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Improve Your Life With the 80/20 Rule

Dec 6th, 2022

The 80/20 principle, also known as the Pareto Principle, came from an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto. He noticed that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population, he also observed about 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas, and he continued to notice the same pattern in a multitude of other situations.

The principle is most often applied to business scenarios such as "80% of sales come from 20% of clients," but since the principle is an observation and not a law, the percentages may not be true for every situation. It can be used as a guideline, however, for many instances and it can also be applied to our daily lives.

Improving your Life with the 80/20 Rule

Get fit

Most of us have probably heard that "it's 80% nutrition and 20% exercise" when it comes to losing weight. This is because it is much easier to cut calories through nutrition than exercise. You need to burn about 3, 500 calories to lose one pound. Depending on your size and speed, you would need to spend anywhere from 3 to 10 hours on the treadmill to burn off a pound!

For effective weight loss, we need diet and exercise, but what we eat matters more because you can’t outwork a poor diet. That is why following the 80/20 rule is so beneficial. Try basing your fitness plan on eating right 80% of the time and focusing 20% on exercise. This works as an "everything in moderation" plan. If you eat healthy 80% of the time and indulge only 20% of the time, you will find that you can lose weight and stick with the plan long-term.

Stop wasting time

Time is a precious commodity and shouldn’t be wasted. The 80/20 rule can be helpful when it comes to time management. If 80% of results come from 20% of effort, we can identify the 20% of our tasks that are producing the 80% of results that we seek.

In other words, our productivity can be improved by identifying the small things that produce the biggest results. To do this, start by reviewing the tasks that need to be completed and determine whether they are urgent, if too much time is being spent on them and if they are necessary to the overall outcome. Once unnecessary tasks or items that don’t’ produce the most productive results are removed, you will have more time to focus on the things that ultimately push you toward your goals. Additionally, by reviewing our goals we can determine which 20% of the activities will get us closer to the majority of our objectives. Once you have determined which 20% of the tasks will most benefit your outcome, you can place your focus on those things.

To take this just one step further and be even more effective, find your most productive time of the day and work on your biggest most productive tasks at that time. For many people, the early morning is a great time of day to get things done uninterrupted. For others, evening hours may be more beneficial. The important thing is to find the time of day that works best for you and use that time to your benefit.

Find balance

The relationship between input and output is out of balance within the 80/20 rule. For example, 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. This means that if you have a list of ten items that need to be completed, two of those will be worth as much or more than the other eight items put together.

Although all the tasks may take the same amount of time to complete, one or two of them will be more valuable than the others. Those are the tasks that should be completed first. Once these are determined, it will be easier to plan out the rest of the tasks that need to be completed that day, week, etc.  We can find balance by scheduling our to-do list and not trying to complete everything at once.

Timeboxing can help you manage your time when you want to work on a high priority task. Enter a block of time on your calendar that you will dedicate to this task only. This should be treated like an appointment that cannot be missed or cancelled. Timeboxing can help with procrastination and worrying about getting a difficult task done.

We can use the 80/20 principle in our daily lives for time management, improved health and for finding balance. Some other advantages include greater productivity, improved decision-making skills, clearer priorities, and increased self-confidence. Start today by making a list of your goals and responsibilities and resolve that you are going to spend more of your time working in those areas that can truly make a difference in your life.

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Photo courtesy Pixabay/Pexels

Author of Article

Barbara Bauer is a Georgia-based blogger obsessed with inspiring others in the pursuit of self-development. She enjoys exploring the outdoors, drinking way too much coffee, and speaking with a British accent whenever possible.

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