The 80/20 Principle: the Secret of Achieving More with Less

The 80/20 Principle is also called Pareto Principle or Pareto Efficiency. It was discovered by Vilfredo Pareto. He was born in Italy on July 15 1848 and died on August 19 1923. He was an Italian civil engineersociologisteconomist, political scientist, and philosopher. He made several important contributions to economics, particularly in the study of income distribution.

Pareto was a keen observer. While strolling through his garden, Pareto noticed that every year, 20% of the pea plants in his garden produced approximately 80% of the peas.

Pareto paid great attention to this interesting phenomenon and carried out extensive investigations. The more he investigated, the more he was fascinated by his discovery. He noticed that people in his society seemed to divide naturally into what he called the “vital few,” the top 20 percent in terms of money and influence, and the “trivial many,” the bottom 80 percent. He concluded that virtually all activity was subject to this principle.

Here are some of his findings:

  • 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the population in Italy.
  • 80% of the wealth was owned by 20% of the population in Italy.

After extensive research, he developed the Pareto principle or 80/20 principle: 80% of the output or results come from 20% of the input or action.

The concept has been extrapolating to every aspect of our daily life. Here are some more Pareto rule examples:

  • 80% of sales come from 20% of clients.
  • 80% of the world’s income was generate by the richest 20% of the world’s population.
  • 80% of the federal incomes taxes in US was paid by top 20% earners.
  • 80% of the related errors and crashes in Microsoft program was caused by 20% of the most-reported bugs.
  • 80% of the wins in baseball were produced by 20% players.
  • 80% of the impacts were created by 20% of exercises and habits.
  • 80% of the injuries was the results of 20% of the hazards in Occupational health and safety.
  • 80% of health care resources were consumed by 20% of patients.
  • 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals.
  • 80% of covid-19 transmissions were from 20% of the infected individuals.
  • 80% of all traffic accidents were from 20% of drivers
  • 80% of pollution originates from 20% of all factories

And so on …

The 80/20 Rule is one of the most helpful concepts to manage your daily life. It is the secret of achieving more with less. This principle can be applied to all aspects of your life, such as time management, life quality management, business management, education, and more.

For any activities, if you have a list of ten items to do, two of those items will turn out to be worth five or ten times or more than the other eight items put together. The two tasks will contribute five or ten times the value of any of the others. These two tasks is invariably the frog that you should eat first.

The most valuable tasks you should do each day are often the hardest and most complex. But the payoff and rewards for completing these tasks efficiently can be tremendous. For this reason, you must adamantly refuse to work on tasks in the bottom 80 percent while you still have tasks in the top 20 percent left to be done.

Before you begin work, always ask yourself, “Is this task in the top 20 percent of my activities or in the bottom 80 percent? The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place. Once you actually begin work on a valuable task, you will be naturally motivated to continue. A part of your mind loves to be busy working on significant tasks that can really make a difference. Your job is to feed this part of your mind continually.

Thinking about starting and finishing an important task motivates you and helps you to overcome procrastination. Time management is really life management, personal management. It is really taking control of the sequence of events. Time management is having control over what you do next. And you are always free to choose the task that you will do next. Your ability to choose between the important and the unimportant is the key determinant of your success in life and work.

In summary, to be successful in your life and work it is critical to identify and strive for excellence in few critical items.

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