80/20 Principle and Parkinson’s Law

80/20 Principle and Parkinson’s Law

We are constantly bombarded with distractions at work.  From blips and bleeps of emails, tweets and texts…it’s easy to wander astray throughout the day.

On top of this we have fingertip access to all of the entertainment, news, people and information in the world; thus providing further allurement into non-productivity.

It’s harder than ever to stay on task and be productive.  And even if we “do” alot with our busyness, are we even getting the right things done?

“Parkinson’s Law”, the concept introduced by the astute Brit Cyril Parkinson,  could be generalized  by saying the demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource.   Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.   If you have all day to complete a task, there is a force that will pull you unconsciously into a daylong endeavor to complete that one task.   And, if you don’t frequently remind yourself what your tasks/goals are, you will never get anything of value done.

80 20 Example Productivity Effectiveness Internet Web Marketing
My seasoned whiteboard constantly referred through during the workday.

80/20 Principle – Ever heard of the Book The 4hr Workweek by Tim Ferris?  Is that even possible?  Yes it is.   For many, 80% of the time is used on non-essential or effective tasks.   The other 20% give you 80% of the payback.  It’s doing more with less, rooting out the busywork and nuzzling up to the activities that generate the most, have the biggest payoff.    So if you work 20hrs a week, it’s likely that 80% of that is ineffective or unnecessary work.   The other 20%, or 4 hours is spent on the productive activity.   The 4hr workweek is just an idea, or conscious shifting contemplation point getting you to see if you can apply the 80/20 principle to your life.

Techniques for applying the 80/20:

-Try working only 2 hours for a series of days, or taking 1/2 days for a week.   Before work, spend some time planning and you’ll quickly see what’s really important.  The useless tasks will be crystal clear, or they will resolve themselves.

At the very least, reduce your workday hours for a a few days and see what happens.


This can revolutionize your business, work and personal life.  Imagine working 20% of the time, or supercharging your effectiveness by working 100% of the time, but on the super effective and important tasks(the 20% that bring in 80% of the money).

I would rather be off work, hanging out in the California sunshine, than taking innumerable breaks checking email, responding to FB and reading up on my sports teams.  This is all day filler, that gives the illusion I am working by being at work.    Shorten the workday.

Staying on Task –  I’ve heard good things about the Pomodoro time management system.  It breaks work into 25 minute segments, allowing for 5 minute breaks in between.  After 4 work segments are completed, you earn a longer break.  There’s an app for that, as well as a website.

So step it up past the  low-grade feelings of accomplishment attained from say,  responding to everyone in your inbox.  What about finishing those top 3 tasks on your list, the most important 20% of tasks of the day, those which deep-down you know are important and will give you a much higher sense of achievement once finished.

BTW, I had to stop myself from getting up for food during the writing of this post…I’m glad I can take my own advice once and a while.

So, tell me right here, what are the 3 things you want to get done today?

by Jason Jelonek

Leave a Reply

Close Menu