Pareto principle

It's 2011: Resolve to do less

January 10, 2011: 10:17 AM ET

Working more doesn't mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more. It's time to do away with the busywork that hinders workplace growth and productivity.

By Daniel Debow, contributor

In with the new year, out with the long list of useless resolutions.

I'm not against resolutions per se. Indeed, there's one that I think would help all managers: Resolve to do less.

I'm not encouraging managers to goof off. I'm urging them to do away with the busywork that hinders workplace growth and productivity.

Let's start with the 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle after the Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. The 80-20 rule has been applied to a wide range of disciplines. In the sales world, the rule suggests that 80% of a company's sales comes from 20% of its clients. In product design, it recommends that engineers focus most of their development effort (80%) on the most important (20%) product features. In other words, by avoiding feature creep, you can create elegant, simple products that people love -- Dropbox and iPhone, for example. When talking about workplace productivity, the 80-20 idea is that 80% of an employee's workday is delivering little or no value to the company or its customers. More

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