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The 80/20 Rule of Effort

The end of the year is approaching so I am looking backwards and forwards as I do every year. As I am sure many of you do too. One conclusion I have to draw from this year that I will take into the next is how I have squandered my time.

Squandered might be too strong a word, but I must say I have kicked myself over wasted time and missed opportunities. Perhaps this is familiar:

  • Tinkering with social media sites with little to no payoff
  • Projects started but not pushed through to completion
  • Direction less surfing, tweaking and chatting
  • Discussions and enthusiasm for potential opportunities that go nowhere
  • Etc

I don’t want to be too down, as well as wasting time I have achieved some good stuff. The important thing is not to dwell on mistakes but learn from them. So I need to plan for productivity.

The first step towards this plan is I have decided to abandon Facebook. I am afraid I have had enough of the service, it just seems a terrible waste of time and a distraction.

I’m also going to take more breaks, turn off the computer at 18:30 and not turn it on again until I start work the next morning. Being online and available practically 24-7 rather than helping me get more done, is actually hindering my productivity through loss of energy and poor sleep.

I have said before I would take regular breaks and not gone through with it. Soon I will have no excuse, we just bought a puppy who is going to need walking!

This and other common sense stuff will help, but the core of my plan will be to focus on what directly or indirectly produces results.

My action plan:

  1. Monitor where my time goes, plan my time better
  2. Trim the 20% of non-productive tasks that leach 80% of my time
  3. Focus on the 20% of tasks that produce 80% of revenue and results

As you can see, I am aiming to base my work around the 80-20 concept.

This 80-20 rule, or Pareto Principle, suggests that a small percentage of your effort brings most of your results, while a much smaller part of your achievement comes from where most of your time goes. Homing in on the time-draining aspects versus those productive tasks could be a quick and easy fix. It is identifying the correct targets for promotion or deletion that is the tricky part.

This is where the time log will come in. Starting today I am going to record what I do, when, for how long, and to what end. Hopefully after a few weeks of this, possibly sooner, I will know what exactly I do with my time. By the new year I will know what to cut and what to emphasize. At least, that is the plan.

I am sure there are other things we can do to make 2008 more productive than 2007, share your advice, let me know your tips, articles or links in the comments πŸ™‚

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Comments

  1. Like you, I had to abandon my biggest time wasters which included my favorite work at home mom forum. While commiseration is fun, it does nothing to help my career and I get the commiseration from the neighborhood kindergarten moms. I do feel social networking is important however, so I have time set up to do that.

    I also had to prune my feeds. It’s hard to keep up with over 400 blogs a day. I pared it down to a couple of hundred and do most of my reading on the weekends. I did drop a couple of clients for jobs I didn’t enjoy. I find I procrastinate less when I love what I do.

    Having an editorial calendar and specific blocks of time to work helps to keep my focus. I know I only have a few hours to work while my son is in school, that’s when I buckle down. I save the more “mindless” work – social networking, readings emails and feeds – for when he’s home from school and can lose some focus.

    Also like you, I also learned to shut my computer off at 8:00 each evening. My husband is much better company than my computer.

  2. Like you, I had to abandon my biggest time wasters which included my favorite work at home mom forum. While commiseration is fun, it does nothing to help my career and I get the commiseration from the neighborhood kindergarten moms. I do feel social networking is important however, so I have time set up to do that.

    I also had to prune my feeds. It’s hard to keep up with over 400 blogs a day. I pared it down to a couple of hundred and do most of my reading on the weekends. I did drop a couple of clients for jobs I didn’t enjoy. I find I procrastinate less when I love what I do.

    Having an editorial calendar and specific blocks of time to work helps to keep my focus. I know I only have a few hours to work while my son is in school, that’s when I buckle down. I save the more “mindless” work – social networking, readings emails and feeds – for when he’s home from school and can lose some focus.

    Also like you, I also learned to shut my computer off at 8:00 each evening. My husband is much better company than my computer.

  3. Chris,

    Don’t beat yourself up too bad. I find that the distractions help me to focus once I am ready to hunker down and get to work.

    Good article. I stumbled and reviewed.

  4. Chris,

    Don’t beat yourself up too bad. I find that the distractions help me to focus once I am ready to hunker down and get to work.

    Good article. I stumbled and reviewed.

  5. I’m with you on this one Chris. Unfortunately, knowing which activities will bring the big pay off is impossible. So knowing the 80/20 rule doesn’t help in that regard.

    One new years resolution is to reduce my aimless email checking, feed viewing and surfing in general. Trouble is, when I try to reduce it, it feels like I’m un-jacking myself from the internet in some way. Still, I’ll still be reading you though. πŸ™‚

  6. I’m with you on this one Chris. Unfortunately, knowing which activities will bring the big pay off is impossible. So knowing the 80/20 rule doesn’t help in that regard.

