You don't need to do everything - do what really matters

Roughly 80% of wealth is owned by 20% of people, 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals, 20% of posts generate 80% of traffic, 20% of the employees do 80% of the work.

In 1896, Vilfredo Pareto discovered that around 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Welcome Pareto principle - otherwise also known as the 80/20 rule. This applies to almost everything if you start to think about it.

I recently read a book about getting things done, and it amazed me how the author did not seem to realize how this principle affects productivity.

The book laid out an elaborate network of steps, schemes, and organization techniques as well as categorizing your many lists and even sub-categorizing them in order to get more things done. I don't even mention the time the author suggested you to take to review your lists daily and weekly. Honestly, it made my head spin.

It even recommended to start from the bottom up when prioritizing your work - that means you do the menial things first.

This is terrible advice!

When it comes to getting things done, it's not about how much you can get done but what you get done. You can be like a hamster on the wheel doing menial tasks like crazy yet not getting anything done. At least nothing that actually matters. By the end of the day, you're exhausted from being in meetings, answering emails, answering phone calls, etc.

It's possible to be really busy and not move anywhere near to your goal.

80% of your output and results come from 20% of the things you do. That means not every task on your list has the same weight. Answering more or less meaningless emails does not have the same effect as working on your next product launch. Working on your startup by programming a crucial app is not equal to watching Youtube videos about marketing. You get my drift.

So, instead of treating all the tasks as equal, find just one or two things that are most important and will actually get you closer to your goal. Do everything else when you have time or leave it undone altogether. As long as you do the things that matter, you're moving towards your goal.

We can't humanly do every little single task that is thrown on our way. Some things have to be left undone, and that's okay. It's okay not to answer some texts, requests, emails, or skip meetings.