Spend your time wisely

It's not an unlimited resource, so make the most of it

We are conditioned to be busy. Thanks to technology and a more fluid working environment, we are expected to be always contactable, always available.

This has advantages but can also be overwhelming. "Sometimes we create this feeling of being too busy through our own choices," says Shay Wright, co-founder of Te Whare Hukahuka, which works to empower Maori entrepreneurs and leaders.

Shay uses an old principle to help guide his time use, and recommends it to others.

"In the 1800s, an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto realised that 80 per cent of the peas from his garden were produced by just 20 per cent of the pea pods."

Pareto looked at other aspects of his life and environment and realised this applied more broadly. Eighty per cent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 per cent of the population, for example and 80 per cent of production came from 20 per cent of companies.

The 80/20 principle applies to other disciplines. Physicist Victor Yakovenko analysed US income data from 1983 to 2001, and found that the income distribution among the top 3 per cent of the population followed Pareto's principle.

In computing, Microsoft found that fixing the 20 per cent most-reported bugs, eliminated 80 per cent of system crashes.

"And in our daily life, 80 per cent of our results come from just 20 percent of our work," says Shay.

Called the 80/20 principle, this is a breakthrough for busy people.

"We can apply it to our businesses and to our personal lives," says Shay. "From the customers we focus on, through to how we spend time with our kids, there's always a 20 per cent that truly matters, to help us reach our goals or bring us more joy."

Consider your own life. When you think of each of your goals, what's the 20 per cent that you should really be focusing on? Is that how you're spending your time?

If not, it's time to think again.

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