Using the 80/20 Principle to Accomplish More With Less

There is a universal pattern of cause and effect that allows us all to accomplish more in a shorter period of time with less effort.  Discovered over 100 years ago, when applied it can help improve our business and personal life by shifting our focus to specific areas that are producing the majority of our results.   Whether it’s the quality or value of our relationships, productivity, or our stress level, making small adjustments in the right areas can have some profound effects.

The 80/20 Principle (Pareto Principle)
Named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) the 80/20 Priniciple is a predictable pattern of imbalance found in nature.  After studying land ownership in England, Pareto discovered that 80% of the income and wealth was controlled by 20% of the people.  He also discovered 80% of the peas grown in his garden came from 20% of the peapods.  In other words, approximately 20% of the causes resulted in 80% of the effects.

In 1940’s companies began to use this principle for improving productivity, lowering defect rates, and increasing quality.  There are many examples and case studies out there that document the benefits received by applying the 80/20 Principle into your business and personal life.

Examples of the 80/20 Principle
The 80/20 Principle can be observed all around us.  The actual percentages may not always be 80/20 and doesn’t matter.  It might be 70/30, 85/15, or 90/10.

  • 80% of problems in the classroom come from 20% of the students.
  • 80%  of road traffic accidents are cause by 20% of drivers
  • 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals
  • 80% of the sales come from 20% of customers.

Applying the 80/20 Principle in Your Life
If you want to experiment with creating new results in specific areas, perhaps it is time to refocus your energy on the 20% of activities that will produce most of these results. Consider the following:

20% Of Activities Produce 80% Of Results
By focusing on activities that produce the most results and eliminating or outsourcing trivial activities, we can free more of our time while accomplishing more. When I became aware of this I decided to put it to the test by observing my time for several weeks.  Using a tracking sheet, I recorded all of my activities throughout the day.  I was shocked to learn how much of my day was actually being spent on trivial or unproductive activities.

20% of Customers Cause 80% of Complaints
If the majority of your complaints and headaches come from 20% of your customers then maybe it is time to get rid of these customers.  They are most likely not the same 20% of your customers that produce 80% of your sales.

20% of Relationships Provide 80% Of Value
What are the 20% of your relationships that provide the most value (spouse, family, close friends) for you? Focusing on nurturing this small percentage can improve the overall quality of your relationships.

The 80/20 Principle has helped me analyze and adjust specific areas of my life to produce different results and especially lowering my stress level.  I am constantly checking to see if activities I plan to do are in my top 20% and how I can improve.  What possibilities might you discover by applying the 80/20 Principle in to all areas of your life?  I encourage you to experiment and see for yourself.

To your SUCCESS,

Daryl Murrow

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