Have you heard of the 80 20 Rule? Once you get it, you will be able to do less but achieve more.
I first took notice of the 80 20 Rule by reading Tim Ferriss’ book, The Four Hour Work Week. I believe the 80 20 Rule is one of the few underlying principles to effective time management.
The 80 20 Rule, often referred to as the 80 20 Principle or Pareto’s Principle, is the idea that 20 percent of inputs result in 80 percent of outputs. In other words, some inputs or efforts produce more significant results than others.
I started learning about this principle a few years ago. Today, I apply it to almost every area of my life including communication, sales, design, relationships, meetings and more.
Apply the 80 20 rule to your life
Following are a few practical ways you can start making the most of this principle.
We all make several decisions in a day but what happens when we make too many? Decision fatigue can cause us to make the wrong decision or indeed stop making decisions. Apply the 80 20 Rule to your decisions, so you can focus on your most significant decisions first.
If you’re in business, work out who the 20 percent of customers are that contribute to about 80 percent of your profits. Certainly there are ways to keep a portion of the other 80 percent, however, it’s not where you should be investing most of your time. Identify and take care of your most important customers first.
Steve Jobs is often credited as being a genius when it came to great design. Jobs was also quite the minimalist and he often removed features that were redundant on existing competitor’s products. You can bring great design to your work or business by simplifying. Start by exploring which 20 percent of a product or service’s features are most important to consumers -and therefore, which others they might be willing to compromise on, in return for other benefits.
In corporate Australia (and probably corporate everywhere) we have too many meetings. Each meeting costs the sum of all attendee wages for the duration of the meeting and the opportunity cost for those attending. Before your next meeting, determine which 20 percent of meetings account for 80 percent of results… and which you might be able to skip.
Decide then, which 20 percent of attendees are essential to achieve an effective outcome. The other 80 percent of attendees, who will contribute very little or nothing to outcomes, might offer better value somewhere else.
Email overload is a common problem. Apply the 80 20 Rule to your emails, so you check and respond to the most important 20 percent. Even though your least important emails are likely to slip through the cracks, the world will not end. Focus on your most important emails first.
For every piece of equipment you or your business owns, you need somewhere to keep it. Every piece of equipment requires cleaning, maintenance, maybe even updates. It costs money and its value depreciates over time. Determine which 20 percent of equipment you use most and invest in that first. For the other 80 percent, you might decide to invest in less expensive equipment, rent it or even outsource that work.
Okay, be honest. How many clothes do you own that you don’t wear any more? How many pairs of pants do you keep, in case you fit back into them one day? How many shirts or skirts do you keep because you might buy something that will match them again? How many jackets have you kept in the back of the cupboard for 2 years because you haven’t had the right occasion to wear them? I think you see my point. Throw. Them. Out.
You can use the 80 20 rule to determine which 20 percent of items you wear 80 percent of this time and keep those.
How do you live the 80 20 rule?
I could write dozens more examples of how I apply the Pareto Principle in my life… but I would prefer to hear from you in the comments. Which areas of your life do you think you can apply the 80 20 rule to?