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70 percent rule for productivity

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

The 70 percent rule, in a business context, is a time management principle suggesting that people should withhold a significant amount of their working capacity for better productivity, engagement and work-life balance

According to the 70 percent rule, employees are most productive not when they are working as hard as they can from day to day but when they work, most of the time, at a less intense pace. In this way, when demands are increased temporarily, they have some capacity to respond, whereas the employee working full-out is incapable of producing any more. 

Such situations can lead to stress and eventually to burnout, which in turn can lead to poor performance, absenteeism and sometimes quitting or job loss. For the employer, that means less productivity, increased costs and higher job turnover.

Best practices for incorporating the 70 percent rule include taking vacations and mini-breaks, leaving some of the day unscheduled and learning to refuse unreasonable work demands. 

In this TED talk, Stefan Sagmeister discusses the power of time off:

This was last updated in January 2015

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