Time Management Strategies
Insights from Parkinson, Murphy, Pareto, and Eisenhower
Effective time management is a pivotal skill for anyone involved in sales. Arguably your time is your most valuable resource. Time management is a skill that has been studied and perfected by many notable individuals throughout history. Among them, four figures stand out for their unique contributions to the field of time management: Cyril Northcote Parkinson, Edward A. Murphy Jr., Vilfredo Pareto, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Each of these individuals has left a lasting legacy in the realm of time management through their distinct approaches and philosophies. Here we explore the time management thinking of Parkinson, Murphy, Pareto, and Eisenhower, and how their insights can help us make the most of our time.
Cyril Northcote Parkinson: The Parkinson’s Law
Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a British historian and author, is best known for formulating Parkinson’s Law, which states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Parkinson’s Law highlights the tendency for tasks to take up more time than they actually require if there are no time constraints in place.
Parkinson’s insight teaches us the importance of setting deadlines and creating time limits for our tasks. By imposing time constraints, we can increase our efficiency and productivity. When we have a clear sense of urgency, we are less likely to procrastinate or waste time on unimportant activities.
If there is no external deadline then create your own deadline. “I must complete this presentation before I go for lunch.” “We will complete the product development project before the end of the month.”
Edward A. Murphy Jr.: Murphy’s Law
Edward A. Murphy Jr., an American aerospace engineer, is often associated with “Murphy’s Law,” which states that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” While Murphy’s Law is more commonly applied to engineering and problem-solving, it has significant implications for time management as well.
Murphy’s Law reminds us to anticipate potential obstacles and challenges in our plans. Effective time management involves not only setting goals and deadlines but also considering what could disrupt our progress. By preparing for the unexpected, we can minimize disruptions and stay on track.
Murphy’s law suggests that a task will always take longer than we predict. The two ways to manage this are to be realistic with you’re your time allocation and on the other hand build in a cushion. But note that Parkinson’s Law indicates that if you allow extra time you will use it up!
Murphy’s law applies hugely to the sales process which so often takes longer than we we expect. Build in the time required to deal with delays and obstacles along the path to purchase
Wilfredo Pareto: The 80/20 Principle
Wilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist and sociologist, introduced the 80/20 Principle, also known as the Pareto Principle. This principle suggests that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. In the context of time management, this means that a small portion of our efforts often yields the most significant results.
To apply the 80/20 Principle to time management, identify the tasks or activities that contribute the most to your goals and prioritize them. Focus your energy on the most critical 20% of tasks that generate 80% of your desired outcomes. This approach helps you allocate your time and resources more efficiently.
Examine the 80% of your time that is delivering the minority of your result. How could you reduce the time taken by unproductive customers? Are you focusing on the “can win: must win” opportunities?
Dwight D. Eisenhower: The Eisenhower Matrix
Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States and a five-star general, is renowned for developing the Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix. This matrix categorizes tasks into four quadrants:
Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important Quadrant 2: Not Urgent but Important Quadrant 3: Urgent but Not Important Quadrant 4: Neither Urgent nor Important
Eisenhower’s Matrix helps individuals prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance. It encourages us to focus on tasks that are important but not necessarily urgent, as they have the most significant long-term impact.
The time management insights of Cyril Northcote Parkinson, Edward A. Murphy Jr., Vilfredo Pareto, and Dwight D. Eisenhower offer valuable lessons for salespeople seeking to improve their productivity and efficiency. By applying Parkinson’s Law, Murphy’s Law, the 80/20 Principle, and the Eisenhower Matrix, we can better allocate our time and resources, prioritize tasks effectively, and navigate the complexities of modern life with greater ease. These timeless principles continue to guide us toward making the most of our sales time and achieving our goals.
If you would like to talk in more detail about this article you can reach out to me Richard Higham via LinkedIn