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:
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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