    One new years resolution is to reduce my aimless email checking, feed viewing and surfing in general. Trouble is, when I try to reduce it, it feels like I’m un-jacking myself from the internet in some way. Still, I’ll still be reading you though. πŸ™‚

  7. Good luck with 2008!

  8. Good luck with 2008!

  9. Yeah, I have to be careful about this too. Lately, I’ve been shutting down my Internet connection for a few hours if I need to get some writing done.

    Still, don’t disappear on us entirely!

    I know it sucks up a lot of time, but you might also classify which of your discussions are the most productive. I spend several hours a day reaching out to other people, and it’s paid off big time.

    In fact, I’m finding it more productive to write 2-3 posts per week instead of 5 and spend those other two days on nothing but networking and promotion. Since I’m averaging 800-1000 visitors a day in about a month, I’d say it’s working πŸ™‚

  10. Yeah, I have to be careful about this too. Lately, I’ve been shutting down my Internet connection for a few hours if I need to get some writing done.

    Still, don’t disappear on us entirely!

    I know it sucks up a lot of time, but you might also classify which of your discussions are the most productive. I spend several hours a day reaching out to other people, and it’s paid off big time.

    In fact, I’m finding it more productive to write 2-3 posts per week instead of 5 and spend those other two days on nothing but networking and promotion. Since I’m averaging 800-1000 visitors a day in about a month, I’d say it’s working πŸ™‚

  11. Yep. I’ve never understood the fascination with Facebook, MySpace, or any of the social web sites. If someone wants to talk to me, or I them, there’s a thing out called a phone. Already people complain of too many phone interruptions but then they feel a need to communicate via the ‘net, too.

    It doesn’t make sense. Damn them all. I’ve never been there. I have enough work to do.

  12. Yep. I’ve never understood the fascination with Facebook, MySpace, or any of the social web sites. If someone wants to talk to me, or I them, there’s a thing out called a phone. Already people complain of too many phone interruptions but then they feel a need to communicate via the ‘net, too.

    It doesn’t make sense. Damn them all. I’ve never been there. I have enough work to do.

  13. Yeah, I’m with you Chris.

    I recently gave up Twitter for these exact reasons. Never found Facebook addicting though. I’m more productive!

  14. Yeah, I’m with you Chris.

    I recently gave up Twitter for these exact reasons. Never found Facebook addicting though. I’m more productive!

  15. I am with you on this one. I am very new to having a blog (little over a week) and I can already see some things that I wasted time on that I should not have. My blog is to support my business efforts and I must keep focus of my goal. Everything I do, I ask “does this move me closer to my goal?” If the answer is no then I don’t do it.

  16. I am with you on this one. I am very new to having a blog (little over a week) and I can already see some things that I wasted time on that I should not have. My blog is to support my business efforts and I must keep focus of my goal. Everything I do, I ask “does this move me closer to my goal?” If the answer is no then I don’t do it.

  17. I like the pacing of this article, it seems very calm and together, as the end of the year tends to be.

    I’ve already started working on my New Year’s Resolutions, And I’m making some blog resolutions too.

    One of the more radical things i’m thinking of doing is posting bi-weekly. But with a twist:

    I’ll post for 7 days. Then Break for 7. Then post for another 7. The breaks will help me better research and think about what i’m posting. I plan to end the 7 days with a meatier article, that people can talk about for the week that i’m off.

    I blog at Artmakr.com
    & Artmaker.blogspot.com

  18. I like the pacing of this article, it seems very calm and together, as the end of the year tends to be.

    I’ve already started working on my New Year’s Resolutions, And I’m making some blog resolutions too.

    One of the more radical things i’m thinking of doing is posting bi-weekly. But with a twist:

    I’ll post for 7 days. Then Break for 7. Then post for another 7. The breaks will help me better research and think about what i’m posting. I plan to end the 7 days with a meatier article, that people can talk about for the week that i’m off.

    I blog at Artmakr.com
    & Artmaker.blogspot.com

  19. @Deb – I will still be networking, just not so much of the “zombies have bitten you” or “throw a sheep” type stuff πŸ™‚ I need to go through the feeds again, I just threw out a load but I will need to be more ruthless. The editorial calendar will definitely come in handy, excellent point – up to now I have done too much winging it rather than planned writing.

    @Fred – Thanks for the stumblification πŸ™‚ I am positive about this, I think it will feel good after the initial pain of change πŸ™‚

    @Jack – I think I have a good idea of the fruitless tasks, but the diary will tell me for sure. It’s definitely a good idea to do things like checking email in batches as distractions take away your concentration which takes additional time to get back. I know what you mean about the withdrawal symptoms though!

    @GradeMoney – Good luck for 2008 yourself πŸ™‚

    @Jon – It certainly is working for you Jon πŸ™‚ I have been considering doing fewer posts and spending longer on them. Many days though I find there is something on my mind I want to write about.

