How applying the 70×10 rule to project management can help you deal with triple constraint

by Christopher Cook

“It’s not the amount that counts, it’s the plan that counts” – Jim Rohn.

Recently, an email caught my eye from one of my many subscriptions. The title read something like the 70×10 rule of money. Any time rule precedes the subject, I am immediately intrigued because it should be evergreen.

No matter how much money you have, the status of your career, or whatever the like, the rule should apply to you.

In the video, Jim Rohn discusses his rule for money. He begins writing on a whiteboard 70-10-10-10 with blank spaces to the right. He explains that these are ideal percentages for your money to be distributed.

Dealing With Triple Constraint: The 70×10 rule in Project Management


It goes as follows:

70% of your income goes to essentials like paying the bills, living expenses, and overall lifestyle. It makes sense the majority of your income is used for life. Rent or mortgage payments are probably a majority of that percentage.

10% of your income goes to charity. This charitable donation is anything from church to nonprofits to giving family members some extra cash. Any time you give when you are not forced to give that can be considered charity.

10% of your income goes to active capital like a business or ventures where you rely actively on this capital. At some point, you may start a hobby that accrues interest and potential buyers. I see plenty of these individuals at a weekly farmer’s market. They are spending their income on active capital, trying to earn a few extra bucks on the weekend.

10% of your income goes to passive capital, such as investments where your money can sit and accrue interest. This route is a more standard route for investing extra money. You find a financial advisor who recommends some funds to place your money in and let it sit for 3-5 years earning money.

Rohn goes on to explain that this ideal mixture of capital may not be your current positioning. You may currently spend 100% of your income on bills and lifestyle, leaving zero percent for the rest of the categories. His personal position allows him to spend about 30% of his income on lifestyle, allowing for a greater percentage elsewhere.

I started to think about how this principle correlates to project management and a project manager’s allocation of time. How do project managers spend their time? I am going to break down this ideal money distribution in terms of time for a project manager.

70% of your time goes to the triple constraint – scope, schedule, budget. This triple constraint is the holy trinity of project management. The majority of your time should be spent here. Again, it may be all of your time. As you earn promotions, this percentage may decrease and become more broadly focused.

20% of your time goes to investing in yourself – webinars, books, seminars, PMI chapter meetings. Project managers need to stay on top of the latest and greatest. Investing in yourself is an evergreen investment that is always worth the price. You getting better has a trickle-down effect as well as a ripple effect. What you are learning about gets passed down to others, and maybe they take the next step in their education to become better.

10% giving back – mentorship, STEM groups. This form of charity has a never-ending giving aspect to it. If you are in a position to give back, jump at the opportunity. Even a small gesture like helping set up equipment for your local PMI chapter means a lot. STEM groups are a great opportunity to work with younger people and help them understand the importance of science and technology.


As Jim Rohn is quoted as saying, the plan is what counts. At this point, you may not have an extra dollar or minute to allocate anywhere. That is fine. Have a plan in place so when the opportunity arises, you know what to do.

The amount is not important. Some have millions of dollars to invest and accrue enough interest to live off of that. Others do not have a savings account. The idea remains the same. If you emphasize the investment, be it time or money, you will make it happen.

The percentages may differ as well. The more income you make, like Rohn, the more shifts in percent you will have. As a senior manager, your focus will not be on the individual projects and their triple constraints. You will have time to broaden your vision and apply your time differently.

What percentage of time do you have in each of these categories? What do you feel is the ideal ratio?


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