What is the Mark Twain Rule?
The Mark Twain Rule is a way of boosting confidence and daily productivity by applying the 80-20 rule to the way you spend your time.
The 80-20 rule, or Pareto Principle, states that 80% of the world’s resources, achievements, or wealth are held by 20% of the people.Mark Twain adapted this in a way to suggest that 80% of our time should be spent on the important stuff, while the remaining 20% can be spent on the trivial.By identifying and focusing on the important tasks, we have a greater chance of achieving our goals and feeling more productive and satisfied at the end of the day.
Organizational and time-management experts point out the danger of procrastination and distraction from our goals. Many of us find that we are distracted by non-essential tasks like checking emails, browsing the internet, making phone calls or chatting with colleagues, as these tasks often require minimal effort or thought. Following the Mark Twain Rule suggests striving for the 80-20 balance of important over trivial tasks.
It can be helpful to apply this rule weekly, or even daily.Designating one day as a ‘Work Hard’ day and one as a ‘Play Hard’ day can be a great way to estimate our progression. On the ‘Work Hard’ day, focus on important tasks, set specific goals and evaluate your progress. The ‘Play Hard’ day can then be used to relax, and spend time indulging yourself in activities of your choice.These activities can even be used to increase productivity, as happiness boosts energy levels, creativity and resilience.
The key to making the Mark Twain Rule a success is to start small and be consistent. Start by setting achievable goals and rewarding yourself for completing them. Achieving small goals proves that you can change, and this helps with motivation.Sticking to a plan and monitoring your progress regularly will ensure that you keep on track and remain focused on the job.
Setting Goals and Sticking to A Schedule
Setting goals for yourself allows for better focus, as it allows you to prioritize what needs to be done and what needs extra attention. Giving yourself daily and weekly goals can also provide a sense of accomplishment, as it gives you a visible idea as to what needs to be achieved.At the end of each day, schedule some time to monitor your progress by evaluating yourself and seeing if you took the necessary steps.From this it is possible to modify your plan and look for areas that may require more work the next day.
Breaking tasks down into small, manageable chunks can help by increasing motivation and reducing procrastination.By breaking down a task into numerous parts, it can be much easier to focus on the individual components and make steady progress. Breaking the task into smaller chunks can also help keep the workload manageable.
Small successes will build over time and provide a basis for further progress. It’s important to remember to take it step by step. Small incremental changes will add up and produce noticeable results if you stay consistent.
Prioritize and Automate
It is also important to focus on the most important tasks. Busy days full of emails and meetings can consume a large amount of your time, leaving little energy to focus on the bigger tasks.By taking a look at your day and figuring out what needs to be done first and what can wait till later, you can create a to-do list. A to-do list eliminates the feeling of being overwhelmed by a mountain of tasks, and by systematically ticking them off, you can track your successes.
If a task can be done quickly, consider automating it, or delegating it to a colleague or family member. Automation allows us to focus less on the mundane tasks—like scheduling appointments or bank transfers—and more on the essential aspects such as researching and developing new ideas.
When beginning to apply the Mark Twain Rule, it is important to identify the tasks that lead closest to your goal.These tasks should be placed at the top of the list and given priority. By following this approach, every ticking off of a task brings you one step closer to your objective.
Build Strong Habits
Building strong habits is another important factor to applying the Mark Twain Rule. Habits remove the burden of decision making, allowing us to start moving towards our goal without much thought. Good habits help improve productivity, as consistent daily effort serves to break the inertia of uncertainty and lack of focus.
However, it’s important to be aware of bad habits and how they can lead to procrastination and unnecessary indulgence. Creating reminders or alarms for yourself can be an effective way to come back to focus after being distracted.
Building strong habits can also provide motivation. Achieving small successes and being rewarded with a break or a good meal keeps you in the habit of focusing on your goals and keeps you going for the long run.
Take Regular Breaks
Engaging yourself in the task at hand is important, yet it is equally important to take a break. Working incessantly will only lead to exhaustion. Taking regular breaks serves to restore energy and refocus the mind and body. While an intense morning of work may seem productive, restoring energy levels with a short break will enable you to work better and longer.
Planning a break, whether it’s a short walk, looking out the window, or reading a book, can be a great way to reset and focus again. Breaks also provide the opportunity to reflect on your progress and ask if you are progressing towards your goal or if the task can be approached differently.Socializing with likeminded people or engaging in exercise can also be a great way to boost productivity and focus.
Sharing your goals with others can also provide a great motivation for achieving them. Building a support system around our goals can be a great way to ensure that we complete those goals. The passion and enthusiasm of your friends and family can be incredibly helpful in achieving our objectives, as well their support and advice.
Online communities can also be great for meeting people who share your goals and aspirations.This will allow you to have conversations and exchange ideas with others on the same journey, which can inspire and motivate you to keep going despite the pressures of time and uncertainty.
Analyze Your Failures
Failures are certain to arise when attempting to make changes to your daily schedule and routines.It is important to analyse any failures and identify where the errors occurred. This will help you rework the task and build on your progress.
It is important to learn from mistakes and use them as a means to achieve your objectives.Analyzing your failures will allow you to justify mistakes and look for alternative approaches.It also serves to teach the importance of being persistent, as failures are unavoidable in any process.
It can be incredibly helpful to seek guidance from experts. Seeking professional assistance can provide advice and direction as to how best to achieve your goals.By taking advice from people who have trodden the same path, we can use their experience to form a plan and determine the best methods of achieving our own success.
Working with a mentor or a coach is also a great way to learn the skills necessary for staying motivated and focused. A mentor or coach can provide guidance and support, providing an objective viewpoint and constructive feedback.
For those who are unable to find someone to mentor or coach them, books can offer an alternative source of guidance.Reading books written by experts on the subject or attending seminars or courses can also provide great insight into the methods and strategies of successful people.