Adopt the 70/20/10 rule

| 26 September 2014

This article originally appeared on Moneyweb.

Dr John WentzelDr John Wentzel, CEO of Drake & Scull, says his top tip for increasing productivity is to manage time as a resource, like money. “We all instinctively put budgets together because we know that we have a finite amount of cash to spend. I manage time in the same way.”

He adds that progress is hugely motivating, “so having a mechanism to constantly know what needs to be done and systematically ticking things off not only gets you through the day in a productive way, but seeing things get done gives you a sense of progress.”

When it comes to meetings, Wentzel tries to identify what decisions and outcomes are required before going into the meeting in question. “It’s important to understand what the desired outcome of the meeting is at the start, to ensure that the objective is delivered. For example, is the purpose of the meeting to make a decision, to review progress, or to share information? Once everyone knows what the expected outcome is, manage toward that. I strictly adhere to time limits, and intervene when it’s clear the meeting is drifting from its objective.”

On busy days, meetings can be a pain in the backside. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a bunch of people together in an attempt to make decisions, only to get distracted and forced to arrange a second meeting.

But he believes that not all meetings need to be that way. His second tip to running successful meetings, is to identify which meetings he needs to be in. He explains how this is achieved: “Ask yourself when you get a meeting invite, what unique value do you bring to that meeting, and do they really need you there to make a decision. If not, do something more valuable with your time.”

Asked what his top time-saving tip is for new business owners, he gives the following advice: “Ask yourself if the additional time spent on a task is going to improve the outcome in a meaningful way. For example, do you spend a lot of time trying to get something perfect, when actually it adds no further value to the task? Try to adopt the 70/20/10 rule. For 70% of the activities, getting it 80% right is good enough; spending more time on it is not worth it – for example, pondering what colour pens to order for the office, or the colour of the furniture. For 20% getting it 90% is good enough, and for the final 10% – a client presentation, your product placement, or staff training, for example – invest the time. In the start-up phase always ask: if I spend more time on this activity, is it going to add value to my business?”