Would you be surprised to hear your performance improves and your stress decreases as you focus on what and what not to pay attention to at work?
Have you ever taken a break from your busy day to rate yourself on how effective you’ve been at preventing the daily stressors you face? If you did, and you scored yourself dismally low, you might want to consider incorporating the Pareto 80/20 approach for reducing stress.
In a nutshell, the principle holds 80 percent of your time spent on decisions, projects, products, and customers typically only produces 20 percent of your results. While the remaining 20 percent of your attention produces a whopping 80 percent of your achievements—meaning there’s massive leverage for you in identifying those significant 20 percent results producers.
Let’s use this theory to delve into one workload stressor—decision-making—which is no small workday matter. In case you don’t know, research by Cornell University highlights: adults make approximately 35,000 remote decisions each day! The decision-making aspects of your job, whether conscious or unconscious, have an enormous impact on the stress you experience. Check out this Four-Step Stress Reducer Analysis to improve productivity.
First Step—Ask Yourself: What are the decisions you have on your plate right now? Write them all down. As you put pen to paper, they become real instead of worrisome, on-steroid, bees buzzing around in your head. The mere act of recording relieves stress because inside your brain they always seem “biglier” (bigger and uglier) than when captured and recorded.
Second Step—Break It Down: Identify the two Pareto categories by determining what impact each decision will have on your company’s future. This question often causes you to recognize where your efforts will produce 80 percent of your decision results. Focusing your attention on these few will generate a positive impact for both your company and your career.
Third Step—Recognize The Rest: Which stressors will produce only 20 percent of your expected decision workload results, yet require you to spend 80 percent of your attention? Acknowledge, and then, commit to not touching decision black holes until and unless you’ve knocked off the weighty decisions or one becomes a priority. Keep in mind, when you spend time, and mental efforts on low leverage decisions, they will diffuse your time and energy. This focus leaves you little power to pay attention to areas where you can and have the capacity to produce powerful results.
Fourth Step—Think R.E.D.: With your two lists in place, you’ve already reduced your stress. It’s time to up the ante by expanding the results produced through thinking R.E.D. (Reduce, Eliminate, or Delegate)! Many executives discover a number of the decisions on their list could and should be the charge of someone lower in the organizational chart. So, stop thinking only me. Begin playing a better game—consider who will gain from taking it on!
You’ve now employed this four-step equation for decision-making. Since you’re the most influential advocate for change in your work and life, give yourself the gift of deliberately removing one stressor after another to become the leader in your world. When you’re following this Four-Step Stress Reducer Analysis, you’ll transform your life one stress elimination at a time. Only you can recognize what is the right 80/20 ratio for you because you’re the one who knows what your stressors are.