Have you forgotten the value of good planning? Don’t worry we are all in the reaction phase of the social emergency as it impacts lives and livelihoods. Planning will have to wait for its rewrite!

Yet emergency or not, it is thus clear that no planning, or the lack of a viable plan, will result in simply more reactive behavior. That is hardly a good plan.

As the American fictionist, Michael Creighton, wrote in Jurassic Park, ‘Life finds a way’.

Fundamentally, planning for groups of people or individuals seems similar in structure and objective.

The process most used are:

  • Establish a Mission or Vision. What do you want to achieve?
  • Set goals. What needs to be done for the vision to realistically occur?
  • Objectives. Break down goals into specific measurable objectives.
  • Identify ones’ Strengths and Weaknesses,
  • Identify and Evaluate and Select Options.
  • Identify steps time frame to action all the above.

The above works for many: certainly, if you’re an adherent of Stephen Covey’s ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, then thinking about personal effectiveness is not new.

Another great approach comes from author Mark Manson, in his essay entitled ‘How to 80/20 your life’.

When I first considered how the 80/20 Principle applied to my own life, I instantly realized a few things.

  1. A few of my hobbies (television shows and video games) accounted for 80% of my time, but only brought me 20% of my fulfillment.
  2. I did not enjoy a few of my friends who I spent 80% of my time with (hence I was not happy in my social life).
  3. 80% of what I spent my money on was not useful or healthy for my lifestyle.

Recognizing these things eventually inspired some hefty changes in my choices and my lifestyle. I dropped video games and television for one. I made efforts to identify other friends to spend more time with, and I paid more attention to what I bought with my money.

And of course, the 80/20 Principle can still be applied to productivity at work.

What tasks do you spend 80% of the time doing that bring in 20% of the returns (i.e., checking email over and over, writing memos, taking a long time to make basic and unimportant decisions, etc.)?

What is the 20% of your work that gets you 80% of the credit and recognition from your team or boss?

And finally, you can apply the 80/20 Principle to your emotional life and relationships as well. What are the 20% of behaviors that cause 80% of the problems in your relationships? What are 20% of the conversations that create 80% of the intimacy with your partner?

These are important questions that most of us never even consider.

It does not occur to us that there is an efficiency to every aspect of our life, to everything we do. And not only is there an efficiency, but we have control and influence over that efficiency. It’s something we can take responsibility for and improve.

What changes could you make in your life today based on the 80/20 Principle?

One of the most obvious answers, of course, is possessions. It is highly likely that 80% of what you own brings you a small amount of your pleasure or happiness. An obvious place to start 80/20’ing yourself is with all of that extra stuff laying around.

Obviously, the 80/20 rule is not necessarily a rigid dictum to live by (do not let the 80/20 rule become the 80% that gives 20% of the results!). But think of it as a tool, a lens to view aspects of your life through. Sit down and think about it, maybe even write it out. You will likely be surprised by the realizations you come to

Plan formally or otherwise but don’t forget personal productivity comes from planning now for the future.