    @Rob – Some I find valuable for keeping abreast of news, but Facebook and the like seems too much about trivial stuff for me to keep putting attention on it. Perhaps one day I could be convinced otherwise but after saying I would a couple of times I really need to just give up on it properly.

    @Jim – That’s good to know πŸ™‚ I will keep on twitter, just not as much, perhaps just check in a couple of times a day.

    @David – Keeping to your goals is the best idea, just be careful that you do not remove activities that help indirectly such as networking

    @Ming – I find the breaks do provide inspiration. It gives the brain chance to free wheel for a while πŸ™‚

  20. @Deb – I will still be networking, just not so much of the “zombies have bitten you” or “throw a sheep” type stuff πŸ™‚ I need to go through the feeds again, I just threw out a load but I will need to be more ruthless. The editorial calendar will definitely come in handy, excellent point – up to now I have done too much winging it rather than planned writing.

    @Fred – Thanks for the stumblification πŸ™‚ I am positive about this, I think it will feel good after the initial pain of change πŸ™‚

    @Jack – I think I have a good idea of the fruitless tasks, but the diary will tell me for sure. It’s definitely a good idea to do things like checking email in batches as distractions take away your concentration which takes additional time to get back. I know what you mean about the withdrawal symptoms though!

    @GradeMoney – Good luck for 2008 yourself πŸ™‚

    @Jon – It certainly is working for you Jon πŸ™‚ I have been considering doing fewer posts and spending longer on them. Many days though I find there is something on my mind I want to write about.

    @Rob – Some I find valuable for keeping abreast of news, but Facebook and the like seems too much about trivial stuff for me to keep putting attention on it. Perhaps one day I could be convinced otherwise but after saying I would a couple of times I really need to just give up on it properly.

    @Jim – That’s good to know πŸ™‚ I will keep on twitter, just not as much, perhaps just check in a couple of times a day.

    @David – Keeping to your goals is the best idea, just be careful that you do not remove activities that help indirectly such as networking

    @Ming – I find the breaks do provide inspiration. It gives the brain chance to free wheel for a while πŸ™‚

  21. There is no better time to start with 80/20 than in 2008, just scramble the digits πŸ™‚

    I am heading the 80/20 way too, removing time wasters and trying to figure out which tasks that really makes a difference. Since I am gradually changing career I really do need to focus on the important tasks and drop the rest.

  22. There is no better time to start with 80/20 than in 2008, just scramble the digits πŸ™‚

    I am heading the 80/20 way too, removing time wasters and trying to figure out which tasks that really makes a difference. Since I am gradually changing career I really do need to focus on the important tasks and drop the rest.

  23. Good observation about the digits, hadn’t noticed. Perhaps it is a sign? πŸ˜‰ Good luck on the career change!

  24. Good observation about the digits, hadn’t noticed. Perhaps it is a sign? πŸ˜‰ Good luck on the career change!

  25. I love the Pareto Principle. It’s really emphasized in the bestselling book 4 Hour Work Week. This book helps you figure out which tasks bring the most return.

    Anyways, thanks for this post. I will definitely try to be more productive in 2008.

  26. I love the Pareto Principle. It’s really emphasized in the bestselling book 4 Hour Work Week. This book helps you figure out which tasks bring the most return.

    Anyways, thanks for this post. I will definitely try to be more productive in 2008.

  27. It’s amazing how often the principle appears in life, maybe not always 80-20, might be 10-90 etc, but in many cases it broadly holds true and you can make some big impacts with tiny tweaks. Very often they are the most satisfying changes too πŸ™‚

  28. It’s amazing how often the principle appears in life, maybe not always 80-20, might be 10-90 etc, but in many cases it broadly holds true and you can make some big impacts with tiny tweaks. Very often they are the most satisfying changes too πŸ™‚

  29. It is true that you have to pare down the time wasting, and I’ve recently given Facebook and MySpace a break too. I also turned off the automatic notification of new emails and only check after completing major tasks. But if we want people to visit our blogs, we should spend some time paying it forward as well by visiting other blogs and interacting with other bloggers. What is your favorite way of finding out about new blogs and keeping up with other bloggers?

    I found the social networking available on NaBloPoMo much more useful than on either Facebook or MySpace as it was all bloggers and the groups were much more interactive and defined.

    But my biggest goal overall is to finish my novel, and I find that blogging is killing my novel writing time : ( Maybe big changes are in store for 2008!

  30. It is true that you have to pare down the time wasting, and I’ve recently given Facebook and MySpace a break too. I also turned off the automatic notification of new emails and only check after completing major tasks. But if we want people to visit our blogs, we should spend some time paying it forward as well by visiting other blogs and interacting with other bloggers. What is your favorite way of finding out about new blogs and keeping up with other bloggers?

