Colorado thought leaders forum

Class VI was proud to serve as the presenting sponsor of CTLF’s 2023 Spring Signature Event and the inspiring presentation by Dr. Tasha Eurich. Thank you for attending and reading our article in the digest booklet. 

Following we have provided information and instructions for the comprehensive 80/20 Exercise we mentioned, along with materials to make it easier for you to complete.  

You can jump right in and grab the automated workbook and instructions here: 

About the 80/20 Exercise

This exercise is based on the 80/20 Principle, originated by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who in 1936 observed that roughly 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.  

Another thinker, Richard Koch, later applied the 80/20 Principle to time management. He argues in his book that 80% of a CEO’s contribution to an organization derives from only 20% of time spent.  

This observation leads to an interesting conclusion. If we aim to both increase our effectiveness and improve our quality of life, we can do so by tipping the 80/20 balance. We can consciously reduce our low-value activities in favor of those packing the greatest punch. 

The Class VI Version

In our version of the 80/20 exercise, we have extended the concept to cover three facets of activities leaders engage in: 

  • The activity’s importance 
  • The leader’s enjoyment of it 
  • The leader’s competence at the task 

We add enjoyment and competence because we have found that for most leaders, the 20% of time spent on activities that deliver great value corresponds to the work they enjoy most. This makes sense—we typically like to pursue activities that tap our unique talents and help us make the greatest contribution. 

Therefore, considering activities according to all three criteria can not only point you toward greater productivity but also toward enhanced personal fulfillment and happiness. Not bad! 


This exercise does require some effort, but not too much. Here’s how to go about it. 

First, download the full 80/20 workbook if you haven’t already done so: DOWNLOAD HERE

The Excel spreadsheet is automated, so it will do much of the work for you. Simply work tab by tab, following the instructions that accompany each sheet. 

Following is a look at what’s involved. (Don’t worry, the instructions are repeated in the first tab of the workbook you just downloaded.) 

PArt a: activity rating

  1. Start with the Task Inputs tab and list the top ten activities you spend the most time on. 
  2. Move on to Exercise 1: Importance and rank your top ten activities based on their importance to the organization, as explained in the note at the bottom of the page. 
  3. Proceed to Exercise 2: Enjoyment and again rank your top ten activities, this time based on how much joy they bring you. 
  4. Next complete Exercise 3: Competence and complete a final ranking of activities based on how good you feel you are at each. 
  5. The Summary tab will automatically show you how your activities stack up each of three rankings and offers a “total” rating that should help you identify which activities occupy the nexus of importance, enjoyment, and competence.  

Spend some time reflecting on these results. What do they tell you about the activities you engage in? Then take the exercise into the real world with time tracking!

PArt b: time tracking

You may want to print out the Time Input page or ensure it is accessible on a tablet or other device you can carry with you all day.  

Use this sheet for 14 days (including weekends) to log the time you spend on each of the 10 activities you identified, as follows: 

  1. Make notes in each box as you go about your day. If you spent an hour doing administrative work on Monday morning, simply enter 1 or make a tick in the corresponding box. 
  2. At the end of the day or week, tally the time spent on each activity each day. 
  3. At the end of your two-week monitoring period, use the Time v. Priority report on the final tab to review your results. 

Once again, engage in some reflection. Are you spending most of your time on activities that are important and enjoyable and ones that play to your strengths? Or are you like most leaders, who commonly devote as much as 80% of their time to activities that they don’t like, don’t excel at, and don’t feel are adding much value to the organization? 

It’s okay if you’re not pleased with what you see. Most leaders share this experience! The important thing is to strategize changes: 

  • Look at the activities with the lowest total ranking—these are the ones that you don’t enjoy, don’t have great skill in, and don’t believe are driving much value. 
  • Ask yourself how you can eliminate or at least reduce the time you spend on these tasks. Can you delegate any of them or hire someone to handle some of them? Can you use technology to automate any of them? Can you simply stop doing certain tasks because they aren’t essential? 
    • Sadly, there will probably be some important activities you don’t enjoy but must continue to perform—but at least you can now do so knowing that you are adding value, which hopefully will lessen the pain! 
  • Now for the fun part! Think about how you want to spend the time you save.  
    • You can use your extra hours to focus on activities you ranked the highest for importance, enjoyment, and competence. We bet you’ll get a rapid boost in professional fulfillment and impact.  
    • But don’t forget, you can also give yourself some of that time back to live life! Family, friends, hobbies, creativity, exercise, time in nature, time for reflection, quiet time to “refill the well”—whatever your personal priorities, make sure to use this opportunity to fit them in, too.  

Without further ado, happy discovery!