20% of the tasks on your checklist
will give you the largest return
for your energy investment.
20% of the tasks on your checklist of things-to-do deserve 80% of your energy! It’s called The Pareto Principle, also known as The 80-20 Rule, or The Law of the Vital Few (which sums it up quite nicely).
The principle is named after an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who, in 1906, observed that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. The Pareto Principle feels almost like a natural law operating in the universe because it seems to apply to almost all situations.
Most of us have some form of a to-do list, be it in our heads, scribbled on paper, or saved on a smart phone. These are the things that need to get done. But which items on your to-do list will lead most directly to your increased prosperity and joy?
Applying The Pareto Principle to Your Own Life
Although Pareto couldn’t skip the seeding and watering of the ineffective pea pods and just produce that productive 20%, we can examine how we spend our time.
When you look objectively at how you spend your time and pay close attention to your working practices, it’s astounding what you can discover. Look through your task list and examine which of the items on your checklist could augment your prosperity or joy when completed and select those vital few tasks first.
This Pareto Principle can be applied to everything in business and pleasure — so take a look at your schedule, your social engagements, your web bookmarks, even your TV (DVRs can fill up at an alarming rate so examine which shows truly entertain you and which you are sticking with just because you want to know if they get off that damn island… ahem, I digress).
“…which items on your to-do list
will lead most directly to your increased prosperity and joy?”
This will allow you to put greater care and attention into the remaining 20% of tasks. Microsoft applied The Pareto Principle to fixing software bugs on the 20% of features that are most often used. That way they actually sorted out 80% of the bugs people would experience.
Examples of The Pareto Principle at Work
- 80% of the world’s income is owned by the richest 20% of the world population
- 80% of profits come from 20% of customers
- 80% of health care resources are used by 20% of patients
- 80% of sales come for 20% of sales staff
- 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals
- 80% of profits come from 20% of the time you spend
There are many success principles at play in the universe, but perhaps the least utilized and understood is the 80/20 rule. It’s a simple concept that can be applied to anything in your life; use it to focus your energies where they will have the most positive impact and the largest return.