    I found the social networking available on NaBloPoMo much more useful than on either Facebook or MySpace as it was all bloggers and the groups were much more interactive and defined.

    But my biggest goal overall is to finish my novel, and I find that blogging is killing my novel writing time : ( Maybe big changes are in store for 2008!

  31. I am going to keep a healthy portion of feeds, and keep twittering. Also I find it is important to keep finding new blogs and commenting by following links and seeing where they take me, as you say we have to pay it forward. I do believe in Karma, plus it is only right to support others in their blogging. What I do have to do though is schedule time and not encroach on other things that are equally important.

  32. I am going to keep a healthy portion of feeds, and keep twittering. Also I find it is important to keep finding new blogs and commenting by following links and seeing where they take me, as you say we have to pay it forward. I do believe in Karma, plus it is only right to support others in their blogging. What I do have to do though is schedule time and not encroach on other things that are equally important.

  33. “Being online and available practically 24-7 rather than helping me get more done, is actually hindering my productivity through loss of energy and poor sleep.”

    Amen to that! My last post at Cheerful Monk was Are you Spending Enough Time “Doing Nothing”?.

  34. “Being online and available practically 24-7 rather than helping me get more done, is actually hindering my productivity through loss of energy and poor sleep.”

    Amen to that! My last post at Cheerful Monk was Are you Spending Enough Time “Doing Nothing”?.

  35. I am also thinking that Facebook and Myspace are the two largest time wasters on the planet. They are not productive of anything, in any way that I can discern.

    Among social networks, I continue to find Stumbleupon to be by far the most productive use of scarce time.

  36. I am also thinking that Facebook and Myspace are the two largest time wasters on the planet. They are not productive of anything, in any way that I can discern.

    Among social networks, I continue to find Stumbleupon to be by far the most productive use of scarce time.

  37. @Jean – Nice link, and yes I don’t think I spend enough time doing nothing – I need to debuzz the brain more

    @Bill – SU gives back way more than I give, so will definitely keep that. Twitter can be full of noise but the occasional signal makes it worth it πŸ™‚

  38. @Jean – Nice link, and yes I don’t think I spend enough time doing nothing – I need to debuzz the brain more

    @Bill – SU gives back way more than I give, so will definitely keep that. Twitter can be full of noise but the occasional signal makes it worth it πŸ™‚

  39. Chris,

    I really dig the magazine-style pull quotes — nice chunky formatting touch, man.

    Regarding daily time scheduling and “turning off the computer,” I would like to share that I’ve been working for myself with a heavy online component for 6 years. The first 4 years, I worked as close to 24/7 as was humanly possible. Literally 18 hours a day at the computer if I could stand it, and when I slept it was on the keyboard…

    2 years ago, I said Enough! I began a strict schedule with a clear daily cut off point that I stick to religiously. About 1/3 or 1/4 the hours.

    I now accomplish more in a 6 month period than I did in all 4 of those years combined. The difference is amazing. What might take me two hours to half-ass accomplish when I am tired or pushing myself, I can wait until I’m fresh and do the same work in 30 minutes.

    Your new time goals sound both incredibly healthy and wise to me. Happy New Year!

  40. Chris,

    I really dig the magazine-style pull quotes — nice chunky formatting touch, man.

    Regarding daily time scheduling and “turning off the computer,” I would like to share that I’ve been working for myself with a heavy online component for 6 years. The first 4 years, I worked as close to 24/7 as was humanly possible. Literally 18 hours a day at the computer if I could stand it, and when I slept it was on the keyboard…

    2 years ago, I said Enough! I began a strict schedule with a clear daily cut off point that I stick to religiously. About 1/3 or 1/4 the hours.

    I now accomplish more in a 6 month period than I did in all 4 of those years combined. The difference is amazing. What might take me two hours to half-ass accomplish when I am tired or pushing myself, I can wait until I’m fresh and do the same work in 30 minutes.

    Your new time goals sound both incredibly healthy and wise to me. Happy New Year!

  41. Chris,

    This is so funny, I am in the middle of writing a post about this same thing. I spent WAY too much time checking email, reading blogs, surfing the web, experimenting… and not actually doing productive work.

    I am going to give myself hard and fast limits on things like “check my email 3 times a day max”. I am also going to create a list of daily goals and I have to finish the productive goals before I can surf the web, experiment with social networking, etc.

    Lastly, I am going to focus on using my strengths more. Great post. I hope you succeed in making 2008 a more productive year.

  42. Chris,

    This is so funny, I am in the middle of writing a post about this same thing. I spent WAY too much time checking email, reading blogs, surfing the web, experimenting… and not actually doing productive work.

    I am going to give myself hard and fast limits on things like “check my email 3 times a day max”. I am also going to create a list of daily goals and I have to finish the productive goals before I can surf the web, experiment with social networking, etc.

    Lastly, I am going to focus on using my strengths more. Great post. I hope you succeed in making 2008 a more productive year.

