Do best what matters most!

80% of your results comes from 20% of your efforts.

The Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule, has been enshrined in the memorial of productivity axioms as well as in our heads. There’s a second version, created by Jay Arthur, the 4/50 rule:

arthur rule.001.png

A full 50% of your results comes from a core 4% of your efforts.

The point of the 4/50 rule is to emphasize that there are certain fundamental things you do that deliver significant benefit, while everything else builds atop that foundation. The question is, which 50% of your results is it, and what efforts are in the 4%?

How will we find out the answer? Start at the end, with your KPIs. What things, what numbers really matter? (if you’re unfamiliar with KPIs, read this first) What are the handful of numbers that, if they go to zero, you lose everything?

Take a step back. What are the primary activities you perform that feed into those KPIs?

Lead generation is a marketing example. If your leads go to zero, you go out of business. What feeds your leads? For this website, it’s all about organic search. If I don’t write great content and get it shared, I don’t get organic traffic, and my leads go to zero.

Weight loss is a non-marketing example. If your calorie intake exceeds your calorie expenditure, then your weight loss goes to zero (or negative!). The core activities to focus on are what you eat and how much energy you expend.

What do you do with that information? Now that you know what’s inside the 4%, what’s the next step? Focus relentlessly on the 4%. Move everything else out of the way until you deliver excellence in the 4% first. Optimize and improve anything in the 4%. If you’ve got tough choices about what to do on a daily basis to be more productive, dig around for additional efficiencies in that 4%.

Relentless, uncompromising focus on the 4% it will help you move the ball down the field towards your goals faster than anything else you can do.

Do best what matters most!

What’s in your 4%?


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How to manage workflow with sticky notes

On Twitter, Ana Canhoto asked about the stickies on the wall near my desk:

Ana_Isabel_Canhoto_on_Twitter____cspenn_curious_about_the_post-it’s_on_wall__Is_that_a_planning_system__How_does_it_work__Thanks__

Indeed it is. I recorded a short video explaining it:

Try it out for yourself. It just takes some sticky notes and masking tape to get set up. No expensive system, no gear to buy, just a wall and some tape!


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Before you start your 2015 marketing

Clean Up or You're Out! :Brooklyn Street Sign

Before you start your 2015 marketing, take a few minutes today to do some mise en place, a French cooking term for “everything in its place”.

Get out a notebook and write down all of the ideas that have bubbled up over the holidays. Lots of things coalesced – capture them now before the daily grind obliterates them from memory. You might have thought of the next big thing, but you’ll lose it quickly once routine begins.

Clear out your inbox. Archive 2014. Go ahead, you won’t miss it, and if you do, you can just search the archive.

Unfollow and unfriend the people on social media who are focus vampires. This year, you’re going to need as much focus and discipline as possible. The hardest will be people who you passionately agree with but are distracting nonetheless, like the friend who always posts political stories in your alignment. You agree, you believe what they believe, but their content gets you riled up and distracted. Unfollow them or mute them, or even consider setting up a separate leisure account.

Finally, change your mental diet. Lots of people enter the year on a new physical diet (with varying degrees of efficacy). Change your mental diet by removing blogs that no longer provide useful information to you and seeking out 5-10 new ones. The nice thing about a mental diet change is that it’s easier to stick to. You remove what doesn’t serve you any more and add what does – and rarely, if ever, do you look back.

May 2015 be the year in which you achieve the breakthroughs you’ve been looking for!


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