Select Page

Manage Your Time the Pareto Way

by | Mar 5, 2023 | Productivity

Time is our most precious resource as unlike just about everything else, you can’t get it back once it’s gone. You can’t turn back the clock and do yesterday again differently. I remember reading a book called How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett. The book itself is quite an old classic from 1908, but its core tenets of efficient use of your time still apply even though it’s now more than 100 years old. Granted, my favourite part of the book is its title and its discussion of how some people act (and spend their time) as if there were more than 24 hours in a day, meaning that they waste a lot of their time doing tasks which don’t lead to their or their family’s self-improvement.

The Pareto Rule is the idea that 80% of the outputs come from only 20% of the inputs. Put differently, 4/5 of your success comes from 1/5 of your time. This is often used to justify the business concept of “firing” bad clients. As 20% of a business’ clients account for 80% of its sales, it doesn’t make sense to service the particular small clients who have a knack for being much more aggravation than they are worth, as doing so is using time which can be better spent getting more sales from your best clients (top 20%). Put simply, your time needs to be allocated to tasks which yield the highest return. Tim Ferriss really dives into the topics of firing clients in his fantastic book aptly titled The 4-Hour Workweek since if you’re going to work a minimum number of hours, you need to use your time efficiently.

On that topic, your time management goal needs to be to allocate your time to your highest value tasks. Figuring out what your highest value task is all the easier to figure out in a business environment where you have clear result metrics and statistics at your disposal. Especially when starting a business, the desire is often to do everything in that business. In theory, there is nothing wrong with that approach, at least at the very start, as when you do everything, you understand everything. However, as your business grows, your goal needs to be to focus your time as soon as possible on your highest-value tasks. Above your metrics, you can figure out this highest value task by identifying your business’ edge over its competitors. If your edge is that you are better at generating leads, focus your time working on your lead generation, likely your website and your newsletter. If your edge is a superior product, work on improving that product or letting people know about the superior points of your product. If it’s your marketing, focus on your marketing. You get the picture.

Essentially, focus your time on your highest value tasks and delegate away the rest. Or, the new alternative, automate the rest. Yes, software which automates tasks has a cost (and sometimes quite a steep one), but using it freezes up your time for it to be used more efficiently. Also, if you can train someone to do that task and pay them minimum wage (or somewhere around it), that is not a task you should be devoting your time to.

I employ the Pareto Rule all the time working on my businesses as since these businesses are side businesses, I never have enough time to do everything I would like for each of them. So, how do I spend that little time I have, I focus it on my highest value tasks and automate the rest. Enjoy.

Matthew Meland

Matthew Meland

Lawyer at FFMP, entrepreneur, blogger

As a lawyer with a diversified civil and commercial law practice, I often work with start-ups and small businesses. On the side, I am involved in several businesses from education services to high-tech.


to never miss a post.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *