The 50-30-20 rule

This time management technique was originally posted on Steve Pavlina's Personal Development Blog , and is intended to ensure that you spend enough time on the really important projects. To avoid getting bogged down in details, make sure you're spending:

  • 50% of your time on tasks that will still be benefiting you 5 years down the road. Examples include starting a new business, obtaining a new long-term client, developing a new product, or buying a house.

  • 30% of your time on tasks that will give you benefit for 2-5 years. Examples include working for a promotion, winning a new project bid, starting a new diet, or selling a new product.

  • 20% of your time on tasks that will benefit you for less than 2 years. Examples include filing, answering email, washing dishes, and paying bills.
This system is related to Steven Covey's Urgent vs Important, but goes one step further by suggesting actual guidelines for how much of your time should be spent on important things rather than urgent things.

The 50-30-20 rule is a nice compromise between two common extremes in time management:

  • People who tell you that you should only work on important things, ignoring the fact that bills have to get paid and dishes have to get washed.
  • People who (like most of us) start with the C-level, less-than-2-year-benefit tasks, and find that they fill up the entire day.
Of course you CAN spend every hour of the day working on little, urgent tasks that will be forgotten tomorrow. But if you start with those tasks, you'll find that you "never have time" to work on the big, important stuff that could really make a difference in your life. By limiting those tasks to 20% of your time, you'll force yourself to only do the ones that are truly urgent and important.

Doesn't sound like you? Go back to Time Management Hacks and look for a time management technique that fits you better.

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