Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m lazy. I suppose that’s not something I should admit to on such a public forum, but being lazy is precisely how I managed to become an expert in my field.

It all started back in high school. I asked myself one simple question, “Why am I studying all this useless stuff?” I couldn’t see how Shakespeare was going to help me on my entrepreneurial journey. Biology wasn’t going to be much use for me if I decided to go on to be a pilot. Don’t even get me started on South East Asian history.

The point is that so often in life we are asked to do things that really have very little relevance to our better tomorrow. I decided that I would focus my energy only on the things that mattered most. Later on in life, I learned from my mentor, Jim Rohn, that some people “major in minor things.”

Mr. Pareto

In essence, he was talking about Pareto’s principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. I highly recommend picking up Richard Koch’s The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less to those who want to learn more about it. In a nutshell, this rule states that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. Conversely, that means 20% of our results come from 80% of our effort.

Even more shocking is when we go deeper with this principle, an incredible 4% of our efforts result in 64% of our results. Said another way, that means a measly 36% of our results come from 96% of our efforts. Therefore, to improve our chances of success whether in business or at school and reduce our stress at the same time, it’s imperative we learn what 4% of our efforts will reap the biggest rewards.

40 minutes a day

When I started out my career, I hadn’t heard of Pareto, but I knew I wanted to find ways to make my work easier. Freeing up time for myself would mean less stress and more time for me to enjoy life. I set out to learn everything I could about my job. I came in early, stayed late and practiced at home. Within a short period of time I had pretty much everything down, so my day consisted of about 20 minutes planning at the beginning of each day and another 20 minutes getting things ready.

40 minutes and I was ready. Most of my colleagues spent more than two hours doing the same work. I honestly couldn’t figure out what took them so long. That gave me about an extra hour and 20 minutes each day which I reinvested in myself learning a number of different skills (and the occasional nap).

I was just trying to make a good impression and save myself some time and trouble and I had stumbled onto one of greatest time management secrets there is. The better you become, the easier things get.

Two people, two very different results

That’s why two people who work at the same office, the same amount of hours, doing the same work can get vastly different salaries. One is accomplishing that much more. Too often in life people confuse doing with achieving. They couldn’t be more different.

Let’s use two imaginary employees – John and Chris to illustrate. John spends all day working and gets very little done in the way of results. Chris, on the other hand, spends 90 minutes and gets more done than John does all day. Who would you rather have working for you? A more important question – who do you want to be?

The greatest investment you can make

What we often don’t see is all the work Chris put in to become who he is. Maybe he took a speed-reading course back in college, allowing him to whip through material. He may have invested in some home study programs on Udemy or from speakers such as Brian Tracy learning management or Dan Kennedy studying marketing. Perhaps he spent a year in Italy taking intensive Italian. There are any number of things Chris could have done which allow him to achieve incredible results.

The secret teachers never tell you

The goal should never to be to work longer. Anyone can work long and hard. It takes skill to work less and achieve more. In fact, many successful people I know often have a lot of time on their hands. But trust me, most of them worked hard to build their company or to become president of a Fortune 500 company. It’s just we might not have seen it.

Personally, I have invested more than 10,000 hours on time management and personal development, written one book, co-authored another and will soon be co-authoring a third. I created my own time management program and became a joint venture consultant. All because I wanted to be “lazy.”