By Hannah Hennis

Oftentimes the hardest thing to achieve in business—and real estate specifically—is the correct focus. So many responsibilities vie for time and attention. There is a guide however, that many top producers use, called the 80/20 rule.

It was originally discovered by an Italian economist named Pareto, who wrote that at that time 80 percent of the wealth in his country was controlled by 20 percent of the population. Although he meant it to pertain only to economics, it was later expanded as applicable to most things in life and business. Most businesspeople will tell you that 80 percent of their office work is done by 20 percent of the staff. 80 percent of effects result from 20 percent of actions, and so forth. It also works the other way however. 20 percent of mistakes are responsible for 80 percent of all difficulties, 20 percent of workers will account for 80 percent of problems, and 20 percent of the work will consume 80 percent of the time etc…

What this really means is that overall, 20 percent of things are vitally important, while the other 80 percent are not. When used correctly, this one principle can greatly increase productivity and effective management skills.

For real estate agents, time and project management is everything. With so many properties at different stages of sale, and many more to be prospected, it can be very difficult to prioritize. Applying Pareto’s principle, an estimated 80 percent of sales are closed by only 20 percent of agents. So what sets those 20 percent apart from the rest of real estate professionals? There are four main aspects that always categorize their success in the field.

They have a plan.

About 80 percent of an agent’s current efforts are not really vital or productive for their business. Procrastination and unnecessary interruptions can sap the energy and time of even the most determined. It is essential to identify those things that are most important and will give the greatest return. Those who plan their day and set priorities on needed tasks are the ones who will get the most done.

They have a good task management system.

Recognizing and setting priorities is vital, but to be utilized effectively it must be paired with a good organizational system. Post-it notes can only go so far in task management, and wise agents use technology and tools to capitalize on the most important 20 percent of their duties.

They advertise wisely.

80 percent of closed deals result from 20 percent of advertisement. There are many ways to advertise services, but some are more productive and cost effective than others. Mailers and postcards are a classic means of advertisement, but capturing leads through internet marketing may be more effective and less time consuming.

They work smarter, not longer.

Eliminating or focusing less on the secondary 80 percent of daily tasks leaves more time to work on what’s really important in the business. More hours on the clock are not necessarily an indicator of wise time management. Spend 80 percent of your time on the 20 percent of things that really require your attention and other things will fall into place where they need to be.