I kept pushing myself and at first, everything seemed great.
But over time, things shifted a bit.
I would be “busy” all day, yet I did not feel productive.
I went from looking like a superstar to struggling just to keep my head above water.
I would procrastinate and wait for the perfect moment to execute.
Multitasking and working on low priority items just to give myself a sense of achievement became the norm for me.
I was a total mess, working 80 hours a week with nothing to show for.
It wasn’t until I took a step back and reflected on my bad habits that I was able to restore my productivity and my peace of mind.
Luckily, at a time when I was in shambles, I came across a book called the the 4-hour work week.
The book introduced a new concept to me called the 80/20 rule that I had never encountered before.
The 80/20 rule is one of the most insightful & life-changing concepts that I’ve come across for managing my time effectively.
The Origins of the 80/20 Principle
The 80/20 principle was first recognized by Italian economist & philosopher Vilfredo Pareto in 1895, who first noticed that 20% of the pea plants in his garden generated 80% of the healthy pea pods.
He then discovered that 80% of the income produced in Italy was owned by 20% of the Italian population and that….
80% of commercial production usually originated from just 20% of the companies in their relative industries.
This observation by Pareto is what triggered this generalization to come about and to be accepted today as the 80/20 principle:
80% of results typically originate from 20% of activities.
Initially, this principle was extremely difficult for me to grasp.
I thought the 80/20 principle was for the lazy.
I speculated that if you were not pursuing all of your responsibilities in parallel, you were not being effective.
However, I decided to put my ego to the side and give this 80/20 thing a try.
I began to take inventory of my habits.
Soon enough, I began to overcome the habit of wanting to do everything.
I realized I was missing the big picture by being too focused on the small things.
Working harder was not always the ideal path.
Sometimes, working less can actually produce better results.
I started to understand that the 80/20 notion is about using your limited energy to create the maximum impact, rather than being random in the way you do things.
The problem was there are only so many hours in a day and no matter how good I was, it was stupid of me to try to do everything myself.
How I Use the 80/20
The 80/20 rule is what prompted me to study the art of automation & delegation.
For instance, if I can’t automate a task using a software or tool, then my next resort would be to outsource the task in order to concentrate on the tasks that yield the best return on investment.
Even though this concept is typically used for business purposes, it can be utilized in all aspects of our lives.
It can be applied to health, relationships, happiness, finances, time-management, and virtually every other area of life.
From a time-management perspective, the 80/20 principle has also allowed me to batch similar tasks such as checking emails or running errands, into single batches.
For instance, I spend 1-3 hours meal prepping for the entire week on a Sunday, which has allowed me to save loads of time, money, and energy.
I know exactly what I will be having for lunch and dinner every night without mulling over my next meal or having to cook from scratch.
I’m an avid reader. I love learning and improving.
Recently, I came across an Instagram advertisement that stated that the average CEO reads 60 books a year.
However, I realized I was only reading roughly 20 books a year, even with reading consuming most of my downtime.
I decided I needed to somehow be more 80/20 efficient.
I did a bit of research and came across Audible, an Amazon service that allows you to listen to audiobooks.
One of the key advantages of audiobooks is that they allow you to pace the content you consume.
I can play audiobooks at 2x or 2.5x speed and still absorb the information.
Moreover, I can listen to audiobooks while commuting, walking, cleaning, folding clothes, shaving or anything that doesn’t require much focus.
However, with reading I am unable to do that.
Nowadays, I can crank out 1-2 books a week all because of the application of the 80/20 time management principle.
I have been able to apply the 80/20 principle to my relationships as well.
Keeping a small circle of uplifting purpose-driven individuals has allowed me to focus on depth, not breadth.
I no longer spread myself too thin socially, failing to create meaningful and intense connections like I have in the past.
After much exploration and experimentation with this topic, I was able to compile a list containing numerous examples of the 80/20 principle below that may assist you in grasping the foundation of this concept.
- Which 20% of clients generate 80% of referrals?
- Which 20% of employees cause 80% of errors/micromanagement?
- Which 20% of employees are responsible for 80% of sick days?
- Which 20% of social media platforms/advertising channels generate 80% of sales?
- Which 20% of blog posts/categories generate 80% of traffic?
- Which 20% of keywords contribute to 80% of organic SEO traffic?
- Which 20% of the content will generate 80% of the value?
- Which 20% of affiliates are resulting in 80% of sales?
- Which 20% of employees generate 80% of sales/results?
- Which 20% of products result in 80% of sales?
- Which 20% of products cause 80% of quality issues?
- Which 20% of customers result in 80% of sales?
- Which 20% of customers result in 80% of complaints/stress?
- What 20% of software bugs/errors cause 80% of software crashes?
- Which 20% of the code can be optimized to improve 80% of the software?
Health & Fitness
- Which 20% of exercise movements (ex. squats, deadlifts) produce 80% of results?
- Which 20% of habits (ex. diet, exercise, sleep) contribute to 80% of self-improvement?
- Which 20% of bad habits (ex. dehydration, oversitting) cause 80% of fatigue?
- Which 20% of foods (ex. gluten, dairy, sugar) cause 80 % of brain fog?
- Which 20% of relationships account for 80% of happiness?
- Which 20% of to-do list tasks consume 80% of time?
- Which 20% of to-do list tasks contribute to 80% of the results towards my goal?
- Which 20% of the apps on my phone do I spend 80% of time on?
- Which 20% of clothes do I wear 80% of time?
- Which 20% of nearby food chains/restaurants do I dine at 80% of the time?
- Which 20% of the class material affects 80% of final grades?
- What 20% of classes result in 80% of the mastery of profession?
- Which 20% of lectures account for 80% of my curriculum comprehension?
- What 20% of foreign language vocabulary will allow me to survive 80% of common situations/conversations?
- What 20% of stock portfolio result in 80% of gains?
- Which 20% of investors provide 80% of funding?
- Which 20% of bills represent 80% of expenses?
- Which 20% of acquisitions generate 80% of business growth?
…. and so on.
There is an unlimited number of examples that you can use to apply the 80/20 rule to in your working and personal life.
No matter what your situation is, it is crucial to be cognizant that there are only so many minutes in an hour, hours in a day, and days in a week.
Finding the 80/20 ratios is fundamental to maximizing productivity.
It all begins with identifying areas in your life such as your business, health, & relationships, that may be depleting your overall productivity, evaluating the imbalances by determining the minority of inputs that are causing the disproportionate results, & finally crafting a plan to transform your habits in an 80/20 fashion.
After a while of practicing this rule, it gets easier to intuitively identify the 20% of the causes that you should devote most of your time to in order to amplify your results.
You’ll reach the point where you can subconsciously reference the 80/20 rule without necessarily analyzing the situation mathematically.
Time is our most precious resource.
It’s a depreciating asset.
How will you apply the 80/20 rule?
If you’ve enjoyed this post, I also wanted to let you know I’ve researched and assembled a guide consisting of 47 scientifically-backed ways to achieve laser-like focus, accelerate learning, & boost mental clarity.
You can download my free brain power guide here.