The Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, is a concept that can revolutionize your goal-setting and daily routine.
In simple terms, it's that
20 percent of your activities will account for 80% percent of your results
History and it's basic concept
Named after its founder, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, its origins lie in the common trends that exist in the world. Pareto noticed that a small minority (the top 20% in Italy at the time) held most of the wealth. Similarly, that 20% also had most of the influence in society.
We can generalize the principle to mean one should focus on the vital actions that will produce the largest output. A simple illustration of this is thinking of what’s the best investment of my time.
How to change our mindset towards goal setting
One of the most important applications of this principle is changing how you set and filter through your goals. For each goal that you have planned to achieve, you should be thinking about how large of a return you will receive for your time invested.
This simple step should be done immediately by writing your current goals and it’s expected benefit towards your life. The next best course of action is to add to that list of filtered goals, brainstorming skills you could learn, projects to complete, or people to meet that will quadruple the effort and time you put in.
Easy applications based on the 80/20 rule.
- Start the day with a plan - Before you start your work, plan out your day. By spending just 30 minutes or fewer organizing your tasks, you can double or even triple your productivity. (For more ideas on morning routines, check out A Simple Morning Habit)
- Prioritize and then prioritize some more - One way to plan out your day is to prioritize. If you have a list of tasks for the day, or long-term goals, mentally force yourselves to prioritize the hard tasks that will reap the most benefit. By that simple step you avoid falling into the trap of spending your the beginning of your work (which is usually when you have the most energy and productivity) clearing up the small low-level tasks.
- Improve in what’s important - For the 20% of your tasks or skills that provide 80% percent of the results make sure you continue to improve in those areas to maximize your results even further. For example, in business, if one type of customers is bringing in 80% of the profits, start gearing your products and marketing towards that group of people.
- Anti-distraction Tool - As humans, rewards motivate us and keep us on track. For myself, by keeping in mind that what I am working on is an investment that will produce 80% of the results, it's much easier to keep myself from becoming distracted by reading the news or checking social media.
- Amateur - When learning the guitar, for example, learning just a few chords and some basic strumming patterns, you can play many pop songs at an amateur level
The Pareto principle also goes beyond mindsets, goals, and productivity. Spend quality time with the few people in your life that bring you the most joy. Similarly, prioritize your hobbies and passions. Invest your time wisely.