In most instances, when there is a shift in business, the upshot is that executives pay the price with more of their time being sucked away.

But then many, perhaps even you, weigh your sacrifice against your hopes to be seen as a relevant, competent leader no matter your position. Unfortunately, this has you losing time with family along with your joy, fun, and freedom more often than not.

Let’s turn this on its ears. You must realize that leadership emerges from the inside out… and time is the ground you can own to distinguish yourself powerfully!

One of the most significant business minds understands this. Peter Drucker said: In a particular way, the executive’s time is everybody else’s time but his own. Everybody can move in on him, and usually, everybody does. He cannot shut himself off from these demands, but he must use the little time he can control for the important things. This is the secret of those few people who accomplish so much with so little apparent effort. They put first things first.

If your immediate response to this wisdom is: “Heck yes, but there is never time for me to ‘put first things first.’”

Pause for a minute. The blog addresses these concerns.

It turns out the big secret to “putting first things first” isn’t a secret at all. I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of it yourself.

The Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, advanced the theory in 1896, and generations have effectively employed it!

I don’t think there is a person alive who hasn’t heard of Pareto’s 80/20 theory. My pushback is that I rarely see anyone tapping into it consistently, which is where the power resides.

By the way, it is also the foundation to experiencing your successful career future.

Never imagine this equation means you focus exclusively on the 20 percent priorities while the other 80 percent are ignored or aren’t completed promptly. It’s more like the 20/80 criticality ratio is a top-of-mind awareness to manage your projects with a deft hand.

If you say: “But that 80 percent of my workload all has to be finished.” I would suggest you reexamine your assignments.

I can’t tell you how often clients find themselves stuck in the tyranny of busyness. Start by identifying and then pushing back on any less-than-urgent projects you can. Stop being so busy that you never ask yourself these relevant and clarifying questions: “What’s the project I should be working on now.” “What’s the most important leverage use of my time now?”

If you can’t lead your way out of the spiderweb of busyness, then discuss the overload with your boss, respectfully suggesting the assignment be re-shifted through a deadline change or reassigning it to someone else. If the response you receive is “everything is a priority,” then you’re working for someone who doesn’t have enough clout in the organization to generate a culture for employee engagement, or perhaps your boss is more focused on looking good to the top brass instead of you carrying a reasonable workload. Doesn’t this mean it’s time to rethink your commitments?

There is a catch to this seemingly magical 80/20 theory. As James Clear bestselling author of “Atomic Habits,” observes, The downside of being effective is that you often optimize for your past rather than your future.

There’s no question that if you intend to step into a more influential future, it is crucial to acquire higher-level skills—not merely the ones you’ve been tapping into for success today. To bring your hoped-for dreams to fruition, you must recalculate your 80/20 equation to meet your today’s prerequisites as well as develop your tomorrow ones. If you don’t, you will always live a career restricted to small, slow, incremental steps inhibiting your career trajectory.

The best part is that this equation has you assuming your authority as a leader of your current position, which signals you as your company’s future moving forward.

Are you interested in taking on this new expansive time habit consistently? Would you like to know how?i

Consider taking on a 66-day commitment. Should you choose, such an 80/20 mindset will facilitate lasting career behavior change where you employ time more effectively, thus increasing breathing space on your calendar.

Why 66 days? In case you haven’t heard the latest research and are still stuck on the old 33-day theory for generating habits. Phillippa Lally and her colleagues from University College London found that it takes at least two months (or about 66 days, on average) to form a new pattern.

And the good news is that you can be your authentic self. It doesn’t require a strict no-holds-barred mode, merely an 80/20 daily assessment of your projects. Research acknowledges that missing one day won’t break the habit! So, breathe easy. You can do this.

I hope you’re inclined to say hello to launching a commitment to the 80/20 theory. You’ll be well-satisfied with the results you achieve.



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