The 80/20 principle is also known as the ‘Pareto Law’ and is one of my favorite tools. You can apply it in all areas of your life and I guarantee you will get amazing results.
You may already know about it, but are you really applying it to the max?
What Is the Pareto Law 80 20 Principle?
The 80/20 rule, also known as the “Pareto Law,” states that 80% of the results are determined by 20% of your actions. It has a lot of variations, like 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your profit and so on.
Of course, the percentages are relative, but the principle holds true in the vast majority of cases. The main idea is that a small part of what you do is responsible for the largest part of the outcome.
If you think about this from a time management perspective, the implications are huge. Not only that you can achieve what you currently do in far less time, but you can achieve significantly more in less time.
Most people are familiar with this principle and apply it to some degree. However, the real secret is to apply it in a big way, consistently. Then you will enjoy massive benefits.
How Society Leads You in the Wrong Direction
Nowadays the pace of life is really crazy. So many commitments, so many items on your to-do list, just to get-by. And if you are trying to achieve something above average, then you really need to hustle. You need to work harder, to dedicate more time, to push and rush and do more.
Well, this doesn’t sound right… But there are good news! You can break free from this endless chain on fighting your way through life. It’s possible to get outstanding results via taking action in a smarter way.
How Your Current Behavior Is Preventing You to From Making the Most of Pareto Law
I will share with you my story. While I’m big on prioritization, I’ve always had strong perfectionistic tendencies. This means that I used to spent a lot of time double-checking and fine-tuning everything I was doing. This approach has a huge compound effect and is exactly the opposite of the 80/20 principle.
All things are not created equal! While it is perfectly OK to spend a lot of time on critical projects, you should treat the menial tasks for example differently.
Are you sabotaging yourself, as well?
How to Put the 80/20 Pareto Law into Action
The theory is all good but you will only reap the rewards if you put this law into practice.
There are 2 separate elements that we need to take into account, when thinking about the Pareto Law:
- One is choosing to dedicate time to taking the right actions. In other words, you need to give priority to the projects that bring you the highest returns.
- Secondly, you need to pay attention to how you spend your time and energy while taking those (well chosen) actions.
Here are 7 tips to help with putting the 80/20 rule into action:
- Determine “your 20%” that you are trying to achieve. Yes there is a little homework that you need to do. You first need to identify what is important in your life. What are the big goals that you are trying to achieve?
- Assess how you are currently spending your time and energy. Funny enough, you may discover that in reality, your time and energy goes largely into dealing with a lot of small actions that demand your urgent attention.
- For each of the important goals that you identified, try to determine what are the 20% of actions that drive the highest returns. In some cases this is not obvious and you can only find the answer via looking into historic results or via trial and error.
- Try to maximize the time you spend on “your 20%” everyday. This is more challenging as it may sound, as there are always distractions and urgent demands on your time. You need to make a conscious effort to succeed at this. And you need to be consistent.
- Evaluate your progress regularly and reignite your motivation to progressively skew more and more of your time and energy towards the most rewarding activities.
Pareto Law 80 20 Examples
Let’s take a look at a couple of pareto law examples to illustrate the point.
Suppose you intend to get six-pack abs. This is quite challenging and say you develop a plan that includes diet, gym, running, attending fitness lectures, regularly meeting like-minded folks to keep the energy level up and so on.
You need to dedicate a lot of time and energy to cover all these items on your to-do list on a regular basis. Not to mention the fact that you will have a lot of other entries in your agenda.
In this case, I happen to know that more than 80% of your results come from keeping the right diet. Yes, it’s not about hours and hours of cardio exercises and about hundreds of crunches. The key element to focus on is the diet.
If you place the same level of importance on all the elements in your plan, you are less likely to succeed than if you focus to be flawless with your diet.
Let’s also take an example from business, although it applies in any field. Say that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.
A common approach is to dedicate the same time and resources to serve each client.
A much smarter approach is to develop a strategy and plans to better serve the 20% of your clients who are responsible for most of your business.
You can invest more in delivering a top-notch quality service that drives up loyalty. Or maybe serve them via addressing a top concern they have and drive thus the total customer revenue for your business up. The possibilities are endless. You may spend the same resources, but get much, much more in return.
Don’t aim to apply this new approach perfectly, from the get-go. To fully capitalize on the 80/20 principle you need to change habits and this takes time.
However, via taking consistent action regularly, you will definitely start to see results. Just keep at it, as the rewards are truly massive!
Images: Sleepy Valley