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Productivity boosts: Pareto’s Principle, Parkinson’s Law, and the Pomodoro technique

Have you ever had a concept explained to you that instantly helped you perform better due to the insights you received?  We know how valuable that can be, which is why we're choosing to share three "P" principles with you today.

Pareto's Principle (Also known as the 80/20 rule)

In 1906, Italian intellectual Valfredo Pareto noticed that in his garden, 20% of the pea pods were responsible for 80% of the output of peas.  Fascinated by this discovery, he examined other fields, finding, for example, that 80% of the wealth in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.  Author Tim Ferriss further popularized this notion by pivoting it to apply to both personal and business activities by way of periodic audits.  For example, "Which 20% of customers are responsible for 80% of our revenue?" or "Which 20% of customers are responsible for 80% of our customer service issues?"  If you're wondering why you have no free time, you can use an 80/20 audit to find out what you're doing with 80% of your free time and adjust accordingly, using Essentialism as a guide.

Parkinson's Law

A British author named Cyril Northcote Parkinson wrote an essay for The Economist and eventually developed a book around the idea that "work expands to fill the time available for its completion."  What this means is that we should assign the right amount of time to any given task.  If you give yourself a week to do a 3-hour task, the task will mentally become larger and more stressful to fill up the time and space between now and when you will execute the task.  To use the law to your benefit, simply give yourself half the time you would normally have given yourself to accomplish a set of tasks.  You'll find that you will get more focus and you'll have the opportunity to find out if you're giving yourself more time than you really need to accomplish things.

The Pomodoro Technique

This technique was developed by a university student in the 1980s to improve productivity and focuses on creating momentum and encouraging flow.  You simply decide on a task to be done, set a timer for anywhere between 18-25 minutes (whatever is an optimal period for you) and then work until the timer goes off.  Mark a checkmark next to the task, take a 3-5 minute break, then set the timer again and continue.  After 4 of these "pomodoros" (which was named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used) give yourself a 15-30 minute break, and start the process again, until the task is completed.  Then move on to your next task.
You might not need all three of these techniques but we thought if you only used one it could be a game-changer for your productivity.  What are some of your favorite productivity tools?  Share them in the comments below to get a coupon for 25% off a hand or foot repair.
Ben Davis

About Ben Davis

A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.

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