Applying the 80/20 Principle through Delegation

I’ve never published a guest post before on this blog – I’m not entirely against them, but I generally believe those who follow my blog do so because they want to read what I write, not what someone else writes.

With that said, I’ll always make an exception if one of my favorite bloggers wants to write a guest post for me (especially if they’ve let me write a guest post for them before).  This is a guest post by Maren Kate – if you’re not familiar with her, you need to become familiar with her, because she’s nothing short of an inspiring entrepreneur who currently has big plans within the virtual assistant industry.

Take it away, Maren…

Two concepts have dramatically changed my life in the last 5 years, the first was the 80/20 principle which I first heard mentioned on an internet business podcast and later studied in it’s original form (Pareto’s Principle). The second concept took a while for me to fully understand but once I wrapped my mind around it – it rocked my world. This was the idea of virtual assistants, the concept that I could hire someone for a good rate to take over all the tasks that come up that I either didn’t like or wasn’t good at.

After a year or so of experimenting with virtual assistants – it took me some time to find quality hires – I realized that the concepts behind Pareto’s Law (the 80/20 principle) applied perfectly to the world of delegating to virtual assistants. Let me explain…

The 80/20 Principle

The gist is to break anything into a pie chart mentally. The whole pie equals 100% and slices of the pie take away from that 100%. You then apply that pie to your day, Pareto’s law says that 20% of your day contributes to 80% of the results, where as the other 80% of your day (the vast majority) only contributes to 20% of results.

I’ve always loved this principle but I never understood what I could do with that 80% of my day that – though boring and not really that productive – still needed to be done (think errands, bills, research, etc). Thankfully that’s around the time I started really experimenting with virtual assistants and they have been the key that has unlocked massive productivity.

The Beauty of Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants are the key to delegating that 80% of your day that you either hate doing, don’t want to do or plain aren’t good at. Which frees up your time and energy to only focus on the 20% that will throw off the most results.

I have used my virtual assistants for anything from organizing my calendar to doing customer support for clients to marketplace research and basic SEO. I usually go through my inbox each morning and forward on about 70% of it to my VA with short instructions as to how to proceed. Some things she files, some things she follows up on, often she balances not only my budget but makes sure I make all my appointments.

Right now my virtual assistant is working on getting me a free round trip flight on Southwest since on my latest flight my bag not only was lost but came back shredded. That is going to take her hours to accomplish and each hour it takes is an hour I save, which I can put towards building my business and being more productive.

Getting Started

Often getting your feet wet in the delegation river seems scary and imposing. Nobody likes to give up control, but what we don’t realize is it’s this exact urge that keeps most people slaving away – wasting most of their time for minimal results. So take it slow, don’t wage an all out war on your psyche. Instead you can slowly introduce your mind to the concept of delegating tasks that you don’t want to do or aren’t good at.

So take one day and write down everything you do, then make notes on what can only be done by you and what could be done by someone else. Be honest, most of the things on your to-do list don’t have to be executed solely by you. When you hire a virtual assistant you can start with just a few hours a week – then start assigning them a few things from your list a day that you don’t want to do. You can scale up from there and within a few weeks you’ll be eagerly delegating as much as you can off your plate and onto your virtual assistants.

The concepts behind Pareto’s Principle and the ideas of delegation will completely change your life if you let them and when paired together they have the ability to help you achieve even your largest goals.

Maren Kate is the blogger behind Escapingthe9to5 and currently runs a business that helps entrepreneurs hire virtual assistants.

Thanks Maren!

Leave a comment and share how YOU think virtual assistants could free up that 80% of your day.

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15 Responses to “Applying the 80/20 Principle through Delegation”

  1. I’ve been slowly building up to this point where I believe a virtual assistant will take my ventures to the next level.

    I can’t say for sure when I could put something like this into implementation since I do have a lengthy vacation coming up but once I’m back I plan to entertain the idea because I’m hitting a point where I do have regular tasks which I don’t want to do but they need to be done.

    In fact, just the other day I got off a 2 hour client call with someone about content marketing.

    They asked me, directly, if I saw myself as a strategies for the plan or the one that would be doing the work.

