The 80/20 Rule or  How To Achieve More With Less

The 80/20 Rule or How To Achieve More With Less

by Rasul Adilzhanov

Everything in our life obeys this rule. The majority of people don’t know about it, a minority take it as a fact, but only a few individuals actually use it and grow.

What is the 80/20 Rule?

So, what is it the 80/20 rule, or Pareto principle? It states that most of the results come from the least number of causes and efforts. Literally, it means that 80% of what we achieve is usually done with just 20% of our time. 80% of our outcomes come from 20% of our efforts. That is why most of the things we do don’t actually matter. Generally, some things are likely to be much more important than others, which is contrary to what we tend to expect.

Here’s how US engineer Joseph M. Juran extolled the 80/20 principle: 

“The economist Pareto found that wealth was non-uniformly distributed in the same way. Many other instances can be found - the distribution of crime amongst criminals, the distribution of accidents among hazardous processes, etc. Pareto’s principle [the 80/20 rule] of unequal distribution applied to distribution of wealth and to distribution of quality losses.”

Examples of the 80/20 Rule

It can be illustrated by the way we talk every day. About 75% of our speech consists of 800-1000 words, which is approximately 1% of all language. This is a 75:1 ratio. In a society, 20% of the criminals commit 80% of crimes. 20% of drivers cause 80% of accidents. 20% of the population possess 80% of the wealth, the middle 60% possess about 18%, and the poorest 20% possess only 2%. 20% of a company's clients contribute to 80% of its profits. 20% of the most reported software bugs cause 80% of software crashes. 

The 80/20 rule is not exact, so the relation between components could be 70/30, 60/40, 95/5 or even 99/1, though approximately it is going to be closer to 80/20 than to 50/50. The key point is not in the percentages, but the fact that there is an inbuilt imbalance in all things; consequently, the 50/50 rule is far from true. 

Approaches to using the 80/20 rule

Effectiveness

The rule implies that you need to focus on the most valuable 20% of possible actions among the many things you simply have to do in your everyday routine. Let me make me it clear. You have to wash dishes, tidy up your house, pay bills, interact with some people you see every day. Even if you want to, you cannot just ignore them. In essence, many of these activities are totally unproductive and not beneficial for larger goals; nevertheless, there is no way you can avoid them. Here, you need to effectively approach the problem, and try to get things done as efficiently as possible. 

Improving your life

So, we have squeezed our daily routine to 20% of our time. The rest of the time we need to use for the things that matter the most and truly improve ourselves. Here are two things that should consume 80% of our time: 

Studies

This the most crucial thing that we have got to handle, even though it is the hardest one. This is what defines us as a person and specialist.

Hobbies 

You have to mix up working time with something both entertaining and useful. Learn to play the guitar, dance to hip-hop, read some interesting books, do sports, play card games and whatever else. Hobbies keep you from being overloaded with work. 

By using the 80/20 rule to prioritise our time, we end up increasing our productivity and having more time for the things that matter most to us. The rule is not just something to optimise your time, if you use these approaches properly it will start a time revolution in your life.

How Can You Start Using It Right Now?

  1. Always and everywhere try to find out what 20% of your actions can give you that 80% of results. 

  2. Be an entrepreneur by taking resources from less productive activities and investing them into more productive ones.

  3. In some jobs, you are more productive than in others, but you are reducing your effectiveness by trying to handle too many things at a time. Strive for excellence in a few things, rather than a satisfactory  performance in many.

  4. Get rid of less productive stuff, unless you are still continuing to grow in that field. Be wary of losing your potential. 

The area where you cannot use the 80/20 rule 

As with any rule, there is always an exception. Avoid using the 80/20 rule in medicine. As a doctor, you must always do all you are able to. As a person, you must care about yourself, take necessary medications in a timely manner, visit a doctor and eat healthily. When it comes to health every moment matters.

What Will The 80/20 Rule Give You?

It helps you to survive in the extremely "busy schedule" world. In the long run, you will find yourself working and worrying less while enjoying and succeeding more. The 80/20 rule makes you look at the things differently with a unique way of thinking.

In closing, I want to refer to Joseph Ford’s comments: 

“God plays dice with the universe. But they are loaded dice. And the main objective is to find out by what rules they were loaded and how we can use them for our own ends.”

The 80/20 rule can help us achieve precisely that.

So, what 20% of your work drives 80% of your outcomes?

References:

  1. Richard Koch “The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More With Less”.

  2. Joseph M. Juran “Quality Control Handbook”.

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