Today we’re going to learn about three habits that will change your life forever.

The 80/20 principle

In the late 1800s, an economist named Wilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of the land in his home country was owned by 20% of the population. Turns out the land in nearly every major country is distributed the exact same way. Years later a consultant named Joseph Juran realized the same pattern applies to business. The Pareto or 80/20 principle suggests that 80 percent of your sales will come from 20% of your clients but the 80/20 principle isn’t limited to just land or sales. In athletics, 20 percent of your exercises will yield 80% of your gains. In customer service, 20 percent of your customers will make up 80 percent of your complaints. Even in programming fixing the top 20 percent of bugs will resolve 80 percent of the user’s issues.

Over the years all sorts of mathematical evidence have come out in support of the 80/20 principle, something called power law can even predict everything from the frequency of last names to the size of craters on the moon. How can the 80/20 principle affect your life, well the principle applies to work and success to 80% of your success will come from 20% of your work.

This means we waste the vast majority of our time according to the Harvard Business Review. Almost everything we do is unimportant. We spend 80 percent of our time distracted or inattentive. We’re led astray by our environments, we’re sidetracked by technology. Even when we are working only a small percentage is actually worth our time. We’d like to think that we get as much out of our work as we put into it but that just isn’t true. Someone who spends eight hours at work, every day could accomplish less than someone who only eight hours a week. The key is to identify that all-important 20%. The 80/20 principle is also known as the law of the vital few. If that 20% disappeared you to fail, you’d make no progress but if you concentrate on that 20% the majority will flourish making you successful in the long run. So how do you put the 80/20 principle into practice, when you make your to-do list order it from most to least important, then cross out the bottom 80% that top 20% is where the majority of your success will come from.

The idea is to increase your productivity by targeting the vital few don’t try to do everything, don’t try to make everything perfect, and make sure you never let a day go by without working on that top 20%. It may only take you an hour a day but that hour will have a bigger impact than the remaining 23 hours.

Daily routines

Your routine should create a framework for your day. We say routines because ideally, you should have two of them one in the morning and one at night. Morning routines are intended to stimulate your body and brain. A good night’s sleep supplies you with energy so your morning routine should amplify it and give it direction. A morning workout, for example, invigorates you by jump-starting your metabolism and flooding your body with endorphins consistency is especially important for morning routines. Many people find it challenging to motivate themselves to work out or spend time setting goals it may be tough at first but a consistent morning routine will help you build self-discipline.

Not only will this make your routines easier but the benefits will also carry over into your work. You’ll have an easier time focusing while feeling confident and clear-headed so what should a strong morning routine look like they actually differ for everyone. You ultimately decide the routine that works best for you.

Some people run to eat breakfast and listen to a podcast others make lists and read the newspaper whatever routine you choose make sure it leaves you energized and inspired.

So what about after a long day of work, what should you do then the purpose of an evening routine is to wind your body down. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as jumping in bed and binging a series on Netflix. A strong evening routine nourishes your brain while gradually preparing for bed. You can use this time to plan the next day reflect or do something fun. Many successful people set aside a block of time at night to work on their hobbies. As important as it is to work it’s just as necessary to relieve stress and do what you love. Make sure to give your brain some creative freedom while keeping it active and ambitious.

Get back to them

Imagine you’re having a busy week at work. When a co-worker asks you for a favor your boss passed them a huge assignment, so they’re wondering if you can share the load. This means hours of extra work but you aren’t sure if you have the time or energy to handle anything more. So what do you tell them. There are several ways to navigate this situation many of which leave you in a rough spot. Maybe you’re the kind of person who would jump at the opportunity, whether you like helping people or feel too guilty to say no you commit to something you can’t handle. It always feels satisfying and rewarding in the moment watching them smile or pay you compliments eases that initial batch of anxiety but you soon find yourself overwhelmed.

The quality of your work starts to suffer you’ve piled on an extra helping of stress and it won’t go down easy. Maybe saying yes isn’t your problem let’s say you turn your coworker down instead you’re already worried about your current work and don’t want to risk over burdening yourself. You might even be scared of the extra pressure. This project could potentially be a giant step forward in your career which can be intimidating. So naturally you run away.

Now you have to watch as your co-worker aces the assignment and gets that promotion you were hoping for. So saying yes is reckless and saying no is cowardly. Well the mistake here isn’t the actual decision it’s how quickly you made it. In both situations you responded right away you went with your knee-jerk reaction which is like driving blind. You may know how to drive straight but you still won’t see the tree in the middle of the road. In other words you’re committing to something without considering your own personal obstacles and limitations but that doesn’t mean you should never drive. You shouldn’t say no to everything assuming that you’re going to crash and burn then you won’t go anywhere you’ll never make any progress because you’re hiding in a safe little bubble. The key is to make educated and mindful decisions. So before you choose give yourself time to think it over.

The best part is you’ll never offend anyone by taking time to think. You’ll communicate that you value your own time while showing that you’re taking their decision seriously. Even if you turn them down a thorough no is always better than a half-hearted yes.