The 80:20 LEADER – FOCUS on what counts to level up your leadership!

The secret to maximizing your impact as a leader comes from a principle discovered by a 19th century economist.

Vilfredo Pareto figured out that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people.

And this 80:20 idea holds true in leadership, management and all sorts of other things too.

So to be an 80 20 leader, you have to leverage this principle to have the most impact.

First… Find the 20% of the stuff your team does that carries 80% of the problems and tackle those issues first.

It might be one process that causes headaches for everyone on your team and is holding down morale.

It might be ONE customer who is ALWAYS a nightmare to deal with. Or one colleague that is always a nightmare to deal with…

Whatever it is, find the problems to solve that will improve things HUGELY… and tackle those.

Second… Find the 20% of your team’s work that brings 80% of their impact on your organisation. And make sure everyone on the team knows what it is, and focuses hard on it.

What’s the process your team runs that everyone else relies on? What’s the hour of the day, or the time of the year that REALLY matters for your corner of the business?

Sit down with your team, go through everything you do, and work out the one or two really big important tasks that everything else hangs on. Then make sure you get THOSE right! And improve them if you can!

Third… Find the 20% of YOUR work, that delivers 80% of your value to your team and zero in on that.

THAT stuff is your “important” work. The things that only YOU can do… Because of your position, or your knowledge and experience, or your personality… Those are the things that will really make a difference.

And some of it will arrive in your inbox day by day… But some of it will be the things that you need to SCHEDULE to get them done. The changes you want to make, the new things you want to create. The stuff that is important but never urgent…

To be an 80 20 leader you need be constantly identifying the 20% or work that has most impact or causes most problems and focus your attention there.

The biggest thing you can do to achieve this, is to make sure you plan every day carefully. So grab my Daily Checklist by hitting the button below, to stay on top of your priorities, look after your team and look after yourself.


Rethink your TO-DO list – CONTROL YOUR INBOX with this simple system!

How do you know what you’re going to do today? Do you have a ToDo list of some kind? A pile of stuff that sits there looking at you, growing every day, making you feel like you’re not getting anything done…

Now. To beat this, you need to rethink your to do list and get control of your inbox. And this comes down to TWO systems.  You need a system to PLAN every day…

AND you need a system for handling new things that come to you DURING the day.

I’m going to give you a really simple system for dealing with the rush of things that constantly arrive in your inbox… So that you can take control, and create space to do the things that really matter.

OK… To START you need to ask THREE questions for EVERYTHING that comes up, whether it’s emails in your inbox, conversations in the corridor or on the shop floor, these three questions

  1. Is this so important that I need to drop everything and focus entirely on this right now?
  2. Can I delegate this to someone else?
  3. Can I deal with this in less than 2 minutes?

If the answer to any of these questions is YES, then that’s what you do.

If it’s SO important that it needs your attention now… do it. If there’s a fire, deal with it.

If you can delegate it to someone else, do it. Forward the email on to someone. Or give the person who asked you the question permission and authority to deal with the situation.

If you can sort things yourself in less than 2 minutes, just do it. Then and there.

But If the answer to these three questions is NO, it’s not crucial enough to drop everything, you can’t delegate it, and it’ll take more than two minutes to deal with… move the issue into a pile for TOMORROW.

I know it’s traditional to say “never put off until tomorrow something you can get done today”.

But if you want to rethink your todo list and get control of your inbox, you NEED to put off till tomorrow as much INCOMING STUFF as you can, so you can focus on what you PLANNED to do today.

How do you “reserve things for tomorrow”?

If we’re talking about conversations with people, or if you work best on paper… Keep a day to a page diary. And anything you need to reserve until tomorrow, write it on the relevant page in your diary. So you’re ORGANISING your to-do list into daily blocks.

If you work on email it’s easier. Just create an ACTION folder off of your inbox. Anything you want to reserve until tomorrow, throw into that folder, and then your email system adds the days for you, right? EVERYTHING ELSE… archive. The stuff you deal with quickly. The stuff you delegate away by forwarding it on. And the stuff you read and don’t need to do anything with. Just archive it.

