The Rule of 80/20 (#IWSG)


So I’ve been listening (and enjoying) the Self-Publishing Podcast for a while now. The guys there—indie publishing dynamos Johnny, Sean, and Dave, who also wrote my favorite book on the indie business side of writing, Write, Publish, Repeat—talk a lot about the Rule of 80/20.

For those fans of Franklin Covey out there (hello, my name is Cate, and I’m a Franklin Covey nerd), the Rule of 80/20 is comparable to the idea of Big Rocks and Little Rocks.

Basically, what it comes down to, is figuring out what is Important AND Urgent, as opposed to what is technically Important, but NON-Urgent.

Whether you want to be traditionally published or you’ve decided to brave the strange and Technicolor waters of self-publishing (or both) there is always Stuff you’re expected to do in addition to the actual writing.

Social media. Blogging. Websiting (yes, I totally just made that a word). Networking. Begging for reviews like Bob Cratchett for coal on Christmas Eve. Reading about what to do, how to do it, and what the latest, shinier-than-shiny trick to Amazon algorithms is, quick, before it becomes obsolete right about….NOW.

With all this noise, it’s all too easy to lose sight of what’s truly important, as well as urgent. Yes, all that stuff up there is Important—but is it really that Urgent?

All that stuff? Unless it’s garnering you stupendous results in sales right now, probably falls into “20” category. Because very little of all that will do you no good whatsoever unless you’ve got content.

The “80” category, certainly the most important and urgent, is the writing. Developing stories. Drafting them. Revising and polishing and all those things to making a publishable book is the foundation for all the other things.

This is also the difference between strategy and tactics, which is something else the SPP guys talk about a lot. They’re smart, successful guys. They know what they’re talking about.

A strategy is a Plan. Tactics is how you choose to execute your Plan, within the scope of your strategy. That is the true home 20-pegged activities. Some the 20s can turn out to be time sinks, little rabbit holes of anti-matter that may, or may not, be worth your time investment. It’s so much less stressful, as cliché as it is, to work smarter and not harder.

Your time is limited, and it is worth money, to be thought of as an investment. Therefore, you can better leverage your investment by focusing on the 80% activities—the activities that let you get the job done.


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