You’ve probably heard of the Pareto Principle, right? You know, the one that says 20 percent of your input is responsible for 80 percent of your output. Or, in entrepreneurial terms, 80 percent of your income will come from 20 percent of your actions.
The problem with that, for most creative solopreneurs is that we spend an awful lot of time on tasks that aren’t part of the 20 percent. And a lot of times that’s because we don’t really know which tasks should be part of our 20 percent.
The best way to deal with this problem is to find the twenty percent of tasks that are the most important. When you know what these tasks are, you’ll be able to make smarter business decisions. Fortunately you can figure out which tasks belong in your 20 percent by asking yourself a few questions.
Question #1 - Can this task be done by someone else?
Your most valuable tasks will always be the ones that can only be done by you. If you're an author, then your most valuable task would be writing. If you’re an artist, your most valuable task would be painting, drawing, or doing whatever kind of art you do. If you're a coach, your most valuable task would be coaching your clients. Are you seeing the pattern here?
If you’re working on a project and there are elements that someone else can do, don’t be afraid to outsource. By outsourcing, you’ll be able to concentrate on bringing your very best work to the project.
Even better, ask yourself if a task can be automated? Can you load up your blog with posts in advance and have them automatically published. Can you take advantage of social media scheduling tools like Bleu Page Pro or an automated email system like Drip to handle your social media and your email newsletters?
Question #2 - Does this task make me money?
Your most valuable tasks are income generators. This is important to understand because many business owners spend too much time on activities that aren’t profitable. Tasks like spending two hours fussing over your Facebook header or nitpicking the colors of your website are not producing income. Going back to question 1, these are things that could be better outsourced to a web designer.
If a task doesn't earn you money, then you need to ask if this is something that truly needs to be completed by you. Outsourcing mundane tasks lets you focus on big picture tasks that increase your income. Put another way, outsourcing the 80 percent tasks is a good way of saying no to busy work.
Question #3 – Does this task give me energy or take it away?
One of your most important assets is your energy. Your most valuable tasks are the ones that give you energy and really get you jazzed about working on them. Those are the tasks that belong on your 20 percent list.
Most business owners dread the small, mundane tasks because they already know these tasks don't matter that much, and they sap their energy rather than adding to it.
A couple of things to consider when it comes to activities that you don’t enjoy are a) whether they even need to be done in the first place, and b) are they still relevant to your business. When you stop to think about them, you might find that you’ve been holding onto outdated advice or that your business has changed so much that you no longer need to do this task.
The beginning of each new year is a good time to evaluate your work, looking for the truly valuable tasks that are on your plate. But, you don’t have to wait until January 1st to start. Every day is the start of a whole new year, and you deserve to focus on your 20 percent tasks, regardless of what day the calendar says it is.
Figure out what your 20 percent tasks are, and don’t be afraid delegate or even delete the 80 percent of your tasks that are sapping your energy and not making you money.
Do you have know what your twenty percent tasks are? Share your thoughts in the comments or chime in on the discussion in the group.
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