How To Save An Hour A Day By Applying The 80/20 Rule

By Shawna Bailey, - In Productivity

Picture of a man looking at a clock having saved time by applying the 80/20 rule

Photo Credit: stockphotosecrets

Last week I talked about the Ineffectiveness of Multitasking and how it will actually hinder us within the success of our small business.

While the ability to wear many hats and juggle a variety of tasks is a typical job requirement, it doesn’t have to be stressful or impede on our achievements.

I often ask my clients how they structure their working day and I get the same response every time:  “I book every minute that I possibly can.”  When I follow up with “what happens if something unexpected happens?” there is always silence.

The reality is that most of us consistently over schedule our time.  We work outside of the margins and leave absolutely no room for the daily things that pop up, or for the emergencies that come down the pipe.

The 80% Rule

In a nutshell, the 80% Rule is the amount of time that you will work on anything related to your business.  This includes (but is not limited to):  social media postings, blogging, marketing, relationships with customers and clients, and product management.  This means that 20% of your available working time will now be free to put out immediate fires, respond to urgent customer / marketing / product situations, or get a head start on tomorrow’s to-do list.

Applying The 80/20 Rule To Your Work Calendar

To apply the 80% Rule, determine how many hours you can work in a day (do not include your lunch or any breaks) and multiply that time by 20%.  For example, I start work day at 8:30am (when my children leave for school and work straight through until 3pm (when my kids come home).

I take that amount of working time (6.5hrs) and multiply it by 0.20.  Now, because I’ve been practicing this rule a long time (combined with knowing how my home routine runs), I am able to push that number into 1hr of “Emergency Time” a day instead of increasing it to 1.5hrs per day.  Clearly an emergency won’t come up every single day, so I take this extra time to get caught up on tomorrow’s assignments.  Following the 80% Rule also allows room for movement to rearrange my day or add in an extra appointment if necessary.

The key to making this rule successful is that it must be applied to every working day.

“But, but, but….”

After coaching the importance of this, my clients’ main concern is always that using the 80% Rule takes away from making money during the designated Emergency Time-slot.

But does it really?

The Reality

If you can’t effectively handle emergencies or seem flexible in front of clients and customers, what price are you paying?  Are you losing business?  How many stress-days have you taken because of all the tasks you are required to juggle with seemingly little time?

Now I’ll admit that the math is the easy part; it’s consistently applying the 80% Rule that’s difficult.  It does take practice and commitment, but I can tell you firsthand that it significantly benefited my business.  By applying the 80% Rule to my work calendar every day, I consistently maintain a professional image in front of every client (I am never overwhelmed), and am able to maintain flexibility (“need to change meeting times?  No problem!”).

Feeling overwhelmed managing your time in your small business?  Do you have your own secrets-to-success in managing your day?  Please leave a comment below and let us know how you manage your own busy schedule throughout the day.


Entrepreneur, Social Media Extraordinaire, and Small Business Specialist