The Web is flooded with countless strategies for maximizing productivity and increasing efficiency. Tools for productivity flood our phones’ app stores.
Currently, there are 1,594,374 apps available for download in the Google Play store, according to AppBrain. Of those apps, the second highest amount of apps available fall into the “lifestyle” category, meaning they help users search, shop, and socialize more efficiently.
The implications are clear: We want to accomplish more with less time, resources, and money.
The 80/20 Rule
Derived from Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto’s “Pareto Principle,” the 80/20 rule says that 20 percent of what you do each day produces 80 percent of your results. The theory suggests the majority of our efforts have a minimal effect on our productivity. Yet, productivity is key to receiving a sizable ROI. The trick, then, is to focus on that effective 20 percent, the work that creates business results.
Here are a few tips to help you achieve the best ROI on your business efforts:
Form a clear vision
The first step to managing time efficiently is to have a clear idea of your goals. Once you’re clear on what you’d like to achieve, you’ll have an easier time prioritizing what’s important. Knowing your goals will also help you stick with them despite all the distractions you encounter.
Separate active and reactive work
Pejman Ghadimi, founder of Secret Entourage, an organization that supports entrepreneurs and business owners, says one of his secrets to achieving maximum productivity is dividing your time into two sets: active work (70 percent) and reactive work (30 percent).
He says to spend most of your time on your business growth, or active work, while working on service and supporting your business reactively. Once mastered, reactive work can be delegated, then active work becomes what you’ll spend more time on — the “bread and butter” of your growth.
Ghadimi also recommends giving yourself weekly assessments to ensure you don’t get caught up supporting your business instead of growing it.
Know what to delegate or automate
Often, the most time-consuming tasks turn out to be the least lucrative in return. Jere Simpson, founder of KITEWIRE INC, has some thoughts on this:
“I like to look back and figure out what I spent my time on that didn’t make me enough money or happier,” Simpson said.
“I look at what could have been delegated or automated. When similar tasks come up, I remember the waste of yesterday and correct course today.”
Simpson recommends spending five minutes looking at what you’ve done each day so you can make better decisions for how to accomplish similar tasks tomorrow.
Test the idea before fully optimizing
Sometimes, people develop a product or idea entirely before going to the market to test it. But, the market is changing. What the market wanted a few months or years ago is no longer the same. That said, don’t fully optimize your idea based on only your own thoughts or past expertise.
Instead, take the initial idea and build it just enough to test it out. The Web could be your best friend in this case. You can use it to release a concept which has no real engineering behind it and see the response quickly.
For example, if you’ve developed a new product you think people will buy, launch a landing page for it. Build it to look legitimate, and include a place for people to pre-order. Through this, you will see how many people are genuinely interested before you spend time, effort, and money developing the product.
However, not all ideas are the best fit for Web testing. Look at Uber, for example. You can’t test demand for a consumer-to-consumer taxi service all online.
The Uber founders, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, had to get solid feedback from testing it in the field. So they prototyped the app and set a few black cars loose in New York City. Obviously, the service gathered a following and went on to become one of the leading transportation services in the world.
Only spend more time on what’s proven a hit
Once you determine your idea or product has a lucrative response through testing it, move on to fully developing it. As you develop, don’t get carried away tacking on additional bells and whistles you haven’t tested. Continue to test new features before you develop them to ensure the audience response will cover your effort.
When it comes to idea or product development, never fully commit your time and effort to something before you can prove it will work. You can achieve maximum return on minimum effort, as long as the little effort you exert is channeled toward proving its own impending return.