One of the causes of stress is confusion.
A lack of clarity, a lack of priorities and a lack of direction can create confusion. This confusion causes us to stop thinking straight, shutting down some of the higher functions of the brain and leaving us to cope with our survival mechanisms. Working from a familiar habitual manner in a way that probably hasn’t given you positive results.
So what is the remedy?
The remedy is to get clarity to prioritise and to set clear goals that can be followed and measured. So if you are feeling stressed and your brain can’t think straight start by doing an exercise to help you prioritise.
What are your Vital Few?
The Pareto Principal or the 80/20 rule is widely used in business and sales, where the sales experts have observed that 80% of Revenue comes from 20% of their clients and 20% of Product ranges tend to give 80% of profits. When it comes to the world of Productivity we can often see that 20% of what we do gives us 80% of our results.
A long time ago an Italian Economist by the name of Alfredo Pareto observed that 20% of Italy’s population held 80% of the wealth. Intrigued by this discovery he went on to look at other economies and found similar distributions of wealth.
It wasn’t until the sixties that a Quality Expert by the name of Juran took this principal and applied it Quality Control. He observed that 20% of products caused 80% of defects. It was he who coined the principal after Pareto.
Before Juran coined this as the Pareto Principal he first called it The Law of the Vital Few and the Unimportant many. As we can see when we analyse what we do each day, a lot of what we do is trivial. We spend hours each day replying to emails, sitting in meetings, trawling through social media sites.
The reality is that a lot of what we spend our time on is not adding value to the bottom line. We can pimp up our website but if we have no clients what is the use? All of these administrative tasks or supporting roles are not paying the wages! Juran also realised that although the unimportant many were just that, unimportant, they were tasks that need to be done but just demoted to lesser priority!
Focus on the 20%
So how do we know what our 20% is? What tasks are your value adding tasks? which ones bring in revenue?
It’s easier than you think. Get a pen and paper, and write down the top 10 tasks you do each day. Then put a percentage on how long you spend on each task. Then from those 10, pick the two tasks that really matter. The top two tasks that mean you have a job, what do you see? Are you spending enough time on the right things?
When you clear about your priorities you can then schedule them. Plan your priorities for the next month and schedule time for them. When you break down the work you need to do and schedule it, it takes away any feeling of overwhelm or confusion.
You are now clear to move forward the right way.
Ciara Conlon is a High Performance Leadership Coach, Speaker and co-founder of Spirit Leadership. She is the author of three books, her most recent publication Rise Before Your Bull and other Habits of Successful People is available here
If you want to find out more about how we can help you or your team gain clarity and increase performance and productivity, get in touch via our contact page.