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How Can the 80/20 Rule Boost Your Productivity?

by Steven Brown
80 20 rule

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? If so, then you must have also heard that it makes 80% of your work disappear. Before we find out how, let’s learn about the person behind the concept.

Who Invented the 80/20 Rule?

This phenomenon was discovered by Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto. He was an engineer, philosopher, economist, sociologist, and political science. Born in Italy, Pareto noticed that twenty percent of pea plants in his garden generated eighty percent healthy pea pods. This made him think about the uneven distribution. As he explored this deeper, he found that unfortunately, about eighty percent of the property/land in his country was owned by twenty percent of the people living in Italy. He kept on exploring different industries and found the same rule applies everywhere.

Today, we know this rule as Pareto’s 80/20 rule. This imbalance is often seen in various aspects of life. You could have 15 rooms in your house but spend 80 percent of your time in your bedroom.

Did you know you can apply this theory anywhere? It’s also an application in business. there could be so many Cox cable deals but only one or two of them could be bringing the company most of its revenue. If you implement this rule in your daily life, you can actually start having a more fulfilled life.

How to Use the 80/20 Rule to Boost Productivity?

If you are a procrastinator, it would interest you that the Pareto principle can surcharge your productivity. As per this principle, you need to focus your time on the right things.

The rule says that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. This doesn’t mean you should work one day a week only. The principle doesn’t suggest working less nor does it have anything to do with time. It’s indicating to focus your efforts on areas that matter the most.

It All Starts With Finding Your 20%

Finding your 20% is critical. For that, you must understand where your efforts are going. How long do you spend on a specific task? What activities dominate your day? Here are some questions that can help you out:

  • What is your main task?
  • Is there any important work you are blowing offer in favor of urgent work?
  • What are the tasks that offer the biggest return?
  • Are there any tasks for which you wish you had more time?

Focus on the Big Tasks

Don’t avoid the big projects and spend most of your time on small tasks. We believe that if we complete small tasks, we will be motivated to tackle the big ones as well. That’s not true. When we finish the small tasks, we feel drained. Hence we don’t have enough time to do what really matters.

On the other hand, if you bite the bullet and finish the largest task first, you are spending your time and energy in the right place.

Forget about the about 80%

We all have tasks that fill up 80% of our time and effort. It’s not important to spend too much time on these tasks because they are of secondary importance.

How to Set Goals Based on the 80/20 Rule?

Are you ready to be productive and get more work done? It’s time to set goals based on this rule. Let’s see how:

Identify Tasks Based On Your Goals

Having a problem identifying key tasks? Identify the key tasks based on your goals. Make a list of tasks and prioritize them.

Take the time to clarify your goals and visions. If you have a team, discuss your goals with them. This would also be an opportunity for collecting feedback.


Once your priority list is ready, time to list down what you need to for achieving your goals. Keep in mind you must maximize focus on tasks that give you more return.

Apply the 80/20 Framework

Once you have evaluated your goals, it’s time to implement the 80/20 framework. This makes it so much easier to focus on the right things. Since you will be focusing on what brings more value, you shall start seeing results faster as well. This would give you the incentive to continue on the things that matter.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Now that you know the key to success, work smarter. Continue to prioritize and focus on the work that truly matters and you will see a spike in your productivity.


No matter what the situation, the 80/20 rule is applicable everywhere. Now that Pareto has helped us realize we could be putting our time to better use, you can narrow down your never-ending to-do list.

For instance, if your to-do list includes replying to your boss’s email and watching the Presidential debate 2020 before you turn on the TV, figure out what really matters.

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