How To Use The 80/20 Rule Effectively In Everyday Living

Photo by stargardener

Photo by stargardener

What Is The 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 Rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) can be defined as:

A rule of thumb that states that 80% of outcomes can be attributed to 20% of the causes for a given event. In business, the 80-20 rule is used to help managers identify problems and determine which operating factors are most important and should receive the most attention based on an efficient use of resources. Resources should be allocated to addressing the input factors have the most effect on a company’s final results. [Source: investopedia.com]

The rule states that 20% of inputs results in 80% of the outputs. Let’s state the principle in everyday scenarios in which you can relate.

  • 20% of your work activity produces 80% of your productive results that are valued by your employer.
  • 20% of your employees at work produce 80% of your company’s overall output, including financial gains.
  • 20% of your daily rituals produce 80% of your quality of life.
  • 20% of specific time you spend with your family results in 80% of your quality family relationships.

In his book The 80/20 Individual, author Richard Koch states it this way:

” … most of what exists in the universe – our actions, and all other forces, resources, and ideas – has little value and yields little result; on the other hand, a few things work fantastically well and have tremendous impact. There is no magic in the 80 and the 20, which are merely approximations. The point is that the world is not 50/50; effort and reward are not linearly related.” [Kindle version, p. 12]

Employing the 80/20 Rule For Maximum Effectiveness

So, if this Pareto Principle thing really is at work all around us, how can we effectively leverage the principle to improve our lives?

The short answer: Do more of the 20% activities that produce 80% of the desired results. Then, eliminate (or delegate) the 80% of activities that only produce a measly 20% of your desired results.

Let me try to put all these percentages into perspective with husband and wife relationships.

Think about your relationship with your spouse and all the things you do for them or with them on a regular basis. Out of all these activities with your spouse, which ones seem to make the biggest impact and get the best response? Cooking a great dinner five nights a week? Spending quality time on the sofa right after work? Saving money and not spending it on frivolous junk? Not letting the trash pile up around the house? Helping out with the kids at home? Going on a date night once a week?

If you know your spouse really well, then you will know what “rings their bell” in your marriage relationship. I guarantee based on the 80/20 Rule that only around 20% of your activity together brings about 80% of the happiness in your marriage. So, you need to figure out that specific 20% of activity and do more of it! And, the other 80% of stuff you do, do less of it. You’ll gain a better marriage and a happier spouse as a result.

Now, let’s talk work. Have you ever truly determined the 20% of your work activity that produces the 80% of the results that your employer is wanting out of you? You know, the results they are actually paying you for? The results that your boss determines whether to keep you around or not?

Whatever that 20% of work activity is, figure it out. Write it down. Schedule more time on it. Do more of those activities and increase your most valued results.

Learn It. Love It. Live It.

Once I finally comprehended the significance behind the 80/20 Rule, I have rigorously attempted to employ it in all that I do. I can’t go back to the old inefficient models of doing things. Wasting time on insignificant activities holds no interest for me.

I think too many times we have a tendency to believe that hard work will accomplish everything that we need it to. While hard work has its place in our lives, we can truly accomplish everything we need to in a more efficient, intelligent way by employing the 80/20 Rule. This is truly working smarter and not harder for your desired results.

How about you? Do you employ the 80/20 Rule in your life? In what areas do you utilize the rule? How are your results after employing the rule?

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