Beyond The 80/20 Rule: This Formula Might Make You Rethink Time Management

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Beyond The 80/20 Rule: This Formula Might Make You Rethink Time Management

Kim ran a successful professional services firm with a staff of 28 and clients in a dozen states. But when she shared her 2017 goals with me, I saw something that gave me pause. There, under her revenue and profit goals for the year, was this sentence: “Eliminate 12 hours a month of non-revenue work.”

Kim understandably believed that the most valuable work she could do for her business was to churn out more billable hours–to turn some of her activities that don’t earn revenue into those that do. But that’s flawed thinking. Of course billable hours create value, in a sense that couldn’t be easier to quantify; Kim bills at $325 an hour. Yet if all she does is focus on converting non-revenue work into more billable hours, she’ll soon be in for a rude awakening.

The reason why has to do with the all-too-familiar “80/20 rule,” otherwise known as the “Pareto principle,” which states that 80% of your efforts produce only 20% of your results, while the remaining 20% of your efforts drive 80% of your results. It’s not that this isn’t true–in my experience, and in loads of other professionals’ experience, it is–it’s just that it’s too often mistaken for a time management strategy: Find that 20% sweet spot, and just do more of whatever it consists of.


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Matthew Fritz is a leader and mentor in the field of complex organizational change, emotional intelligence, and organization strategy. A successful DoD senior-acquisition program manager and test leader, Matt has earned documented success in the areas of test and evaluation, assessment, technology development and flight operations. He has specialized experience in cost, schedule and performance management and is an active duty Field-Grade Officer with command-experience in the United States Air Force. Matt is also a certified acquisition professional, as well as a certified Emotional Intelligence Trainer/Practitioner. He is the Author of an instructional book entitled, “Leveraging Your LinkedIn Profile for Success” and actively blogs with other military leaders at, as well as his personal blog at He and his wife, Stacy, enjoy life with their daughter and son in New Mexico.

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