  43. Hi Chris

    This is an interesting post. This is, in my opinion, true blogging. When bloggers go beyond being journalists, and beyond giving advice. When they share and be open about what they think and feel.

    I think we all have some levels of regret about what we’ve done and not done in 2007. For me, I regret “how” I’ve done things. I believe that continuous improvement is important.

    I’ve just started reading The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. This is an amazing book. Google the book, and you’ll see what I mean. Early next year I’ll blog about my discoveries and improvements due to this book.

    The one tiny thing I tried already worked! Tim says not to check email all day, and the first thing in the morning, as all of us do. He says check it at 11am and 4pm – and have an auto-responder at other times stating that you’re checking email only at those times, and that emergencies can be called through to your mobile.

    I tried this one day, and I tell you, by 11am I had accomplished SO MUCH! And what’s more, I was quite excited to check my email – and when I did, the world didn’t collapse due to me not checking mail earlier!

    I must admit though, I’m weak in this area, so I’m back to auto Send & Receive every “one” minute! πŸ™‚

    I present a lot of training seminars on blogging and Web 2.0 in general, and I do a time management section (because Web 2.0 can really eat your time if you don’t focus) – and I always ask who checks their email first – and I always get a majority show of hands! πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I recommend that everyone reads this book. I believe there’s an e-book also available at a fraction of the cost. In general I refuse to read online though, I print or buy the book.

    Thanks for a great blog, certainly one of my choice resources.

    Ciao from South Africa

  44. Hi Chris

    This is an interesting post. This is, in my opinion, true blogging. When bloggers go beyond being journalists, and beyond giving advice. When they share and be open about what they think and feel.

    I think we all have some levels of regret about what we’ve done and not done in 2007. For me, I regret “how” I’ve done things. I believe that continuous improvement is important.

    I’ve just started reading The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. This is an amazing book. Google the book, and you’ll see what I mean. Early next year I’ll blog about my discoveries and improvements due to this book.

    The one tiny thing I tried already worked! Tim says not to check email all day, and the first thing in the morning, as all of us do. He says check it at 11am and 4pm – and have an auto-responder at other times stating that you’re checking email only at those times, and that emergencies can be called through to your mobile.

    I tried this one day, and I tell you, by 11am I had accomplished SO MUCH! And what’s more, I was quite excited to check my email – and when I did, the world didn’t collapse due to me not checking mail earlier!

    I must admit though, I’m weak in this area, so I’m back to auto Send & Receive every “one” minute! πŸ™‚

    I present a lot of training seminars on blogging and Web 2.0 in general, and I do a time management section (because Web 2.0 can really eat your time if you don’t focus) – and I always ask who checks their email first – and I always get a majority show of hands! πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I recommend that everyone reads this book. I believe there’s an e-book also available at a fraction of the cost. In general I refuse to read online though, I print or buy the book.

    Thanks for a great blog, certainly one of my choice resources.

    Ciao from South Africa

  45. It is always good to evaluate your priorities and balance work/personal life. The idea of cutting back on services makes sense. Like any endeavor, you explore and play with different technologies and keep the ones that mske sense for your business.

    I don’t consider it wasted time. You need to invest time in different technologies to see what works and does not work. Knowing what doesn’t work is just as important as knowing what works.

    I believe whatever you learn is like money in the bank. It may not be useful now, but 6 months from now, a year from now, the knowledge from those squandered opportunities will pay off.

    For 2008, I think the puppy should write a few columns. I think the puppies perspective could be useful. He might get 1 mil from VCs.

  46. It is always good to evaluate your priorities and balance work/personal life. The idea of cutting back on services makes sense. Like any endeavor, you explore and play with different technologies and keep the ones that mske sense for your business.

    I don’t consider it wasted time. You need to invest time in different technologies to see what works and does not work. Knowing what doesn’t work is just as important as knowing what works.

    I believe whatever you learn is like money in the bank. It may not be useful now, but 6 months from now, a year from now, the knowledge from those squandered opportunities will pay off.

    For 2008, I think the puppy should write a few columns. I think the puppies perspective could be useful. He might get 1 mil from VCs.

  47. Great post Chris. A few years back my brother shared a similar concept with me – except his had to do with his client list. He fired a handful of very high maintenance clients who were draining his company’s resources. In the end, his company was much better for it and they do this audit more frequently now.

    Keeping a detailed activity log is a great idea. I try to keep on track by using lists of tasks by priorities, but its so easy to get off task.

    Here’s to a much more productive 2008!

  48. Great post Chris. A few years back my brother shared a similar concept with me – except his had to do with his client list. He fired a handful of very high maintenance clients who were draining his company’s resources. In the end, his company was much better for it and they do this audit more frequently now.

    Keeping a detailed activity log is a great idea. I try to keep on track by using lists of tasks by priorities, but its so easy to get off task.