And that’s your first system. Three questions and a folder or diary is all you need to handle the waves of stuff that come at you every day. Dealing with the crucial things and the quick things. Delegating what you can. And reserving everything else until tomorrow.

And then… When you plan your tomorrow… You include time to work through those items you’ve reserved. So now you need your second system… To PLAN every day… and for that… You need a daily checklist. You could read my previous post or just…

Grab the checklist by hitting the button below.


Daily CHECKLIST for New LEADERS… Going Beyond the To-Do list to UPGRADE your LEADERSHIP!

With a simple checklist you can plan your day in just 5 minutes, stay on top of your key priorities, balance looking after your people and getting the job done… AND look after yourself.

Focusing on the right things is a key leadership skill, and I have a one page checklist to make sure you’re doing that EVERY SINGLE DAY.

You can get it at, and I’m going to talk you through how it works – because even if you don’t go download it… You can still use these ideas to keep yourself on track.

So what happens is… The checklist has small groups of questions that you need to ask yourself every day.

The first group is about ongoing priorities. And asks…

  • What’s the most important thing going on right now?
  • What’s the impact on my team?
  • What must my response to this include or achieve?

Most days you’re not going to change the answers to these questions. The most important thing might be the big trade fair in two weeks time. Or the planning bid you’re submitting to your boss next month. Whatever it is it’ll just sit there for a while.

But it’s WORTH REMINDING YOURSELF every day of the MOST important thing on your plate right now. Firstly to make sure that day to day, week to week, you ARE devoting time to it. And secondly to just double check that nothing else has emerged to overtake it. You know… Something like… the COVID rules changing and you have to send everyone home suddenly! So… You have to check in with the ongoing priorities, but they don’t necessarily drive actions EVERY day. For that… You need the next group.

Which is the real daily planning questions…. And you need to ask yourself this stuff at the END of the day, planning for TOMORROW. And the first question is…

  • Have I been focusing enough on both tasks AND people?

Some days you need to really make sure the job is getting done. And some days you need to focus on looking after your team. When things get stressful and busy it is easy to focus too much on the tasks, and not enough on the people. So it’s worth checking in with yourself every day about whether you’ve been getting the balance right.

Then you need to ask yourself…

  • What’s the most important thing I need to do tomorrow?
  • What’s the time I’ll allocate for it?

You need to know your most important task, and you NEED to schedule time for it. For some people  first thing in the morning is most important task time. For others it’s right after lunch. Just make sure you know what’s top of the list, and when you’re going to do it.

Next, you ask yourself…

  • What are the other things I have to get done…?

It’s all very well knowing your most important thing. But you’ll have other things to do. If you run a good inbox system, you’ll have reserved some things for tomorrow. You might have meetings in the diary. Calls to make and the regular day to day tasks. Most days you can’t just dump everything else because of your most important thing, so it’s important to remind yourself of what else needs to get done and make sure you have time for it.

Next question…

  • How will I maintain my own wellbeing?

When you start a new leadership role, or when things get busy, often the first things we push to the side, are the very things that keep us sane. So… Ask yourself every day… How am I looking after myself? Whether it’s the gym, or reading, or walking. Whatever it is that you do to keep yourself on an even keel, remember it, and make time to do it.

So as I said, you ask yourself all of these questions at the END of the day, planning for tomorrow.

And then when tomorrow morning comes, the first thing you do is check in and ask yourself…

  • Has anything happened overnight to make me alter what I planned for the day?

Maybe you woke up with a migraine. Maybe half of your team has called in sick. Or your boss has pulled a surprise inspection. Just give yourself a moment to think through whether what you planned… is still going to work. If it is… Off you go. If not… re-write your plan for the day.

Now… That’s taken longer to explain than it actually takes to do! OK. All you need is to download the checklist, and take five minutes at the end of every day… And a few seconds at the beginning of the day… To ask yourself those questions… And you’ll REALLY be staying on top of your priorities and making time for the work that matters.

Grab the checklist by hitting the button below.