The 80/20 Rule: Living and Working Smarter, Not Harder


Do you ever feel challenged balancing or harmonising your work and life? Maybe there are days when you have extreme productivity, are in flow, feel as though you are flourishing and are getting results you are after. Then, there can be days or even months, when you feel as though you are getting no where on completing those tasks or projects that are important to you and not getting the results you are after. Don’t worry, I can relate!

In this post, I am going to discuss –

  • What is the 80/20 Rule?
  • Observation, NOT Law
  • A Word of Warning
  • The Key Point – Quality versus Quantity
  • Applying the 80/20 Rule

What is the 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 rules is also know as the Pareto Principle. There are a number of explanations of the 80/20 rule and a few include –

  • “The Pareto principle (also known as the 8020 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.” ~ Wikipedia
  • “Management Consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population. The assumption is that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes.” ~ Wikipedia

Observation, NOT Law

The 80/20 Rule or Pareto Principle is an observation, not a law. It indicates that most things in life are not distributed evenly. For example –

  • 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes
  • 80% of results are created by 20% of the input
  • 80% of the world’s wealth is owned by 20% of people
  • 80% of results are produced by 20% of the workers
  • 80% of business sales are made by 20% of the staff
  • 80% of revenue is created by 20% of the customers
  • 80% of satisfaction from our relationships flows from 20% of the relationships
  • 80% of your satisfaction from spending comes form 20% of purchases
  • 80% of the time you wear 20% of your clothes
  • And on and on…

A Word of Warning when Using the 80/20 Rule…

When implementing this idea, be careful. There is a common misconception that the numbers 20 and 80 must add to 100 – they don’t!

For example – if I take the statement 80% of the results are produced by 20% of the workers. 20% of the workers could also create 10% of the result, or 50%, 75%, 99%, or even 100%, it really depends on the workers.

In a group of 100 workers, 20 could do all the work while the other 80 disengage. In that case, 20% of the workers did 100% of the work. So, remember the 80/20 rule is a rough guide about typical distributions.

The Key Point – Quality versus Quantity

The numbers is the 80/20 rule do not have to be “20%” and “80%” exactly and they don’t have to add up to 100%. The key point is the majority of things in life (effort, reward, output) are not distributed evenly – some contribute and give more than others. Subsequently, we can focus on quality and not quantity.

Applying the 80/20 Rule

Applying the 80/20 rule in work, business and life, means identifying and implementing the activities (i.e. approximately 20%) that give you the best results (i.e. 80%). How do you do this?

  1. Identify an area of your work, business or life where there is an imbalance in your results (i.e. an area where you are currently not living your greatness or flourishing).
  2. In the area you chose, identify the inputs that are contributing the most to your results. What percentage of your time, energy and attention are you contributing to these inputs?
  3. Discover ways to increase the time, energy and attention on your most leveraged inputs. Each week, month, quarter and year, place these activities as your highest priority! If there are any activities that are not nourishing you or contributing to your greatness, see if there are any ways to outsources, stop or downplay those.

Over to You…

Living and working smarter, not harder is what the 80/20 Rule is all about. Life truly is about flourishing and sharing your greatness. I hope this post has helped you learn more about the 80/20 Rule. Any questions, please let me know below. If you are interested in reading more, why not try the book by Richard Koch Living the 80/20 Way.

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?

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