You want to work smarter, not harder. You want to be more efficient – more productive.

But what are some practical and applicable principles and techniques that can help you do that?

Here are four of the foundational principles you need to follow to achieve more in less time…

1. Pareto Principle

Pareto Principle – The 80/20 rule, which states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes or 80% of the results come from 20% of the work.

Think about it. In your work, business or side hustle, where do the results come from?

Asking this question will help you determine where to invest your time.

This also goes for your personal life as well. Exercise, dieting and personal development are a few examples.

This rule really shows you that you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to focus on what’s important.

Put this into action: Write down your top three most productive things in your work and in your personal life. Try to put at least 80% of your focus on your top items and watch the results role in. You may find that you’re spending 80% of your time on things that really don’t matter – things that are only getting you 20% of the results.

2. Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law – An adage that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. In other words, if you plan a one hour block for a task, you will work at a pace that gets the task done in an hour.

If I plan to write an article in two days, I will write it in two days. If I plan for 90 minutes, I’ll get it done in 90 minutes.

This is one of those crazy laws of life that just seems to work. Use it your advantage.

Most importantly, if you know you can finish something within a given time period, stop wasting your time and dragging it out.

Put this into action: Use an actual timer and start setting some limits. Set a time to begin and a time to stop working.

3. Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro Technique – The process of breaking your work into chunks. 25 minutes of work, followed by a 5 minute break – that’s one pomodoro. Once you complete four pomodoros, take a longer break (20-30 minutes).

Productivity tips

Parkinson’s Law is in full force with the Pomodoro Technique. Before long, you’ll know what you’re capable of during a 25 minutes pomodoro and you will start knocking things out.

Put this into action: Get a timer and start the clock. Work for 25 minutes, rest for five. After four times, take a 30 minutes break. Then repeat the process.

4. Eisenhower Matrix

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important. -Dwight Eisenhower

I’ve heard this referred to as many different things and countless authors have used it in their books, but it’s most commonly referred to as the Eisenhower Matrix. It’s as simple as it looks, but it does require you to be honest about your tasks.

You’ll separate everything you need to do for the day into four categories:

  • Urgent and important (do these immediately).
  • Important, but not urgent (create your plan to do these).
  • Urgent, but not important (delegate or automate these).
  • Neither urgent nor important (eliminate these).

eisenhower matrix

The problem is that we tend to focus too much of our time on the “urgent, but not important” and too little of our time on the “important, but not urgent”. And that’s completely backwards. Often, the “important, but not urgent” things are going to produce the greatest results in your life.

If something is important, but not urgent, that means 1) it could be one of the most important things you’ll ever do, and 2) it’s easy to keeping putting it off.

Put this into action: Create your own box. It doesn’t need to be fancy; a simple paper and pen box will do. Write down a list of everything you need to do (or could do) today. Put each item in it’s place. Then follow the place in parenthesis above for each item (ex: do urgent and important tasks immediately, eliminate neither urgent nor important tasks, etc.).

Do you implement these principles? Which one is your favorite?