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Wellness 101: Pareto Your Time & Energy To Be Your Best-Self

Sep 26, 2021 | Business & Life Advice, Time Management

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 across the day. A Pareto approach to your time and energy is a powerful method to maximize productivity and wellbeing and any tradeoff you may have between these two somehow contradictory goals.

“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 large majority of a global outcome is driven by a minority of drivers. If you’re not familiar with the Pareto Principle and 80/20 rule, feel free to 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 the name Pareto as a verb in the same way some people use Google as a verb.

Pareto Your Time And Energy To Be Your Best-Self - Productivity 101 - ParetoAnalysis.Tools

 Pareto Your Time And Energy But Know Yourself First

Your energy level should be the primary guideline to plan your tasks ahead: 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 already, take note of how you feel across 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, exact timing may vary slightly depending on the circumstances, but that’s a fair estimate. Later on, after my daily fitness session and small Tanzanian long-black, I’m feeling 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 my 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 telling 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 that 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 in a nutshell.

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?

If you follow the advice above to “Pareto your Time and Energy”, you will be executing the most brain-intensive activities during your most productive hours. Keep in mind 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 get the most of your productive hours. This is where a Pareto Approach to your energy level and time makes sense.

As an example, an important and urgent task can be submitting an application before a deadline. Using this example, if the application process is at this stage mainly about filling 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.

Pareto your Time And Energy to Be Your Best-Self

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 to keep going and deliver when you’re in your least productive hours, let’s say the end of the day?

Some people are looking forward to meeting their partner, 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 that carry 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.

By choosing easy tasks during your least productive hours, you ensure that you will accomplish a few things with certainty. It will give you positive momentum and immediate satisfaction (as explained by the Laborit’s Law Theory). Your level of tiredness will be mitigated by the pleasure of getting things done and getting closer to your “end of the day” on a positive note.

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: their importance and urgency. Although the Eisenhower-Matrix is a solid approach to organizing your time, it doesn’t put in perspective one’s energy level to execute these tasks.

Adjusting the tasks 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 personal endeavors: this is how you Pareto Your Time And Energy 🙂

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