What the Pareto Principle Is and How It Can Change Your Life

year ago

We face the challenge of limited resources every single day. Despite the fact that we tend to place the blame on time, or more specifically, a lack of it, the truth is that most of us just don’t know how to use it wisely. There’s no way to add more hours to the day, but there is a way to get the most out of the time we do have by focusing on the things that matter most. This is where the Pareto Principle can be of great help.

Bright Side gathered the main points of this principle to help you reach your goals as quickly as possible.

What is it?

Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who noticed that 20% of Italian families own 80% of all the money in the country. Fascinated by this realization, he began to apply this 20/80 rule to everything around him. Turned out 20% of the pods gave 80% of the entire crop in his garden. The further, the better. It looked like this pattern could be applied to any circumstance and to any case.

You may be asking, “But what do crops have to do with our time and our ability to succeed?” Well, keep reading!

20% of effort brings 80% of the result

It’s important to understand that the modern world offers too many opportunities for every single idea to be brought to life. This can be confusing at first, but if we follow the Pareto Principle, we know that 20% of our work brings 80% of the result.

This means that out of the 10 things you planned to do today, 8 of them are not that important. All you need to do is to determine what these 2 most important things are and start with them. If you do not focus on the 20%, you will end up wasting 80% of your time.

How do I know what is important?

This is where you’ll need to be strong-willed. The 2 most important things are usually the hardest and the most complex. This is just how the human brain is wired — we like to procrastinate and do little non-important things instead of investing our effort and energy into the activities that really matter to us.

I’ve found them. What’s next?

A good place to start is to write down your top 6 priorities for tomorrow. Then, cross out the bottom 5. Write down your remaining top priority on a sticky note and put it where you’ll constantly see it.

Try to work on this task for an hour and a half every morning. Don’t let anything distract you. Try not to think about any other tasks that you may have. If something just doesn’t leave your mind, write it down and come back to it later.

Good news for students

Think about your teachers or professors — they’re also familiar with the Pareto Principle. Since they don’t have time to ask questions about the entire material from their course, they just test your knowledge on only the most important things. Without a doubt, they are going to do their best by testing the most important ideas of the course, which tend to make up about 20% of the material you’ve learned the night before.

“A freelance job was supposed to give me more time,
but I’m working 24/7.”

If you work freelance, you not getting any medical coverage, paid sick days, paid leave, retirement savings, and many other common employee perks and benefits. That’s why you can feel vulnerable and, as a result, take on more and more projects so you don’t risk putting all of your eggs in one basket.

But it’s more than likely that 80% of your projects bring in only 20% of the profit. So if you focus on your main money-making clients, try to strengthen long-term relationships with them instead of working on a bunch of different projects, you’ll get 80% of the profit by putting in only 20% of the effort.

Running a business

Steve Jobs knew about the Pareto Principle too. In fact, it even saved his company from bankruptcy. Seems like this advice is as old as time, but it really is true that less is more. It means if you have trouble running your business, it is time to stop chasing after the hundreds of innovations that appear every single day and focus on a few things that your company can do best.

It’s time to clean up!

If you’re a manager, it’s highly recommended that you find out which employees produce 80% of the results and focus your limited time on managing them.

You probably have your wardrobe filled with things you’re never going to wear. Make a list of what you wear at least once a month and get rid of the rest. You’re not going to miss what you never even wear.

If you miss your best friend and end up surrounding yourself with many other different people, you’ll most likely notice that the 80% bring in only 20% of the joy you usually feel when you’re with your close friend.

So, what 20% of your work results in 80% of your outcome? What would you be ready to let go of right now? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Please note: This article was updated in June 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.


Lucky you! This thread is empty,
which means you've got dibs on the first comment.
Go for it!

Related Reads