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Join the 20% Club: Maximize Your Time By Employing Three Productivity Principles

priorities productivity time management Apr 02, 2023

What percentage of your work day is filled with activities that don't make money?

In terms of your business, the most valuable activity is most likely lead generation. It’s the first step toward impacting revenue.

Stop and think about how frequently you interact with your clients or prospective customers versus the time you spend in meetings or responding to “urgent” requests that may not be that urgent. 

Chances are you know what it’s like when a day doesn’t go as planned. It happens, but you can’t afford to normalize urgency at the expense of your highest-leverage activity.

In this email, we’re connecting three principles – all of which you’re likely familiar with. You probably haven’t thought about how each is connected in a way that helps you prioritize your time so that the most important things get done first.

➥ Join the 20% club: The Pareto Principle

In 1906, an Italian economist observed that 20 percent of Italian citizens owned 80 percent of the nation’s real estate.

After further investigation, Vilfredo Pareto found the same to be true in other countries. In fact, Pareto found that what is now known as the 80/20 rule holds true in most areas of productivity and economic growth.

In today’s society, we see example after example of the Pareto Principle. 

In most organizations, the top twenty percent of sales professionals generate eighty percent of revenues. 

The 80/20 rule helps you benchmark how much time you should spend on your most important daily activities.

To be in the top twenty percent of successful businesses in your industry, you need to spend twenty percent of your time on your most important activity. That’s two hours in a ten-hour day.

How, though, do you guard those priorities when work and home life are so incredibly chaotic?

➥ Prioritize your day: The Big Rocks Principle

The Big Rocks Principle emphasizes the importance of prioritizing tasks based on their level of significance. 

American author Stephen Covey uses four elements to illustrate what happens when we place our most important work ahead of routine matters.

The big rocks represent your most important tasks. Pebbles, sand, and water represent less critical tasks.

Filling a jar with water, sand, or pebbles first leaves no room for the big rocks representing your most important work.

However, when you add the rocks first, then the pebbles, followed by the sand and the water, the jar contains all of the materials.

Covey’s demonstration reminds us to identify and prioritize the most important tasks – to allocate time for them before we address less critical tasks.

From a business standpoint, you will know what’s most important when you understand the activity likely to generate revenue – that only you can do. 

Don’t overlook the importance of taking care of yourself. Working out, stress management and a proper diet protect your business’s most valuable asset:


By putting your big rocks first, you’re less likely to be constantly overwhelmed and stressed.

This leads us to our third principle – which helps us protect our time with boundaries and setting expectations.

➥ Protect time for your highest-leverage actions: The Bunker Principle

In productivity terms, a "bunker" is a block of time on your calendar dedicated to a specific task or set of tasks. It is a way of protecting and prioritizing time for the top twenty percent.

To build a bunker into your calendar, you first need to identify the essential tasks that need to be accomplished. 

Which activities produce eighty percent of the results you want? 

Next, determine where they fit onto your calendar. Ideally, you will build the bulk of your schedule around your big rocks items.

Now, block off time in your calendar.

This is your bunker. Protect it. Honor the commitment to yourself and your business. Let others know this is your big rock time. Say no to non-revenue-producing meetings and requests. 

This is the way to eighty percent of your revenue – or whatever production or output you’re measuring.

The world doesn't know your purpose and priorities and isn't responsible for them. You are.

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