Learn to Prioritize the Important & Let Go of the Rest

Since we can’t do everything, we must learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest. Apply Pareto's 80:20 rule which is a key principle in prioritization.


80:20 refers to the phenomenon where 20% of the input accounts for 80% of the output. The remaining 20% of the output can only be achieved by putting in 80% input.


So let’s say you have a report due, and to produce the absolute best report you are capable of, you need about 100 hours. 80:20 rule says that you can get 80% of the quality in by spending 20 hours (20% of 100 hours). On the other hand, the finishing touches to boost this report from a 80% to 100% quality requires you to spend 80 hours (80% of the time). From effectiveness standpoint, that doesn’t cut it at all. 80:20 rule tells us to just get the 80% quality in and chuck the remaining 20% since the time needed doesn’t justify the increment in value we get.


So, according to the 80:20 rule, we have to let go of the nitty gritty. Forget the little details that no one but you will notice. You can keep revising something to perfection, but that time is better spent working on a whole new task. The key is to focus your energy on producing the 80% of every thing you do – which is also the 80% that matters. Draw a mental cut off limit and let go of everything that lies outside of the limit.

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