Thursday, 7 January 2010

Pareto Principle

Here is a quote from Brian Tracey's book 'Eat that Frog - 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time '

'You have probably heard of the 'Pareto Principle', named after it's founder, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who first wrote about it in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in his society seemed to divide naturally into what he called the “vital few,” the top 20 percent in terms of money and influence, and the “trivial many,” the bottom 80 percent. 

He later discovered that virtually all economic activity was subject to this principle as well. For example, this principle says that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results, 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your sales, 20 percent of your products or services will account for 80 percent of your profits, 20 percent of your tasks will account for 80 percent of the value of what you do, and so on. This means that if you have a list of ten items to do, two of those items will turn out to be worth five or ten times or more than the other eight items put together.'  

Tracey's book recommends that you identify the most difficult item on your 'to do' list every morning and tackle that one first. In his view, the most difficult item is likely to be 'worth' more than the other items on the list and will generate more value than the other tasks. Only once the 20 percent tasks have been finished should you move on to the less valuable 80 percent tasks.

In the past 12 months there have been periods where I have worked so hard that I have burned myself out. My hard work has yielded results but at considerable cost to my health and other areas of my life. Operating in such a dysfunctional way has impacted on the quality of my work.

I think at times I have put my energy and directed my focus into the more trivial 80 percent of the task rather than directing it to the more valuable 20 percent tasks and I'm now seeking to rectify that with Brian Tracey's advice in mind.

Which brings me to my thoughts for today. With a theatre production, what constitutes the top 20 percent valuable activity? In the past three days I have been working really hard on organisational tasks including arranging a casting session and fostering the interest of various performers and creative team. This energy expenditure has detracted from my writing process. A well constructed play at the heart of the production is essential for it's success, but as I see it, if the performers are not skilled or confident in delivery, having been carefully selected, well prepared and rehearsed, any good writing will fall by the wayside. Or will it? Will good writing ring true, even in the light of a terrible production? Would I be better off ploughing my heart and soul into a breathtaking text and then knocking the production together ad hoc, further down the line?

To date, I have always said that integrity is paramount, and that I'd rather put together a production with a very solid foundation than sell myself down the river for a few bells and whistles. However, perhaps my value system is different to other people's? 

Does anyone else think that the integrity of the production text is top priority?

My next question is, is writing this blog really in my 20 percent value creating activity? Right now, probably not, but in the long term? Possibly?!

And on that note, I am going to crack on with my most difficult task of the day.

Posted via web from northerncreative's posterous

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