When being productive, it's more about quality than it is quantity. It means trimming the fat and taking the actions that count the most. Using the 80/20 rule is a big proponent to beingproductive.

The 80/20 rule says that 20% of your actions create 80% of your results. When I worked as a Consultant I started putting in 20 hour work weeks. This was more than enough time for me to produce the same results I created previously in a 40 hour work week. The way I did this is by trimming the fat and taking action on what mattered the most - effective actions.

This meant taking 20% of the actions that were creating 80% of my results. Effective action creates effective results - big time. That's the basis of the 80/20 rule on productivity.

It sounds straightforward, right?

Well it is - it's not rocket science, but the problem is that most people don't follow this rule. They know that it works, but they're still not using it!


Here are 6 reasons why a great number of people are not more productive when using the 80/20 rule:

  1. Fear of failure
    There is an element of failure built-in when taking effective action. Most people will avoid taking actions that have any element of failure built into them. They would rather not risk being a failure - because failing once would mean that they are a failure - and that is completely untrue; which reminds me of a quote by Micheal Jordan:

    I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.

    If Michael Jordan can take effective action without being a failure, then so can you.

  2. You don't get out of your comfort zone.
    I guess being an entrepreneur has it's benefits because I'm almost always in a state of being uncomfortable. If I get too comfortable, I fall asleep. That's why I left my job - for the most part is was so boring. But there were those moments when I stepped it up a notch and got uncomfortable. I remember this one time I was completely annoyed with my boss. He was always late or a no-show for meetings. I went into his office and asked if I could speak with him. I was extremely nervous, but I started the conversation anyway. At one point I said to him, When you show up late to meetings or don't show up at all, it tells me that wherever you are is more important than being in that meeting. The next day we had another meeting and he showed up on time.
  3. You're attached.
    When you take effective action you're not attached to the end result, you're committed - you make it work. Here's the difference. Being attached to the end result means the process must look a certain way. It's got to happen the way you think it's going to happen. There are steps involved and it MUST BE DONE this way. That's a clear sign of attachment. Being committed is quite different.When you're committed you act effectively with the end in mind. You could care less of how it happens or what it looks like. You just know that you're going to find a way to make it happen and are open to possibilities. It doesn't have to look a certain way, instead you adjust your actions and thought processes along the way.
  4. You haven't made, effective action a habit.
    Everyone has an automatic success mechanism built within them, but very few use it. It's the same mechanism that let's you drive your car and brush your teeth without consciously thinking - it's your unconscious mind. One you start taking effective action on a more consistent basis, it will become a habit; and that's the point when your productivity will be set on auto-pilot; that's why it's called your automatic success mechanism.
  5. You've got to have it perfect.
    This is closely tied to #1, except for one difference. You could be scared to death of failure and avoid taking action because you don't want to be a failure. You already know this is untrue. But you could be avoiding effective action for entirely different reason and that's because you don't think it's perfect just yet. You might have to make that phone call to that someone special or start that business or savings account that would make all the difference for you, but it's just not perfect yet. I'll let you in on a little secret. It's never perfect until you make it perfect and take action - effective action. That's the fastest way to make it perfect. Just aim and shoot.
  6. You'll look bad.
    You realize that if you take action (which is in that 20% we've talked about) you might look bad, and you couldn't have that. Looking bad or looking good are both action killers. You see, at some point an effective person who takes effective action gives up their idea of looking bad because they realize it's not as important as what they want. I've found through coaching that most people who want to look good (and prevent looking bad) are people who have a low self-image. Because if they had a better self-image, you know they would just go out there and just frickin do it!

So let's look at the numbers again. 20% of your actions will create 80% of your results. That means you can actually do less than you're doing right now and get more done. Bigger and better results. It's about quality, not quantity.Does it sound too good to be true?

Well, when I started working from home, I began creating a list of 5-6 daily actions and I still do this today. These are the most important actions I will take that day to catapult my productivity and produce results.

Most days I would work through that list and get everything done, but not always. Sometimes I avoided these actions for the reasons I mentioned above, but there may be others?

What do you think? What are some of the reasons we avoid taking effective action?