    Here’s to a much more productive 2008!

  49. I feel you, Chris. Turning off the computer and getting offline is a big step. It allows you to get more sleep, as well as to spend more quality time with friends and family. More rest and relaxation makes people healthier and happier which, in turn, makes them more productive, whether they’re self-employed or not.

    Keeping better track of where your time goes is also a good way to stay focused and figure out what activities need to be trimmed.

    I’m going to be trying to do some of the same things myself, come the new year. I’m burning out way too fast, these days, finding that I’m exhausted and ready for the week to be over by Wednesday or Thursday most weeks. I then spend the weekends recovering from my sleep debt, instead of spending time with friends and family.

    Good luck to us both!

  50. I feel you, Chris. Turning off the computer and getting offline is a big step. It allows you to get more sleep, as well as to spend more quality time with friends and family. More rest and relaxation makes people healthier and happier which, in turn, makes them more productive, whether they’re self-employed or not.

    Keeping better track of where your time goes is also a good way to stay focused and figure out what activities need to be trimmed.

    I’m going to be trying to do some of the same things myself, come the new year. I’m burning out way too fast, these days, finding that I’m exhausted and ready for the week to be over by Wednesday or Thursday most weeks. I then spend the weekends recovering from my sleep debt, instead of spending time with friends and family.

    Good luck to us both!

  51. Chris,

    This seems to be a topic on many people’s minds. Must be the time of year.

    I posted about my time squandering recently – I called it “blogus interruptus”.

    The 80/20 rule is definitely my top priority going into 2008.

    BTW, how do you do those magazine-style pull quotes that Slade complimented you on? Is it a plugin or formatting?

    All the best,

    Mark

  52. Chris,

    This seems to be a topic on many people’s minds. Must be the time of year.

    I posted about my time squandering recently – I called it “blogus interruptus”.

    The 80/20 rule is definitely my top priority going into 2008.

    BTW, how do you do those magazine-style pull quotes that Slade complimented you on? Is it a plugin or formatting?

    All the best,

    Mark

  53. Accept for tinkering with social media sites, I would say that the statements you present here are spot on.

    Tinkering with social media sites with little to no payoff

    Projects started but not pushed through to completion

    Direction less surfing, tweaking and chatting

    Discussions and enthusiasm for potential opportunities that go nowhere

    It is a stinging reminder that some of my efforts are, well, “other directed” and not as well focused as they should be.

    I need skills in just about every aspect of web development, and don’t even get me started on trying to create a Word Press blog.

    I tend to wonder the net (at times) looking for a method, or an idea that will make the enormity of the “technical tasks” ahead of me much easier.

    But it is not to be. Web developement, whatever form it takes, requires singlemindedness of purpose, and answers to only one master – hard work.

    With that being said, I have no doubt Chris that you will find your balance and put your ducks in a row.

    Thanks for reminding of me of the mountains I still have to climb, and basically bumming out my day with your keen observations (just kidding).

    PS – What were you doing with social media sites that had little payoff? Maybe you could save me some time by identifying some of the things you found to be less fruitful…

    Great post..

    Robert..

  54. Accept for tinkering with social media sites, I would say that the statements you present here are spot on.

    Tinkering with social media sites with little to no payoff

    Projects started but not pushed through to completion

    Direction less surfing, tweaking and chatting

    Discussions and enthusiasm for potential opportunities that go nowhere

    It is a stinging reminder that some of my efforts are, well, “other directed” and not as well focused as they should be.

    I need skills in just about every aspect of web development, and don’t even get me started on trying to create a Word Press blog.

    I tend to wonder the net (at times) looking for a method, or an idea that will make the enormity of the “technical tasks” ahead of me much easier.

    But it is not to be. Web developement, whatever form it takes, requires singlemindedness of purpose, and answers to only one master – hard work.

    With that being said, I have no doubt Chris that you will find your balance and put your ducks in a row.

    Thanks for reminding of me of the mountains I still have to climb, and basically bumming out my day with your keen observations (just kidding).

    PS – What were you doing with social media sites that had little payoff? Maybe you could save me some time by identifying some of the things you found to be less fruitful…

    Great post..

    Robert..

  55. I’m starting off 2008 with a big new freelance blogging gig, so definitely it’s a great time to get a handle on the 80/20 principle.

    A couple of practical first steps:

    I’ve alrady gone through my various social networking accounts and disabled a lot of the email notifications: there’s nothing that can’t wait for me to check in, and I’ve been finding that a major distraction.

    The stats links have to get off my bookmark toolbar, too — it’s too tempting to do a quick click-and-check-stats when the links are right there in front of me!

    An editorial calendar: definitely. Having an advance plan for posts means less time spent in “directionless surfing” under the guide of seeking inspiraton!

