Time Management: Make More Money With the 80/20 Principle

By figuring out which activities bring in the most revenue, you can boost your sales and be more successful.

April 1, 2005

Does thinking of higher productivity make you tired? Do you feel like you’re already working as hard as you can? Does more, harder, faster sound like a recipe for burnout? Then it’s time to regroup. You have the same hours in the day as those who are mega-producers and sales superstars, so why aren’t you achieving the same results? Where does all your time go?

It’s time to stop trying to manage time and concentrate on managing yourself. Time isn’t the problem—it’s your management of it that is. So you need to start using your time more wisely. Following are some practical ways to do that so that you, too, can start racking up sales and increase your success.

Apply the 80/20 Rule

A variation of the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, says that 80 percent of your results are created by 20 percent of your efforts. Apply this principle to your daily tasks by determining which 20 percent contributes to your success and your bottom line. Take these concrete steps:

  1. Know your hourly worth.
  2. Determine which of your activities and contacts produce the most impact.
  3. Determine what is essential and non-essential; what you can delegate and what you can’t.
  4. Take control and prioritize what you do by first focusing on the highest payoff tasks.

An important step in determining your worth is to examine last year’s numbers to see where your business came from. Then budget your time and money to what is already working. For every job that you can delegate, you are buying back an hour of your time. Spend that hour on higher-productivity activities that will bring in more sales.

Create a Productive Schedule

Create a weekly calendar with one “peak-performance day” where 80 percent of your activities are “dollar productive”—that is, these activities help you close more transactions. By compressing this into one day, it’s like the day before vacation when you are extremely focused and intentional. You prioritize, get in the flow, and things begin to happen serendipitously. Salespeople who try to prospect daily spend at least 10 to 15 minutes getting ready for each session. Then, they prospect for an hour or so. Instead, if they spent three to four hours prospecting in one day, they’d gain more than an hour of “getting ready” time each week and find the calls are more productive.

Dollar-productive activities include:

  • Taking listings
  • Negotiating
  • Prospecting
  • Networking

Next, drop the bottom 20 percent of your activities. You’ll see almost no difference in your service and productivity but will free up time to spend on dollar-productive activities.

Two Tools to Make It Happen

  1. A written plan: Make time weekly to work on your business plan and daily to prioritize the most important areas.The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber is good reading for tips on how to have a successful small business and increase your sales.
  2. Systems: Everything that you do more than once can be defined by a series of action steps that ensure consistency. Decide which steps are the best uses of your time and which can be delegated. The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller is a useful book to help you do this.

Know Your Priorities

Everyone defines success differently. Your perfect life and core values are unique to you. Base your daily priorities on your values and passions, and the best use of your time becomes more obvious. One of my favorite coaching clients created a theme one year: “To Have Joy.” By measuring her activities and the people she worked with against this theme, she could eliminate what didn’t fit. She’d let go of a toxic client to make space for a good one. Your short- and long-term goals should be more than a production number to truly motivate you to succeed. Include in your goals the people and things that are most important to you, time to enjoy each day, and activities that refresh and rejuvenate you.

Joeann Fossland is a Cortaro, Ariz.-based a national speaker and certified coach who helps clients succeed in business. She can be reached at joeann@joeann.com.