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How to Apply the 80/20 Rule in Life and Work

Lifestyle Nov 1, 2021

Doing less is not being lazy. Don't give in to a culture that values personal sacrifice over personal productivity.


Most people know the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, but it is not limited to just business. It can be applied in your personal life as well! You may have heard someone say that they spend 20% of their time on things that bring them 80% of their success.

This is true in business and it can be applied to all aspects of your life.

Here are some ways you can incorporate the 80/20 principle into your life: You spend 20% of your time with people that bring you 80% of happiness. Spend more quality time with those who make you happy! Your wardrobe consists of 20% stylish clothes that are worn 80% of the time. You wear what you love! Spend more money on things that get used often. Your phone is full of apps for 20% of your life needs and all other apps are hardly ever touched. Delete any apps you don't use regularly, especially if they have adware or spyware associated with them! You spend 20% of your time at work on the tasks that bring you 80% of success. Spend more time doing what is most important and makes a difference!

You can apply this to anything in life, including personal goals such as fitness and health! For example, if you want to lose weight, focus on changing your diet rather than spending time in the gym. You only need to work out 20% of the time and your diet will bring you 80% of your weight loss!

The 80/20 principle is not just a business strategy, it can be used for personal benefits as well! Try thinking about where you could apply this principle today. Remember that even if something seems like a small task or decision, it can add up quickly.



Keep this principle in mind and you'll find that the small things become much less important! You will get more out of your day when you focus on what is most important to bring success.

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The Pareto Principle was previously referenced in issue #19 of David's newsletter
19: Game theory all the things!
Some thoughts on game theory, competition, and the global circulation of kindness. A friend of mine recently shared an amazing game that gently introduces you to different game theory strategies, and allows you to self-discover what works and what doesn’t when trying to create optimal outcomes betwe…

Origins of the Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle or the law of the vital few states that in many cases, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The Pareto principle was discovered by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto after noticing that roughly 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population and noticing the same pattern in other situations. Born in 1848, Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was an important philosopher and economist. When Pareto realized that the 80/20 rule applied to all industries, he realized that the generalization was true. The Pareto principle or 80/20 rule is the universal truth about input-output imbalance. To use the 80/20 framework in your daily work, you don't need to create mathematical formulas, do complex math, or understand statistics. Remember that the 80% and 20% are just indicators. It's a myth that the numbers should always be 80/20. They don't have to, these are just benchmarks. The key is to find the small things that yield big results. The 80/20 rule helps us understand typical distributions regardless of the numbers. The issue isn't the ratio, but the imbalance. We'll get into the framework a little more, but I'd say the answer is in everything.

“20% of management theories are responsible for 80% of results. That’s assuming the Pareto Principle makes the cut.”Ryan Lilly
“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.”Dale Carnegie

How Can I Apply This Principle?

To apply this principle in your life, you should ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are the 20% Of activities that produce 80% Of results?
  • Which of my actions have a larger impact on achieving success?
  • Am I investing in less important areas and neglecting the key skills, knowledge, or abilities to get me where I want to be in life and work? -
  • Am I spending too much time on things that produce results below my expectations?
  • Which activities should I focus more of my efforts, energy, and resources on to get me closer to achieving the goals or outcomes I want in life? -
  • What activity brings me the most results?
  • Which activities bring me the least amount of results?
  • Am I spending too much time on low return tasks and not enough time on high return ones?

Here are some ideas to apply the 80/20 principle in your life

1) Spend more time with the most important tasks and less time with unimportant ones

You should never let your day be cluttered with time wasters. Instead, focus on the things that matter and get them done as soon as possible.

You can also focus your energy on one task at a time and ignore the urge to multitask because it takes up too much of your brainpower. If you like, try writing down all the things you need to get done in order of importance and start with those.

2) Prioritize your work by importance

One way to prioritize is by using a planner. In order, write down the most important tasks for each day of the week and then do them one at a time in order until they are all done. The more you practice this method, the better you will become at prioritizing effectively!

This also makes it easier when trying to figure out which tasks to work on first. If you find something to be too hard, it might not necessarily mean that the task is important. Maybe there's a way for you to simplify or break it down into smaller chunks so that it becomes more manageable and easier!

3) Focus on two or three key areas for improvement at a time

You should try to focus on the things that you need to do, instead of getting distracted by other tasks. I know it's hard sometimes, but you'll be able to get more done if you can concentrate better.

Don't try to improve everything at once, instead focus on your two or three key areas for improvement. You can make sure you are getting the most important things done first and still have time left over to fit in some fun!

You should always focus on your two or three key areas for improvement at a time instead of trying to improve everything all at once. This way it is more manageable and easier!

If you focus on your key areas for improvement, it will also become easier to prioritize what needs to be done first. Make sure you are getting the most important things done first so there is more time to fit in some fun!

4) Find out which tasks are taking up most of your day and do those first thing in the morning (or last thing at night!)

Your day is going to be a lot better if you schedule your biggest priorities first thing in the morning. You'll be able to work on them uninterrupted, and before noon you'll feel great about everything that's been accomplished so far and you can cross off your most important tasks for the day!

Another thing you can do is schedule your most important tasks last, just before going to bed. This way, when you wake up in the morning all that's left are easy and simple things for you to accomplish!

You will feel a lot better if you start off with your biggest priorities first in the morning or towards the end of your day.

This way it is more manageable and easier to accomplish what needs to be done.

5) Focus on the “vital few” rather than the “trivial many”

Easier said than done, isn't it?

A great quote by this point is, "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." This means that in your challenges there is always a chance to learn and grow.

Always focus on the “vital few” instead of the “trivial many.” It will help you get rid of useless tasks and focus on what matters. If you can focus on your priorities, the results will come faster.

This quote also reminds us that there is always a chance for growth in our challenges which makes it easier when trying to prioritize what needs to be done first.

Avoiding distractions can help you get your most important tasks finished more quickly. Schedule time to check emails and social media set clear goals for each day, and prioritize one thing at a time so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.

If you stop to take a break, make sure it’s not too long since distractions can quickly add up and eat into your day. You should also remember that prioritizing is important for getting results! If you focus on the “vital few” instead of the “trivial many,” then you can get rid of useless tasks and focus on what matters. It will help you finish your most important tasks faster! If you can prioritize, the results will come in no time at all.


Conclusion

The 80/20 principle is an important one to take note of, especially when you want to improve your life. It's a great way for you to identify what's important to you and where you should spend your time. It's also a great way to identify if you're spending too much time on something that isn't worth it.

Make sure to take note that this principle is not always true. It often applies to activities that produce a disproportionate result. There might be times when you spend a lot of time on something and end up getting the same results as someone who only took 20% of their time while also doing other things. This is why you need to test this principle in your own life, so you can learn where it works and where it doesn't.


Further Reading

The Pareto Principle was referenced in Issue #19 of David's newsletter

19: Game theory all the things!
Some thoughts on game theory, competition, and the global circulation of kindness. A friend of mine recently shared an amazing game that gently introduces you to different game theory strategies, and allows you to self-discover what works and what doesn’t when trying to create optimal outcomes betwe…

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