By Tristan Loo
In 1895, Italian economist, Dilfredo Pareto, first wrote about the principle known as the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule. The 80/20 Rule according to Pareto simply meant that the top 20% of people in a given society possessed all the money and influence while the other 80% possessed very little power and influence.
Productivity experts later discovered that the same 80/20 Rule applied to time management and personal productivity as it did with economics. Productivity experts used the Pareto Principle arguable to state that only 20% of a person’s daily activities would account for 80% of their given results. They also claimed that 20% of products would account for 80% of a business’s profit; or 20% of a consultant’s services accounts for 80% of their profits; or that 20% of customers would account for 80% of all sales.
What does the 80/20 Rule Mean for Personal Productivity?
Having worked in the capacity as a manger, I can tell you that most people spend most of their time on the 80% of activities that generate little to no value and they procrastinate on the top 20% of their daily activities that are of the highest value. Take a look at your own life to witness this for yourself. Go to your work place or go to your school and notice people who appear to be busy throughout the entire day but who produce very little in the way of their own personal productivity or value for the company that they are working.
How can people who are so busy not produce anything at all or very little?
It is simply because they are slaves to the 80/20 Rule and spending the bulk of their day or their entire day focusing their attention on tasks or activities that are very low in value for themselves or for their company and they put off the activities that can produce a very high rate of return for themselves or their company. Why is that? It is my experience that people procrastinate or never get around to those high value activities that are in the top 20% of their daily activities simply because those top 20% of activities are typically the longest, or the most difficult or the most challenging or the most complex activities that they have to deal with and they simply don’t want to dedicate their time or resources on those given tasks that will produce results for them and their company. Instead they busy themselves with the smaller, easier to do tasks that produce a very small amount of return for them.
So how can you use the 80/20 Rule to your Advantage?
Before you invest your time into any activity that you do you must first ask yourself is this task in the bottom 80% that will not produce any value for me or my company or is this task in the upper 20% that is going to produce value for me or my company. Ask yourself this question first and come up with an answer before you invest your time in anything that you do.
Look back on the activities that you did in the past week. And ask yourself have you been spending your time on activities that produce little value for yourself. If the answer is yes, then more than likely you have taken to the bad habit of dealing with the 80% of low value activities in your life instead of attacking the top 20% of value producing activities. You want to make a conscious effort today, right now, to change that habit to invest your time in the top 20% instead of the lower 80%. How can you achieve this? The easiest way to put this change of habit into effect is by writing all the tasks you must accomplish today. Once you have done that, next to each task write whether it falls into the 80% (low producing category) or the top 20% (the value producing category). I suggest writing this on paper because getting it on paper allows you to visualize the changes that you need to make. Also by getting it onto paper it allows your subconscious mind to start processing and putting into action the necessary steps for change.
The benefits of attacking the top 20% of activities first every day is that not only will your level of success, productivity and value increase dramatically but also the amount of satisfaction, pride, and your overall health and well-being will go up dramatically. By attacking the top 20% first you effectively create a lot of momentum for yourself because you are able to get the burdensome or most complex tasks out of the way in the very beginning and getting the rest of the 80% of tasks that you have to get done is just a downhill ride from there. In order to change your life today, make a conscious effort to transfer your valuable time to those things that are important in your life that will produce results.
Tristan Loo is the founder of the Synergy Institute, a Personal Development Firm based out of San Diego County, Calfornia. Tristan is a former police officer, author, professional mediator, and conflict negotiator. He is the author of Street Negotiation--How to Resolve Any Conflict Anytime. Please visit our website at http://www.synergyinstituteonline.com or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org