    It caught me a little off guard but it was completely viable. My best work, for this client, would be applied through the strategy and not entirely in the process of creating content.

    A virtual assistant, in this situation, would mean that I could work intently with the client in which, afterward, we could delegate tasks to the virtual assistant when it came to content creation.

    That’s powerful stuff right there :)
    Murray Lunn recently posted… Business Beyond Blogging- My Five Point Online Business Strategy


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Murray. I feel like with your current plans, a VA would be a great deal of help.

    I definitely think that would make for a great blog post too, if you do pursue it. Something about how a VA helped you transition from “9 to 5 worker” to “full-time internet entrepreneur.” I know I’d love to read about that. Not sure if that fits in your content strategy though… 😛


    marenkate Reply:

    I totally agree – I’ve done that same kind of client work in the past (where i work intently then delegate the tasks off to VA’s) and it has done great.


  2. Funny,

    I just left Escaping the 9 to 5 and came right here in my morning blog round up.

    The virtual assistant route is definitely in the works for me but I won’t forge ahead for the sake of the process. I suppose I don’t quite need it yet, so I tell myself.

    Call it stubbornness, especially since outsourcing is such a big part of my business. I’m sure I’ll come around soon enough.
    Brendon Zahrndt | Internet State University recently posted… Niche Site Details Revealed-Case Study Part One- Niche &amp Keyword Selection


    marenkate Reply:

    It’s not a bad idea to wait as you build processes up – so when you do make the jump everything goes smoothly :) What kind of business do you run?


    Brendon Zahrndt | Internet State University Reply:

    I outsource the mundane in my affiliate marketing business. I am in the process of diversifying this business so I am paying close attention to ‘assistants’ right now.

    I own an apparel business ‘offline’ as well as online and I outsource quite a bit there.

    I decided to start TWO businesses that will change my life;)
    Brendon Zahrndt | Internet State University recently posted… Niche Site Details Revealed-Case Study Part One- Niche &amp Keyword Selection


  3. I have tried hiring a virtual assistant as a result of my mild incompetencies. It really works! I get a lot of things done in a week’s time at a very good expense. I think it should really be something you have to come into terms with yourself. If you think you do not want to give up a small amount for others help then go on. But I guarantee you there are a lot of good virtual assistants out there and they can even be your online peers.
    June Young recently posted… Why You Should Have a Credit Card with Return Protection


    Eric G. Reply:

    Great points, June! Thanks for the comment.


  4. Eric,

    The 80/20 Rule is the best work hack that I have learned. I also got introduced to the rule via Tim Ferris’ 4HWW book.

    I haven’t been in a situation where I need my own VA (9-5 warrior here!)…until now.

    I am starting to grow my blog. Maintaining it with its growth is becoming an overhead (on top of my 9-5 job). I am actually looking into the possibility of having a VA myself. This post really helps!

    Thanks :-)
    marlon @ productivity bits recently posted… How a Virtual Assistant Can Help Boost Productivity


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Marlon. You should definitely try out working with a VA to see how it helps your situation. Remember, you can start slow, and build your VA usage as needed. I would consider starting with a 1 or 2 hour project just to “test the waters” and then eventually increase the amount of work that you’re able to leverage toward a VA.


  5. You cannot expect all the work to be done by yourself, from articles to SEO to commenting. And in such cases, having a virtual assistant really pays off!
    Adam Gardner recently posted… Kitchen Furniture for the Outdoors


    Eric G. Reply:

    Absolutely, Adam. Thanks for the comment!


    Adam Gardner Reply:

    Thanks for providing your opinion.Not only does having a virtual assistant ease your work pressure, but it also gives you more time-to think and relax also.
    Adam Gardner recently posted… Choosing Furniture from Hawaii


    Eric G. Reply:

    Exactly! It’s hard to put a price on that…

  6. A guest post from time to time can only improve the experience, you should get more of these. If you trust the writer, that is.

    I like how Maren applied Pareto’s Law in engaging virtual assistants to fill up that 80% that gives each of us trouble.
    Amit recently posted… How to Become a Certified Forklift Trainer


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