What is the 80/20 Rule?
In 1906, Italian engineer Vilfredo Pareto noticed that about 20% of the citizens of his home country of Italy held about 80% of the wealth of the entire country. The principle that 20% of causes lead to 80% of the outcomes has spread to all areas of life and became known as the 80/20 rule or Pareto principle.
Applied to time management, 80/20 rule means that about 20% of the tasks that you perform will lead to 80% of the results that you get.
Effective time management is all about being aware of what you are doing and constantly asking yourself whether you are working on something essential, the 20% that will lead to 80% of the results, or the non-essential, the 80% of things that result only in 20% of the outcomes.
Your goal should be to identify and isolate the tasks that will help you accomplish your goals. Then, create routines and systems that allow you to complete these tasks without interruptions and distractions.
Effective Time-Management is Based on Constant Prioritization.
Once you create a list of your goals and a list of your tasks, you need to prioritize them so that you can focus on the things with most value. For example, if your long-term goal is to buy your mountain dream home and help support your children in college, you may choose to prioritizing being a working mom over a stay-at-home mom.
However, it’s not always so grand at that. Sometimes it’s simply of prioritizing whether making dinner or getting take out is a better use of your time. Or if having pets that require time for care is worth missing out on time you could be spending watching netflix or on other hobbies.
When I started my businesses, I prioritized working over cleaning my home. I didn’t have the time to maintain a spotless home, meal plan, stay on top of yard work, play with the kids, take care of pets, and a million other things while trying to run a business as well. So I let the housework go.
My home was a disaster. And I mean disaster. I was always behind on laundry and dishes and literally everything else. But I still had time to play with my kids. They had tons of fun making giant toy messes that mom wouldn’t yell at them for, and I was able to work. I dedicated one day a week to cleaning as much as I could, and the rest of the week I focused on working.
Eventually, I was able to use the money I made working to cover some of the household chores I didn’t enjoy so that I could find the balance in my life again.
Figuring Out Where to Focus Your Energy is Vital.
If you apply the 80/20 rule effectively, it will help you become more productive at work and at home. Be open and honest with yourself about what you can do, need to do, and want to do.
What are the activities that make your family feel the most loved? Prioritize those. Make sure you do them. If you get busy and miss out on other parts of life sometimes, make sure you’re never missing out on the 20% of things that are most important to your family.
When your family life starts to feel extra demanding and cut into some of your work time, make sure you’re always accomplishing the 20% of tasks most vital to your work. If the lesser things slide for a while, it’ll be okay. But if the core things start to be missed, it can create big problems.
An Example of Effectively Using the 80/20 Rule.
The 80/20 rule helps you realize what things are most important and valuable to your like, so that you can create lists of your personal goals and priorities that are aligned with these things. This is the framework for setting yourself up for success.
For example, maybe you think that your dream lifestyle is to have a perfectly manicured lawn and be a savvy budgeter and travel the world and have lots of pets, etc. Yes, these things all sound nice. Realistically, however, no one can have it all. To make the most of your personal time, figure out which of these things is most important to you, then figure out how you can align your time with that thing.
For example, if you enjoy entertaining guests in your backyard and hosting big backyard get togethers is one of your absolute most favorite things to do, then you can afford to spend time on gardening and landscaping. This makes sense and your goals align.
However, if you like to spend your free time traveling and rarely have anyone over to see your backyard, then it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to spend a lot of time on getting and achieving the perfect yard when you’re just planning to leave it. Trying to maintain a perfect yard and fitting in world travel will just lead to frustrations as the person watching your home may not take care of your yard as well as you, not many people will be there to see it anyway, and you’ll waste time and money on an activity that really isn’t the most important thing to you. Instead, set up a simple, easy to maintain yard and focus your time on budgeting and planning for your vacations, not gardening.
You may think that you need to have it all—the house, the yard, the pets, the vacations, the dream job—but if you really step back and think about it, you’ll probably find that you’ll be perfectly happy doing less.
Everything Should Align with Your Priority List.
If you haven’t already, make a list of the things that are most important to you in your life and your career. Then, each day or the night before, write down what you want to accomplish by the end of the day in the order that’s most important to you according to your main priorities and goals.
You may not accomplish every single thing on your list everyday, but this will help you ensure that you’re getting the things done that matter most to you. It will also help you focus your energy and mind power on doing and not thinking about to-dos all day.
It will also help you visualize and realize when you’re trying to accomplish too much. If you’re daily to-do lists are getting too long for any one person to effectively manage, then it’s time to cut back some of your lesser priorities. Get rid of the “yard work” per say, as demonstrated in my previous example.
I hope this helps you prioritize your days so that you can accomplish more.
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule before? Let me know in the comments below!