over.
And what will you do tomorrow? My guess is that you’ll wash, rinse, and repeat.
I want to fill you in on a secret too many people learn to appreciate way too late in life. A vast majority of what you do is an absolute waste of time—your most precious and valuable resource. Time is not a commodity. Once it’s gone, there’s no buying or selling strategy that can replace it. There is no amount of money, fame, social status, or recognition that can suddenly produce an extra hour, day, or week.
On some level, we understand this and yet we still do things we know aren’t going to get us anywhere in the long run; like trying to impress the boss with how great we are, or getting the boss to openly acknowledge that we’re doing good work simply because we feel the need for a pat on the back.
Maybe promises have been made and now we’re in so deep that the idea of changing course is too frightening to seriously consider. Instead, we dig in deeper while trying to convince ourselves that everything will work out, and “It will all be worth it in the end.” I’m sure those were somebody’s famous last words.
The solution? Remind yourself of the 80/20 principle:
80% of your outcomes come from 20% of your inputsThat means:
20% of your relationships provide you with 80% of your joy. Decide which of your relationships comprise the 20% and start the process of stepping away from the rest. The difference between the two groups of people is easy to discern. The 20% lift you up while the 80% bring you down.
20% of your efforts at work will account for 80% of your results. Skip the meetings, reports, and customers that interfere with the 20% of your work that produces efficient and tangible results. You might be challenged at first, but if you’re truly narrowing your business down to the top 20, the results of your actions should speak for themselves.
20% of your investments give you 80% of your return. Is there a way to be more proactive with the less than stellar remaining 80%?
I could go on and on about all the ways applying this principle could change your life for the better, but I’d rather stop while this post still falls in the top 20%. So, the next time you’re starting to feel the stress of all those “things” coming at you, put aside a few minutes to take a good look at them and decide if they fit within your 80/20 profile. It shouldn’t take you anywhere near as long as it would if you were trying to do it while you’re sleeping.
Alan Luoma: I am a Sales Coach with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, new product development, sales and product training. I work with a great national sustainable packaging company and their distributors to increase sales. I have become an expert on seeking out and on eliminating behaviors that prevent sales people from being successful. I enjoy uncovering sales prevention departments that hinder a companies success. I am a member of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network, The National Speakers Association and New England Speakers Association. You can view my profile on LinkedIn, or contact me at Luoma@snet.net