Want to know what is the 80/20 rule in time management? Then you’re in the right place.
You’ve no doubt heard of the Pareto Principle. It states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. The original principle was developed by an economist named Vilfredo Pareto in the early 1900s, and has since been applied to every niche imaginable. Experts in fields ranging from aerospace to zoology use the Pareto Principle to help them decide to allocate their limited resources.
Back in the early 1900s, Pareto observed that 80% of the peas produced by his garden came from 20% of his pea pods (1). That observation, which later became known as the 80/20 rule, was further developed by specialists in a variety of fields.
What Is The 80/20 Rule In Time Management:
For example, in retail, it was observed that 80% of sales came from 20% of customers. In the music industry, 80% of the available radio coverage is given to 20% of the bands and musical artists. (Actually, it’s more like 99% / 1%, but you get the idea.) In software engineering, 80% of productivity comes via 20% of the engineering team’s processes.
The point is, not every task on your to-do list has the same importance. Some tasks will contribute to your goals much more than others. Some will be a complete waste of time. You need to determine which tasks are worth focusing on and which can be put on the backburner or dismissed entirely.
Why You Must Apply The 80/20 Rule To Your Life
Applying the Pareto Principle is one of the most important habits you can develop if you want to increase your productivity. If you never distinguish between the tasks that contribute to your goals and those that do not, you’ll forever waste time.
Time wasted on non-essential tasks is time that could be spent with your family and friends; or building a side business that generates a second income; or advancing your career and becoming an authority in your niche; or simply relaxing and allowing your brain to recover after a demanding day.
By applying the 80/20 rule in time management, you’ll be more inclined to weed out the peripheral activities that offer little value. In doing so, you’ll free up more time that can be used toward more productive and rewarding ends.
There are a myriad of ways you can apply the 80/20 rule to your day. It just takes a little creativity and a willingness to chuck most of the extraneous tasks currently filling up your to-do list.
How To Apply The 80/20 Rule And Save More Time
First, let’s talk about your email. Do you truly need to read every message that comes into your inbox? Probably not. Most of them can be ignored or read when you have free time on your hands. Think of the email newsletters you receive. You can probably unsubscribe from most of them and suffer zero consequences.
Second, consider the voicemails you receive. Is it imperative that you return each one? Again, probably not. Sure, every person who leaves a voicemail for you might want a response. But their desire for one doesn’t obligate you. In those cases when a response is warranted, consider emailing the requested information. That way, you can avoid getting trapped in a phone conversation that cuts into your productive work time.
Third, if you run a business, think about the amount of time you spend addressing customers’ complaints. Are you using that time efficiently?
Consider: some of your customers contribute a high percentage of sales, and thus deserve a lot of attention. Other customers may contribute very little to your bottom line. Hence, it makes little sense to spend a significant amount of time addressing their complaints, especially if their complaints lack merit. It’s better to offer a full refund and move on.
One way to save time as a business owner is to come up with a way to minimize complaints in the first place. If you’re a service provider, make sure your service is top-notch. If you sell products, make sure they’re of high quality. Also, post a Frequently Asked Questions page on your website that can head off potential problems that multiple customers have reported in the past.
Fourth, scrutinize each task on your to-do list (2) that repeats or is similar to tasks you’ve completed in the past. Those items are taking a lot of your time over the long run. Ask yourself how they’ve contributed to your goals. Did they move you forward? If so, by how much?
Here, you want to determine whether the tasks are worth your time and attention. Are you performing them because they’re important or because you’ve always performed them? If they’re not contributing to your goals, cross them off your list.
Fifth, think about your internet surfing. Think about the sites you visit each week. Write them down and set the list aside. Then, review the list after a week has passed. How many of the sites proved useful to your goals? How many contributed to your bottom line?
Chances are, very few will qualify as keepers. It’s fine to surf for pleasure. The internet can be a good way to relax. But if you’re spending hours each day on Facebook, CNN and YouTube, you’re wasting a considerable amount of time.
We’ve only covered a few areas in your life that could benefit from the 80/20 rule. You can apply it in many other ways. The important thing to remember is that your time is like money. Every minute you save by getting rid of nonessential tasks is a minute you can spend elsewhere.
For some people, that’s a life-changing epiphany. Bottom line: to become ultra-productive, get into the habit of consistently applying the 80/20 rule in every area of your life.