20% of your effort can gain you more than you think.

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Have you heard of the 80/20 principle, if not it basically says that nature, systems and things in general follow a certain natural distribution. For example if you are working on a project with a team of people and lets say their is 10 in your work team, the Pareto principal would say that it is very likely that 2 people in the group will do 80% of the work in the project, does that sound familiar? you know that collage or work project in which you and someone else did most of the work.


If you read wikipedia you can see that the Pareto principle is named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who noted that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. He expanded his studies to also notice that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

What I like about this principal is how It can basically be applied to anything and it will give you a good sense of what should you focus your efforts on.

For example I have set of products that I sell in my website and if I run through a simple “Pareto analysis” I can see that 80% of my revenue is driven by 20% of my products, it is more like 90%/10% at the moment but this view helps me focus my efforts on the products that give me the most benefit.

Their are numerous applications of the rule, the important thing for me is how it helps me focus on what is important, here are some example questions that apply the principle in a simple manner to allow me to focus my effort on the important things.

What 2 tasks out of this days 10 task will gain me most of the work for the day ?

Which 2 people out of my 10 contacts should I connect with that will help me the most with my next project?

What 2 books should I read for the list of 10 best books that will give me the knowledge I am looking for?

Which supplier 2 supplier out of the 10 I am quoting will provide the best service?

What 2 activities out of the 10 activities I have planned for this week with my kids will they enjoy the most.

The key take away is that more than likely if you look at any situation you should be able to focus your effort on the critical 20% part it could gain you 80% of the benefits with out having to invest more than you expected.

Generally speaking

  • 20% of inputs creates 80% of the outputs
  • 20% of effort leads to 80% of the results
  • 20% of causes lead to 80% of the consequences

Can you share an example of applying this principal in your life?


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