"Which Three Time-Allocation Changes Could Increase My Productivity the Most? Why?"



From: "Business Course I" by Gary North
Lesson 60

Problem Description

"Time Management" is a ubiquitous phrase nowadays. And well it should be. Work productivity and life changes are accelerating. Simultaneously, worker autonomy generally, and freelancing or work-from-home positions specifically are on the rise.

For many of us, managing time is as important a job skill as any.

Enter Richard Koch and "The 80/20 Principle"

As important as time management is, the question at hand is really a matter of the "Pareto Law" applied to time. In this instance, it implies that 20% of your time accounts for 80% of your productivity. If it were possible for you to identify such activities and commit all of your energy to the most productive 20%, your output would increase to 400%.


As to how to best allocate time, first know the motivation.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. -Nietzsche

Actually, "productivity" is meta. Simply knowing the definition provides its own motivation. The point of changing time-allocation is to increase productivity, to create more for every hour you spend.

Productivity - the amount of output per a given input.

Or in the words of Richard Koch, to increase productivity is to "create more with less." In a nutshell, the takeaway message is: "Focus, focus, focus."

Knowing the "why," here is my "how"...

How to Allocate Time?

The background to this question is Koch's "80/20 Way." Just as Alfredo Pareto discovered that 20% of Italy's population owned 80% of the land, 20% of your time generates roughly 80% of your creations.

The strategic change is to maximize time in your highly productive "20%" of creativity.

For example, when you have eliminated all distractions and addressed all immediate demands - such as say, hunger - you can focus on the task at hand. The act of eliminating distractions is not directly creative. So if you halved the time and energy required to satisfy immediate demands and doubled the time spent on creation, you would be more productive.

Write billowing, great sails
Do no just read e-mails

That is the gist of the 80/20 Way.

Tactical Change

With strategy in place, we are in a position to talk tactics. Keeping in mind that the goal is to focus energy on the most productive work - and equally important, to remove energy from relatively non-productive work - I first identify three subjects.

Creative Endeavors

Here are my primary subject areas.

  1. Language - Work on the native language of my land of residence: Croatian.
  2. Copywriting - Build my side gig.
  3. E-commerce - Grow my business.

Positive Time Allocation

Now I will identify the top focus of each area. After allocating positive time, I identify works to scale back on.

  1. Language: conversational understanding
  2. Copywriting: daily practice at copy and content creation
  3. E-commerce: obtain product and equipment

In addition, I will apply the following tactic to my general work and study habits:

Negative Time Allocation

To further free up positive time in general, here are three low-productivity activities that I am squelching.

Activities Not Cut

To round out my inventory of time allocation, here are items that I will not reduce.

Additional Activities

Finally, here are activities for which I wish to increase time spent as the opportunity arises:


Conclusion: Why?

That is, why should this time reallocation improve productivity?

I chose each given item in order to devote high caliber energy to specific, high value actions. Specifically, I chose the

  1. The greatest obstacle
  2. Core talent development
  3. The first step in a planned sequence

These items have the greatest "bang for the buck," in terms of my allocated energy.


All of the above are logical consequences of deductive reasoning based on math. However, keep in mind

The assumption is that optimizing time spent on "the 20%" pays off proportionately. If you could just spend 100% of your time on the sweet-spot of productivity you would multiply its effects by 5 (and lose the benefit of the 80%, therefore net 4x or 400% cumulative).

But even if you could do so, when you are done you still have a 20% of the new 100% :-)

I just mention this to make it clear that the arithmatic is not hard and fast. But don't get hung up on the numbers. No matter how you cut it, there will always be more productive efforts, and less productive.

As to "positive feedback," in popular works this is considered a good thing. After all, it is "positive"! But in engineering terms, it is almost always a bad thing. Take for example, nuclear reactions. For conventional U-235 power plants, if control rods do not function as required, the three neutrons generated by one nuclear decay could generate as many as three new decays, and nine new neutrons. This rapidly runs out of control and is known as "positive feedback."

Here, I use the term for both meanings. The raw math does not cover that you feel good when you create your own works. And as you feel good, you create more: positive feedback in a good way.

The Lord helps those who help themselves.

The act of creation is positive feedback. You feel positive, and your productivity is positive.