How to Make the 80/20 Rule (Pareto’s Principle) Work for You

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by Dana on August 1, 2012

This week, I want to talk to you about the 80/20 rule—or Pareto’s Principle—and how you can make it work for you. Pareto’s Principle is one of the most powerful time management concepts you’ll ever learn.

In case you’re not already familiar with it, the Pareto Principle was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy went to 20% of the Italian population. He took this concept even further and discovered that it applied in nearly all situations.

So what that means for you is that 20% of your activities produce 80% of your results. For example:

  • You probably wear 20% of your clothes, 80% of the time…
  • Or you use 20% of your recipes, 80% of the time…
  • Or if you’re a business owner, 20% of your products account for 80% of your revenue…
  • And 20% of your customers account for 80% of your sales…

You get the picture.

So what can you do with that information? How can you make the 80/20 rule work for you?

Think about all of the tasks you have on your to-do list. If you have 10 items listed for the day, accomplishing just two of them will provide far more value than completing the other eight combined. Your ability to determine what those few activities are and focus on them first and foremost will be key in determining your how productive you are and your overall level of success.

So first, you have to figure out what those vital few tasks are that will be most powerful in moving you toward your goals. Then you must discipline yourself to work on those items first. From this point forward, you can not allow yourself to work on any tasks in that bottom 80% while you still have tasks in the top 20% left to be done.

Applying this principle alone is going to make a huge difference in your producvity, as well as the results you see life and career.


Alicia Kamm September 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm

What an interesting post!! I have never thought about applying the 80/20 rule to my life. I just thought that the 20% were the “lucky ones” making all of the income! I happened to have my to-do list close by when I was watching so I did the exercise and noticed that yes – two of the items were going to help me move forward the most – today. Thanks for this! I love how you related it to clothes and recipes too! So true, insightful and easy to remember.

Dana September 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

So glad you found this tip to be valuable, Alicia! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!!