More and more high-performers (especially women) are realizing that they can’t do it all. And that, surprisingly, trying to ‘do it all’ leads to poorer results. This realization comes, not-so-surprisingly, on the other side of overwhelm and burnout.

So, we’re hearing more and more about the “80-20 rule” — the idea that if we do less we’ll accomplish more. Derived from the Pareto Principle, the “80-20 rule” means that roughly 80% of our results come from 20% of our actions.

While that rule tends to generally hold up, how can we know what that twenty percent is? How can we discover the actions that give us the best and most immediate results? Most of us have to sift through a lot of what ISN’T important first, traveling down multiple dead-ends and spinning our wheels in the heart-sinking cul-de-sacs of the other eighty percent.

Truth is, the 20% often only presents itself after we’ve figured out what the other 80% is — the stuff we shouldn’t be doing, either because we’re no good at it or because it drains our energy in the short and/or long-term.

So how can we figure out how to get the biggest bang for our buck BEFORE we invest all that time and energy?

Here’s the model I use in my life and business to accomplish astonishing results with the least amount of effort:


Here’s how that model breaks down:

In this dimension we are ‘distracting’ ourselves with non-important, non-urgent stuff. We’re all somewhat addicted to this dimension, and billions of dollars are spent annually to keep us that way. Prime examples of this dimension include facebook, instagram, netflix, whatsapp, and most of what’s in our inboxes. 

Side note: Just like the other first three dimensions we’re looking at, the ‘dimension of distraction’ is not inherently ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’. Spending a bit of time here can be an amusing diversion. The key is to not get lost in it. Be aware that all of our technology is rigged to keep us coming back (it’s called ‘gamification’). Having that awareness and eliminating distractions while focusing on your priorities can help you limit the detrimental effects of this dimension and take back control of your time! 


The Dimension of Delusion is when we’re focused on tasks that seem important and that are not urgent. Email is a fantastic example of this. The best definition I’ve ever heard of email comes from Brendon Burchard, who calls it “a great organizing mechanism for other people’s priorities.” Starting our day by sorting through what’s important for everyone else is a surefire way to get lost in that 80% that doesn’t give us a sense of esteem or accomplishment.

Again, email is also designed to keep us checking. All those notifications–the red dots, pings, and numbers–can give us a false sense of importance. “You’ve got mail!” …Let it wait!  


Argh, Demand… this is where most high-performers spend the majority of their time: on urgent and important stuff… d-lines, product launches, get-to-market-NOW kinda stuff. Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this dimension. BUT spending the majority of our time here can be a recipe for burnout, comparison, disconnection, and distraction. There are times when this dimension is truly legitimate, like when a friend or family member is ill – that kind of demand is urgent and important and takes precedence over everything else. Most of the time, though, this dimension is also a distraction/delusion place in which we are convincing ourselves that all that ‘keeping busy’ is what determines our worth. 

It’s not. 


Ahh… here we are. The dimension that most folks put off until it’s too late.** When we’re in the dimension of design, we’re focused on the IMPORTANT, NOT URGENT stuff – like sitting down to write that book we’ve been talking about for years, going for a power walk, meditating, or playing and being fully present with our kids. So many high-performers give excuses for why they can’t find the time for this dimension. In my experience, most of us are afraid of being here, because we know it’s the place where we start to tap into our fullest potential

“Your greatest fear is not that you are inadequate. You’re greatest fear is that you are powerful beyond measure.” -Marianne Williamson

When you start to focus on what’s truly important to YOU before spending any time in distraction/delusion/demand, you are taking ownership of your life and your future. 

This model has allowed me to completely flip the way I manage my time and to free up so much more space for designing life the way I want it.

DIY (start small):

Decide to carve out 5-20 minutes first thing every morning for ONE ‘important, non-urgent’ priority — meditation, writing a note to a friend, taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood. The key is to START your day this way. Find out why here

Please leave a note in the comments and let me know the ONE reason you think we struggle to find time for what’s important. Thanks!


*Adapted from A. Robbins “Time of Your Life” program, as well as other 4-quadrant ‘important-urgent’ leadership models. What I refer to as “the dimension of demand” Robbins refers to as the “bullseye”. 

**See Bronnie Ware’s heart-opening book: “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”