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Success by Focusing on High Value Tasks (Pareto Principle)

One of the hardest things to come to terms with is that there is not enough time to do everything. With a million things that need to get done, it's hard some times to determine what needs to be done and what's garbage. Success lies in focusing on the High Value Tasks. By focusing on quadrants you can help weed out some of the distractions of urgent but not important tasks, but sometimes even your "important" list will be long.  This is where using the Pareto Principle, or "the law of the vital few" can come in handy . Also known as the "80/20 Rule" the Pareto principle focuses on those few things that give you the most value. The principle, which was developed by an Italian economist,  was orignally observed to be true in relation to income, but has also been found to be true in things as disparate as software bugs and computer graphics.

High Value Tasks

To apply the 80/20 rule when managing tasks take the following steps:

  1. Review your important items on your to do list
  2. Determine which give you the greatest value from their completion (HVT)
  3. Do those tasks first

As Tim Ferris points out inThe 4-Hour Workweek using the Pareto Principle is about effectiveness, not efficiency. That is, you eliminate tasks that don't give you the most value. If a non-HVT must absolutely, positively, cannot be eliminated, at least slow down how often you have to do them, and increase your efficiency in doing them, so that you can spend the largest amount of time focusing on the HVT's.

How do you use High Value Tasks?  What's your metric for determining if something is a HVT?

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