Effective Action and The 80/20 Rule

This article is the fourth in a series of articles on How to Triple Your Income as a Consultant.

Taking effective action means taking the actions that produce the greatest results.  You won’t get paid a premium dollar unless you provide premium quality.  That means trimming the fat and doing the things that count the most.  Using the 80/20 rule is a big proponent to take effective action.

The 80/20 Rule for Effective Action

20% of your actions create 80% of your results.  When you take effective action, you’re acting in the 20% that produce 80% of your results. Acting ineffectively gets you 20% of your results with 80% of your actions.

When I worked as a Consultant I started putting in 20 hour work weeks.  This was more than enough time for me to produce the same results I created previously in a 40 hour work week.  The way I did this is by effectively using the 80/20 Rule.  I was acting in the 20% that was producing 80% of my results.

I started acting effectively out of necessity.  I had put myself on the line and made an agreement with the company as their consultant.  I agreed to bring all their projects in on time and under budget, therefore meeting their needs: to save time and money.

I also new that these were mere symptoms to the bigger problems.  Wasting time and money was the effect and not the cause.  The root cause of their problem came from mismanaged activities and unclear project objectives.

Because of my previous experience in project engineering, I knew what actions I needed to take in order to get the job done – to save time and money.  But there was one problem.  I only had half the time to do it.

Doing What Matters Most

Since I was getting paid to produce results I only focused on effective actions.  I didn’t spend much time writing emails or answering phone calls – because these actions wouldn’t create the results I was being paid to produce.

I started by identifying actions I could take to meet the company objectives, which was to save time and money.  Seeing that these were merely symptoms, I focused on solving the real problems: mismanaged activities and unclear objectives.

Again I took these two areas and focused on the one that would give me the biggest bang for my buck.  Remember the whole point here is to trim the fat and do what matters most. Because of my experience as a project engineer it was clear to me that 80% of the time projects would get delayed and cost the company money because the project objectives were unclear.

Knowing this made it very easy for me to direct my focus.  I put all my attention on setting a clear objective for each project.

Then I took it a step further.  I realized that there were several ways to set clear project objectives.  I then refined this list until I was left with only two very specific and measurable actions.  Actions I could take to move the project forward with the least amount of time and effort.

Here’s a birds-eye view of how I used the 80/20 Rule for my projects:

The 80/20 Rule for Project Management

Once I identified these actions, I got to work. I took effective action by focusing on what mattered most and doing it.  Consulting is about trimming the fat.  Doing the actions that matter most.  It’s working smarter, not harder.

If you want to get paid a premium dollar in any business, as a consultant or otherwise you have to offer great value for your time.  One of the fastest ways to do this is by taking effective action: Put energy and focus into the 20% of actions that will get you 80% of your results.

Once you’ve done that, it’s important to make these actions a habit.  The 80/20 rule is about saving your time so you can get more done with less.  I used this process to reduce my 40 hour work week to a 20 hour work week.  It could work just as easily in other areas of your life as well.

Become An Expert With The 80/20 Rule

If you follow the logic that 20% of your actions will produce 80% of your results, then consider this formula to build your credibility as an expert.  It could take you 1/4 the time to become an expert in your field if you focus on effective actions.

The better you are at what you do, the more you will get paid.  This depends entirely on your industry and the position you hold, but as a general rule of thumb companies will pay you more for your expertise; as long as that expertise helps them produce results.  And the better you get at producing results, the more you will be compensated.

It’s no different in project engineering.  I became really good at getting projects done on time and under budget.  In one situation I saved the company I was working for $500,000 on a $5,000,000 project.

That raised some eyebrows.  People started to talk.  It got executive attention and built my reputation as a project engineer that got results.  In a relatively short period of time I started getting all the project work that was “mission- critical,” because I was know to produce results in that area.

Do You Avoid Effective Action?

Most people will avoid taking effective action like the plague.  The reason:  most of these actions have some element of rejection built into them.

For example an effective action may require that you make a request of someone.  You might need help with a project and have to ask another person for their assistance.  And since your request making muscles are weak, you fear the rejection that will follow from this request – and therefore avoid the whole thing.

The bottom line.  People who take effective action don’t let rejection stop them.  They take action and get paid very well as a result.

You can demonstrate results all day long, but if you don’t have a certain element of likability nobody will hire you. People are attracted to those people who are attractive; not just in a physical sense, but those people who they enjoy being around – the people that make them feel good.  It’s natural to want to work with people that make you feel good.

You can read the next article in the series here:  How to Increase Your Attractiveness


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