Are you wrkonig hrad or wkonrig sramt?

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There is an e-mail doing the rounds of the internet at the moment which even warranted a recent article in the Times.

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosnt mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. amzanig huh?

I am not suggesting that your next report or letter should be written in this style - that could possibly be a career shortening event. For the perfectionists amongst you, it is important to remember that we can sometimes spend too much time on the detail, and forget that the priority is the communicating and the content of the message. How much time do you spend on the core task and how much do you spend perfecting it?

In the late 1800s, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto established that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the population. Whilst gardening, he also noted that 20% of the peapods that were harvested yielded 80% of the peas. It is from this that the Pareto Principle or the 80:20 rule was born. In the piece above, 20% of the letters in the right place allows you to read 80% of the words.

This principle can be applied to many areas of your working life.
Do 80% of decisions come from 20% of the meeting time?
Are 80% of your management headaches caused by just 20% of your problems?
Are 80% of your measurable results and progress from 20% of your daily tasks?
Are 80% of interruptions from the same 20% of the people?
Are 80% of your successful sales from 20% of the sales force?
Are 80% of customers complaints about the same 20% of your products or services?
Do 80% of your visitors see only 20% of your website?
Does 80% of your revenue come from 20% of your customers?

The assertion of the Pareto Principle is that a small number of events produce the majority of the results. It may not be a hard and fast ratio but the principle is valid.
Ray Kroc the founder of McDonalds built a huge business using this concept. He reduced the menu so that he only sold the food that most customers wanted. He was then able to serve food extremely fast and hot. And then what happened.....

The value of the Pareto principle for you is to remind you to focus on the 20% that matters. Try to focus 80% of your time and energy on the 20% of your work that will bring the most significant results. Do not just work smart, work smart on the right things.

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