    I’m using the Read It Later plugin to good advantage, to help keep from getting distracted in the middle of a task, too. But, like some of the others, I’m going to have to prune back the number of feeds I try to follow…

    I’m sure there’s more that could be done, but at least that’s a start. Of course, now I have to keep checking back for comments here, to see what clever GTD ideas your other readers have come up with!

  56. I’m starting off 2008 with a big new freelance blogging gig, so definitely it’s a great time to get a handle on the 80/20 principle.

    A couple of practical first steps:

    I’ve alrady gone through my various social networking accounts and disabled a lot of the email notifications: there’s nothing that can’t wait for me to check in, and I’ve been finding that a major distraction.

    The stats links have to get off my bookmark toolbar, too — it’s too tempting to do a quick click-and-check-stats when the links are right there in front of me!

    An editorial calendar: definitely. Having an advance plan for posts means less time spent in “directionless surfing” under the guide of seeking inspiraton!

    I’m using the Read It Later plugin to good advantage, to help keep from getting distracted in the middle of a task, too. But, like some of the others, I’m going to have to prune back the number of feeds I try to follow…

    I’m sure there’s more that could be done, but at least that’s a start. Of course, now I have to keep checking back for comments here, to see what clever GTD ideas your other readers have come up with!

  57. I have just thought about increasing my productivity in 2008 and your post comes just about the perfect time. But unfortunately, December is always a busy month for me, hence I don’t really have time to sit and think about ways to increase MY productivity!

    Thanks for the inspiration, I need to find time to think about this! πŸ˜€

  58. I have just thought about increasing my productivity in 2008 and your post comes just about the perfect time. But unfortunately, December is always a busy month for me, hence I don’t really have time to sit and think about ways to increase MY productivity!

    Thanks for the inspiration, I need to find time to think about this! πŸ˜€

  59. Last night I was stranded in bad weather and stayed overnight at a coworker’s house. No internet, just lots of sleep. It was brilliant. This whole 5-6 hours of sleep a night thing has to go. I think my big productivity resolution is to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, then use the morning time when I’m awake instead of the evening time when I’m beat.

  60. Last night I was stranded in bad weather and stayed overnight at a coworker’s house. No internet, just lots of sleep. It was brilliant. This whole 5-6 hours of sleep a night thing has to go. I think my big productivity resolution is to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, then use the morning time when I’m awake instead of the evening time when I’m beat.

  61. Hello Chris;

    Thank you for sharing this. I think that part of the challengesthat we face arise because we get tied up with resolutions. Here are 2 articles that I wrote suggesting a better way to move forward.

    I’d love to have your feedback

  62. Hello Chris;

    Thank you for sharing this. I think that part of the challengesthat we face arise because we get tied up with resolutions. Here are 2 articles that I wrote suggesting a better way to move forward.

    I’d love to have your feedback

  63. Great Post – Your Blog is very clean and easy to read.

    Two words jumped out at me during my initial read Tinkering Tweaking.

    I think all of us will wander “Tinkering & Tweaking” if we don’t have a focus.
    But having multiple items to focus on is only a problem when we doing have good time management.

    I love your Idea of a Time Log this will be a great time auditing tool.

    Let me know how the review of your Time Log goes.

    Dennis Ray Nestor Jr.

  64. Great Post – Your Blog is very clean and easy to read.

    Two words jumped out at me during my initial read Tinkering Tweaking.

    I think all of us will wander “Tinkering & Tweaking” if we don’t have a focus.
    But having multiple items to focus on is only a problem when we doing have good time management.

    I love your Idea of a Time Log this will be a great time auditing tool.

    Let me know how the review of your Time Log goes.

    Dennis Ray Nestor Jr.

  65. I have a similar issue, so I know where you are coming from. Good luck.

  66. I have a similar issue, so I know where you are coming from. Good luck.

  67. @Slade – Cool, I am glad you think the switching off is a good idea. Since I wrote this I haven’t quite switched off at the time I planned to (here I am writing this) but have done a lot better πŸ™‚

    @George – Focusing on your strengths is a great thing to keep in mind, all too often I try to be a Jack of all trades but it just stresses me out and the results are not as good as if I got in specialists like designers and such

    @Jamaaludeen – I find it so hard not to check mail but I will take your advice πŸ™‚

    @acohen843 – Heh, well Darren had his son dictate a column so why not? πŸ™‚

    @Char – Good idea, right now all my clients are lovely but definitely good advice πŸ™‚

    @Adam – Sleep debt is a great way of putting it, it definitely feels that way

    @Mark – It’s a plugin see the post I wrote here

    @The Wholesale – The social media sites are great when you are directing your energies but just sap your time when playing around and idling, throwing zombies and biting sheep and all that silly facebook stuff that gets you nowhere but is a giggle for 5mins at a time πŸ™‚

    @Jen – I bought that GTD book but haven’t read it!

