Many of you will have heard of the 80/20 rule in its various forms.  One example of this is that we unfortunately spend 80% of our time on tasks and activities that only deliver 20% of our results.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself to refocus your time, resources and energy:

  • What must I or my business start doing that we are not doing at the moment?
  • What must I or my business stop doing as it is clearly adding limited value?
  • What must I or my business start doing more of which could improve results further?
  • What must I or my business start doing less of as it is not a valuable use of time, energy and resources?

This approach needs us to be honest with ourselves and potentially consult others to face up to the hard truth.

Reducing or ceasing our efforts in an area might simply mean that this can be delegated to someone else or outsourced.  But it also may mean being totally ruthless and cutting it out.  They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results!  Well there are many people and businesses that are stuck in ways of working that, when they stand back and reflect, are not delivering the results that they want or need.

The personal development guru Brian Tracey came up with the concept of “Zero Based Thinking”.  In this you need to ask yourself the question:

  • “Knowing what I know now, would I start this specific activity?”

Apply this to areas of your life and work (big and small) and be ruthless.

This again requires you to face up to the truth, take responsibility and focus on making some key changes. By paying attention to specific areas you will make improvements and get results

The key to all of this is in developing new and effective habits.  

In ensuring we are doing the right things to achieve success, it is my belief that habits are the cornerstone of this. Whether this is in relation to our use of our sales, time management, business planning and strategy, improving the treatment of our people or customer service, habits are the key to us running effectively on “autopilot”.

It is widely recognised that it takes 21 days for a new habit to become embedded in our ongoing behaviour.  Firstly we must identify the habits that we wish to instill in priority sequence. This leads on from asking ourselves the key questions highlighted earlier.

Once we know what we would like to change and how, we can set about planning to make sure the changes happen and that we focus on these higher-value activities. 

This means planning to do these and then reviewing (preferably on a daily basis) what happened.  Some believe that we should only introduce one new habit at a time, but it is my belief that with close planning and monitoring, this can be increased to 3 or 4 new habits. But why not start with the most important new habit you have identified.  Once you have embedded this within your working practices, then you can move forwards with further changes.  

It is also vital to keep things as straightforward as possible. 

So if you wish to make a change in the way you are using your time for example, try and break any changes down to manageable chunks.  Maybe a first step would be to develop a habit of only reviewing emails 2 or 3 times each day, rather than being a slave to email! 

Try picking one area you would like to make changes.  Pick one habit you believe will be effective and make sure it is in place by 21 days time.