The 80 / 20 Rule Acknowledged, Understood, Explained & Applied

Everyone has heard of the 80 / 20 rule or ‘The Pareto Principle”.

The Pareto Principle so named after the founder, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923).80 20 rule explained

Pareto explained how only 20% of his pea pods produced 80% of his garden peas. Then around 1895, Pareto used this principle to reveal an uneven and predictable distribution of wealth. He noted people in society appeared to divide into, (his words) the “vital few” or top 20% in terms of money & influence and the “trivial many” or the bottom 80%. This still holds true today.

This became Pereto’s Distribution, Pareto’s Law or the 80/20 Principle, was first published in his seminal work, in 1897, “Cours d’economie politique”

A Seminal work, may describe a study that changes our understanding of a topic, or describes and illustrates a new and highly useful research method. He put forth that his principle could be applied everywhere.

Understanding the 80 / 20 rule

We can take the 80 / 20 rule and apply it to any situation. If we can understand the principle we can learn to prioritize our tasks, our days, our ideas, our goals, our expectations.  Explain the 80 20 rule

The numbers don’t have to be “80%” and “20%” exactly, and these values are not significant, they could just as easily be 60% and 10%. It is a rough guide about typical distributions and the fact that there is a considerable disproportion.

The key point of the 80 / 20 rule is that most things in life (effort, reward, output) are not distributed evenly – some contribute more than others.

The 80 / 20 Rule Explained

We could start with this comment, ” 80% of what we do is really rather pointless” because 20% or any effort will give us 80% or the result we are looking for……  example 80 20 rule

I work five days a week, therefore based on 80 / 20 only one of these days is actually productive, so I decided to track my work and see if this was correct. It quite blew me away to discover that, yes, most of my productivity is centered around one day, the other days are a lead up and a close down.

I started to do a bit of research, into the 80 / 20 rule and found some interesting comparisons, here are a few

  • 80% of output comes from 20%of input
  • 80% of profit comes from 20% of product & customers
  • 80% of all consequences come from only 20% of causes

How can I apply this 80 / 20 rule?

Are you ready to examine yourself, your issue, your frustrations? If so, ask yourself……

  • Which of your current efforts are giving you an 80% result of your desired outcomes and happiness?
  • Which of your current efforts are causing you 80% of your problems and unhappiness?

These are not guesswork questions, you have to sit down and write your answers honestly. Write an overview of how you really, actually spend your time.

Record everything you do, then analyze each step of each task listed and ask yourself the two questions above in the context of the tasks you are analyzing. You should find this a very interesting exercise.

My 80 / 20 rule example

Here is my analogy of the 80/20 rule ,which is, it’s not about what happens during your day, it’s all about how you deal with what happens each day.

Or 80% of what happens during the day you have no control over
and the 20% is how you deal with the 80%.

Or 80% of all consequences come from only 20% of causes

This is the Scenario I like to use as an explanation:-

– the family are sitting around the table having breakfast, mum,
dad, Mary & Tommy. Tommy reaches across the table and spills his glass of
milk – what happens next?

Mum jumps up, yells at Tommy, grabs a cloth starts to soak up
the milk, all the while berating Tommy. Mary sneaks away from the table,
Dad tells mum to stop shouting at the child, mum turns on dad, Tommy is crying.
Everyone leaves the house in the morning in bad moods, upset and unhappy……

……you can complete the rest of this scenario, kids late for school, dad in minor accident driving angry…..

Mum jumps up, quickly clears up the spill, tells Tommy it’s OK sweetheart, it’s all sorted. Disaster is averted, mess is cleaned up quickly. Everyone finishes breakfast and leaves for school and work happy.

The 80/20 rule my way!

HOW DO YOU USE THE 80/20 Rule in your life?

Remember – 80 percent of the issues we have with others are our own internal battles. 20 percent are actual relationship issues.

Quote of the day!

“Man is not disturbed by events, but by the view he takes of the event!” — Epictetus

Feel free to leave a comment below on what you think of the 80 / 20 rule and how you use it or don’t….






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