    @pelf – Dec is a busy time for me too, but that is precisely why I need to get my act together πŸ™‚

    @Michael – Exactly, I am going to bed with my head full of work and not getting a good sleep, then trying to compensate with caffeine πŸ™

    @Galba – Cool, will check those out

    @Dennis – I will definitely follow up with results, it’s always good to see practice versus theory πŸ™‚

    @Pinyo – Good luck to you also πŸ™‚

  68. @Slade – Cool, I am glad you think the switching off is a good idea. Since I wrote this I haven’t quite switched off at the time I planned to (here I am writing this) but have done a lot better πŸ™‚

    @George – Focusing on your strengths is a great thing to keep in mind, all too often I try to be a Jack of all trades but it just stresses me out and the results are not as good as if I got in specialists like designers and such

    @Jamaaludeen – I find it so hard not to check mail but I will take your advice πŸ™‚

    @acohen843 – Heh, well Darren had his son dictate a column so why not? πŸ™‚

    @Char – Good idea, right now all my clients are lovely but definitely good advice πŸ™‚

    @Adam – Sleep debt is a great way of putting it, it definitely feels that way

    @Mark – It’s a plugin see the post I wrote here

    @The Wholesale – The social media sites are great when you are directing your energies but just sap your time when playing around and idling, throwing zombies and biting sheep and all that silly facebook stuff that gets you nowhere but is a giggle for 5mins at a time πŸ™‚

    @Jen – I bought that GTD book but haven’t read it!

    @pelf – Dec is a busy time for me too, but that is precisely why I need to get my act together πŸ™‚

    @Michael – Exactly, I am going to bed with my head full of work and not getting a good sleep, then trying to compensate with caffeine πŸ™

    @Galba – Cool, will check those out

    @Dennis – I will definitely follow up with results, it’s always good to see practice versus theory πŸ™‚

    @Pinyo – Good luck to you also πŸ™‚

  69. Very helpful advice – it inspired my end of year post – although it still seems a little early to be looking back. Mind you, not long until the festivities are in full swing!

  70. Very helpful advice – it inspired my end of year post – although it still seems a little early to be looking back. Mind you, not long until the festivities are in full swing!

  71. What do you think about using a blogging client to cut down on the time spent writing blogs and use more time for thinking? Not sure but I hear that Ecto is good for Mac and Windows Live Writer is good for Windows. Any thoughts?

  72. What do you think about using a blogging client to cut down on the time spent writing blogs and use more time for thinking? Not sure but I hear that Ecto is good for Mac and Windows Live Writer is good for Windows. Any thoughts?

  73. Hey Chris,

    Kudoos to you for taking stock and cutting your time losses.

    I never got caught up in the social media thing because I didn’t see the payoff, especially with Facebook. Plus, I’m not into lonely hearts clubs.
    :o/

    I know each day I think about what you said in my blog review and work at scheduling in regular postings; this is a challenge from time to time when the research nut in me takes a hold and I’m fixated on a ‘complete’ post versus starting the conversation.

    I’ve also picked my top 2 projects to get done in the next 3 months. I remain very zealous about my time…especially other business associates attempting to waste it with rambling phone calls versus occassional email messages.

    Not only have I been vigil over my time, I’ve also looked at MONEY wasters…and have cut out a bunch that did not cut the mustard with testing. I still have a couple more things to get rid including something that just popped in my head, which I’ll do TODAY.

    So I agree with you…by watching and policing how my time is spent, I get more done and am happier about my stress level.

    Now to get a facelift on the design and I’m good to really rock.
    cj

  74. Hey Chris,

    Kudoos to you for taking stock and cutting your time losses.

    I never got caught up in the social media thing because I didn’t see the payoff, especially with Facebook. Plus, I’m not into lonely hearts clubs.
    :o/

    I know each day I think about what you said in my blog review and work at scheduling in regular postings; this is a challenge from time to time when the research nut in me takes a hold and I’m fixated on a ‘complete’ post versus starting the conversation.

    I’ve also picked my top 2 projects to get done in the next 3 months. I remain very zealous about my time…especially other business associates attempting to waste it with rambling phone calls versus occassional email messages.

    Not only have I been vigil over my time, I’ve also looked at MONEY wasters…and have cut out a bunch that did not cut the mustard with testing. I still have a couple more things to get rid including something that just popped in my head, which I’ll do TODAY.

    So I agree with you…by watching and policing how my time is spent, I get more done and am happier about my stress level.

    Now to get a facelift on the design and I’m good to really rock.
    cj

  75. Such a great post Chris, I relate closely to what you are saying I am spending this week decluttering and getting clear on my goals for 2008

    Have found Leo Babautu’s Zen to Done very helpful

  76. Such a great post Chris, I relate closely to what you are saying I am spending this week decluttering and getting clear on my goals for 2008

    Have found Leo Babautu’s Zen to Done very helpful