Pareto your time and energy across the day so you’re always the best of yourself: your mood, motivation, and ability to do specific tasks vary. A Pareto approach to your time and energy is a powerful method to maximize productivity and well-being and any tradeoff you may have between these two somehow contradictory goals.
Table of Contents
- 1 Pareto Yourself: The Best Of You, Now!
- 2 The Philosophy of the Pareto Principle
- 3 Pareto Your Time And Energy But Know Yourself First
- 4 What Is The Risk Of Using Your Most Productive Hours To Execute The Most Cognitively Intensive Tasks?
- 5 Strategy For Your Least Productive Hours Of The Day
- 6 Pareto Your Time and Energy: Conclusion
“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” – Theophrastus
Pareto Yourself: The Best Of You, Now!
Listening to yourself, identifying the most critical tasks, and planning ahead accordingly is the way to go to maximize your productivity and wellbeing. In short, Pareto your time and energy to be the best of you. Life is short, so better get the most of it!
The Pareto Principle can be advantageously applied to your life to improve your well-being on a daily basis with the 20/80 rule, as described in this article. However, the Pareto Principle is usually more famous as a method to increase productivity.
A more holistic Pareto approach is taken here: productivity and wellbeing are wrapped up in a single approach.
The Philosophy of the Pareto Principle
In its simplest form, the Pareto Principle states that, more often than not, the majority of a global outcome is driven by a minority of drivers. If you’re unfamiliar with the Pareto Principle and 80/20 rule, please check this almost comprehensive Pareto Principle FAQ.
Pareto is technically not a verb but a naming coming from Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian economist and sociologist who established the Pareto Principle. For simplicity, let us use Pareto as a verb, like some people use Google as a verb.
Pareto Your Time And Energy But Know Yourself First
Your energy level should be the primary guideline to plan your tasks: no hours of the day are created equal, and one may feel more energized in the morning and more drained in the evening, or vice-versa.
If you don’t know yourself, note how you feel throughout the day. While that’s slightly out of topic, observing and documenting how you feel depending on your sleep (duration, quality), diet, and fitness activity may bring valuable insights for this time management exercise.
On my end, I’m feeling sharper than usual between 7:45 am, and 9:15 am, about one hour after my first coffee brew. That’s for the morning. Of course, the exact timing may vary slightly depending on the circumstances, but that’s a fair estimate. Later on, after my daily fitness session and a small Tanzanian long black, I feel terrific for about 2 hours, from 1:45 pm to 3:45 pm. It makes a total of 3.5 hours a day. 3.5 hours of focus work during which I feel – and most probably I am – very productive. I’m out of bed from 6 am to 11 pm, i.e., 18 hours. These highly productive hours represent about 3.5/18 ~ 20% of my daily time.
Do I produce 80% of my daily output during these timeframes? I would be lying to tell you that’s the case, as I never tried to measure my output precisely. So I cannot affirm that the 80/20 Rule applies here. However, I know I’m much more effective during these magic hours than at other times of the day. I use these specific hours for my most brain-intensive activities: that’s how I Pareto my time and energy.
Know yourself, and pick activities that matter to you
Knowing the time of the day during which you feel the best is one thing.
Using these precious timeslots to execute something meaningful to you is another thing. In the short term, you may be in a situation where you don’t have much flexibility—in the long run, allocating your most precious hours to activities relevant to you is critical to be the best of you.
Put it differently, “Pareto Your time” to maximize your productivity will not lead anywhere good if it is not meaningful to you.
That’s a basic of well-being, and Alisa Cohn explained it very well in the Tim Ferris Show: Prenups for Startup Founders, How to Reinvent Your Career, the Importance of “Pre-Mortems,” and the Three Selves (#539)
People don’t feel burned out because they are working long hours or working hard; people feel burned out when they are wasting their time when things are hard to do or spending their time in these endless meetings that don’t feel relevant to them. That’s part of the unlock; it’s also efficient, effective in your meetings, and it’s also to recognize that people should be freed and unlocked to do their work and be happier when they are putting their time and effort into things that matter. – Alisa Cohn
What Is The Risk Of Using Your Most Productive Hours To Execute The Most Cognitively Intensive Tasks?
Following the advice above to “Pareto your Time and Energy,” you will execute the most brain-intensive activities during your most productive hours. Remember that the most brain-intensive tasks are not necessarily the most critical. For a given day, if your tasks are prioritized with the Eisenhower Method, the most important and urgent tasks are – in theory – those with the highest priorities.
In practice, this priority established by the Eisenhower Matrix should be adjusted to maximize your productive hours. This is where a Pareto Approach to your energy level and time makes sense.
For example, an important and urgent task is submitting an application before a deadline. Using this example, if the application process is at this stage mainly about filling out online forms and attaching the relevant files, don’t fall into the trap of doing this task during your most productive hours, even if this task is a high-priority one. Of course, keep an eye on the deadline to not miss it, but focus on the “tedious” tasks while your energy is at your highest level. Finalizing the application during your most precious hours would be a waste of “energy” and be contrary to what an optimal Pareto Approach to your time and energy should be.
Strategy For Your Least Productive Hours Of The Day
Not all hours of the day are created equal, and understandably, you don’t want to do tedious tasks when you’re drained. When you are exhausted, you usually only think about finishing your day and move on to relax. How do you keep going and deliver when you’re in your least productive hours at the end of the day?
Some people look forward to meeting their partner or family or “simply” chillax around a fresh beer when they are done. So get it done! To get things done when you’re tired, do tasks with little or no execution risk and require little or no brainpower. It can be deleting useless emails and easy administration like paying invoices and responding to emails that need a simple answer.
Your tiredness will be mitigated by the pleasure of getting things done and getting closer to your “end of the day” on a positive note. It will give you positive momentum and immediate satisfaction (as explained by Laborit’s Law Theory). By choosing easy tasks during your least productive hours, you ensure that you will confidently accomplish a few things.
Time is the only thing in life that you can never get back once it’s gone.
Pareto Your Time and Energy: Conclusion
A task prioritization method like the Eisenhower Matrix uses two task-related dimensions to establish priorities: importance and urgency. Although the Eisenhower Matrix is a solid approach to organizing your time, it doesn’t put one’s energy level in perspective to execute these tasks.
Adjusting the task priorities indicated by the Eisenhower Matrix with your perspective on your energy level across the day is the key to executing faster overall. Faster execution means more time for yourself and your endeavors: this is how you Pareto Your Time And Energy 🙂