In the 1800s, an Italian economist (Alfredo Pareto) observed that 80% of the land in his country was owned by 20% of the population. It turns out that the land in most other countries is distributed in exactly the same way.
Years later, a consultant (Joseph Juran) noticed that this distribution also applies in business. The Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) suggests that 80% of a company’s sales for example will come from 20% of their clients.
Interestingly, the Pareto Principle isn’t only limited to land or sales. In athletics, 20% of your exercises will yield 80% of your gains. In customer service, 20% of the customers will make up 80% of the complaints. Even in computer programming, fixing the top 20% of bugs in the code, will resolve 80% of users’ issues.
But how can the 80/20 rule affect your life? It applies to work and success too as 80% of your success will come from 20% of your work/effort. Yes, we waste a vast majority of our time. According to the Harvard Business Review, almost everything we do is unimportant as we spend 80% of our time distracted and inattentive.
The key is to identify that all important 20%. When making your to-do list, order it from most to least important and focus on the top 20%.