The 80/20 Rule
Get Productive
How to Take Advantage of the Pareto Principle for Better Results

We live in a world where it’s easier than ever to get your hands on stuff.

Information. Technology. People.

Why bother discriminating? We can just use everything! Sure you can. But you’d be “productive”. Not efficient.

Efficiency drives results. Not productivity. #sorrynotsorry Click To Tweet

You know those people who keep “buzzing” around saying they’re “busybusybusy”? It’s another case of all hat, no cattle.

You’d think churning out more stuff would bring home more bacon. Sure, if that stuff is good quality. But if it’s a piece of shit, then you’re not going to get much bang for your buck.

This is echoing a time honored law – The Pareto Principle.

What is a Pareto?

Long story short, there was this guy named Vilfredo Pareto. He was some whiz economist guy who said “80% of your results will come from 20% of your actions.

When I first heard that, I was like “lolwut”. But then as I got older, I saw many instances where this was true.

  • 20% of the people make 80% of the money in an company (especially if you’re in sales).
  • 20% of the books you read will account for 80% of the impact in your personal or professional life.
  • 20% of the women (or men) you meet will be attracted to you.
  • 20% of your friends will be with you when you experience 80% of your most valuable memories.
  • 20% of your effort in the gym will produce 80% of your “gainzzzz” (for all you gym bros).

These are just a few small examples. In some cases, this shift even further to extremes, like 99/1! But that’s up for debate. All that matters is… it’s real.

So is it still a “thing”? Yeah. Is it important to know, understand, and apply? You’re damn right it is.

Your first step?

Stop majoring in minor things.

You know what they are. You know. C’mon… you know, bro.

Spending hours on Facebook. Hours scrolling through Buzzfeed. Endless internet. TV watching for daaaaaaaaaays.

Surfing. Surfing. Surfing. Going nowhere. A metric ton of time down the black hole, never to be seen again. These things are fine. When moderated. But if you don’t moderate them, you will slip down the slope of life verrrrrry slowly.

Here’s a good question to ask:

Will this activity help me reach a short or long term goal directly or indirectly?” If not…

Cut it out or minimize it.

Easier said than done. This is because some of us have neural wiring that makes us want to spend most of our time in the 80% of trivialities.

These are the things that are easy and FUN to do, but produce minimal long term results.

The other 20%? Makes a MASSIVE difference and allows us to shoot up that slight edge curve towards greatness.

At this point, you may be asking yourself – “what is the 20%?” Awesome question.
Many people never get ahead because they major in minor things. Click To Tweet

Focus on key result areas

First of all – you have to know… “what do you want?Clarity is essential.

What’s important to you? What will make all the difference in your quality of life? Is it more money? More friends? A better job?

Then, you start to rally your forces towards those areas.

Let’s take an example: your job. You spend most of your day at work (another fine example of this rule), so it helps to be effective rather than just productive.

Why are you on the payroll?

What have you been hired for? What contributes to the bulk of your value? If you’re a salesperson, your value is in closing sales with customers in order to generate revenue. You do this by making sales calls, qualifying leads, and then getting out in front of people who want to buy. Therefore, you focus most of your efforts on those activities.

This is excruciatingly hard to do and requires tons of discipline. Eighty of salespeople don’t do this. As a result, the other 20% of the salespeople take home 80% of the money.

When you start to focus on key result areas in your work and in life, you start to see your life change in incredible ways.

You don't have time for everything, only time for the most important things. Click To Tweet

Think long term

I like to combine this with another economic theory known as “marginal gains” or “the slight edge”. This means you are getting slightly better or slightly worse everyday.

That’s not the full side of the story, however. Over time, this will compound to an incredible degree. Like interest on a credit card or in a savings account. This is why something like deliberate practice is so important.

The slight edge combined with the 80/20 rule will shoot you up to the top or drag you down. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy down. Capisce?

Your next steps

Putting this to use isn’t really that hard. Just requires some practice and discipline. I’m not always successful in this area either, but I’ve come a long way from when I used to major in minor things.

First, establish what it is that you want to achieve. Set it as a goal.

Second, break it down into steps. What do you have to do first? What do you have to do second? Can those be broken down into SMALLER chunks?

Third, start on it immediately. Don’t hesitate. The time is now.

Fourth, use the slight edge to your advantage. The slight edge is always in effect. Work on it as much as possible so you build up momentum.

Fifth, don’t stop until the task is finished. Don’t let up. Keep funneling more and more effort into it until you’ve reached your goal.

This is the REAL “secret” of productivity. It isn’t through reading books about productivity, it isn’t from reading articles (like this one, haha), it isn’t from hearing about it from “gurus”.

Focus on key result areas. Get results in those areas. Delegate or delay the rest.

I want to hear from you: how are you planning to focus on the 20% areas that will produce results? What will you cut out? What will you minimize?


  • Del

    August 15, 2016

    Great piece of writing. In addition to asking the “what do you want?” question, I think it’s equally, if not more important to ask the “why do you want it?” question? You might be hardwired to do something because of social media, the news, pop culture, etc. but inherently, it’s not really the right thing for you. Asking yourself “why” can help you gain clarity.


    • Sim Campbell

      August 15, 2016

      Definitely, Del. Never thought about it from this perspective.


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