Established, since 1997, leading UK based training provider.

The 80/20 Rule - Pareto Principle - Explained

The 80/20 Rule - Pareto Principle - Explained

Definition: What is the 80/20 Principle?

The 80/20 principle states that 80% or more of the value of anything is contained in the 20% or less of its content.

The 80/20 rule expanded its meaning to suggest the following is also true.

  1. 80% or more of the crime in any town, is committed by 20% or less of the population.
  2. 80% or more of the traffic, is on 20% or less of the road network.
  3. 80% or more of the questions, come from 20% or less of the class.
  4. 80% or more of the value of a newspaper, is contained in 20% or less of the content, etc

The 80/20 rule means that 80% or more of the value of something is contained in only 20% of its content.

How to use the Pareto 80/20 principle in your work

You can use the 80/20 rule at work by understanding that 80% of your value to your organisation is contained in only 20% (or less) of what you do.

Putting the same point in another way, 80% of what you do in a weeks' worth of effort, contributes very little value to your organisation.

A much smaller portion of what you do in a week is where you earn your salary.

The assumption is that there are usually between five and nine activities that will account for 80% of your value to your organisation.

If you do these activities well, then this is what you are paid for. All the other things you do, sitting in low value meetings, reading trivial emails, arguing with the manager, complaining about the system; none of this adds any value and could theoretically be dispensed with.

Let us assume that there are about six tasks that constitute the Pareto 20%. Only six tasks that, if you did first and did well, would mean that you could go home early; safe in the knowledge that all the things that your job description demands, has been done, and you have earned your wages.

What would those tasks be? For instance, my list is as follows. It contains only four items.

  1. Website search engine optimisation work.
  2. Sales calls.
  3. Preparation for training.
  4. Delivery of training.

That is my Pareto list. If I do these things well, then I am earning my wages. Every task that takes me off these things is relatively a waste of time; or even counter-productive.

Does the Pareto Principle apply to everything?

Yes!

What list of items, constitutes your list of Pareto 20% activities? What are the six activities that, if you did first and well, would mean that you could go home safe in the knowledge that you have done all the most valuable things and you have earned your wages?

Once you know your Pareto 20% list, then your mission is to spend as much time as you can on those items and perfect them.

Keep away from doing things that take you off your Pareto 20% list. These other tasks are relatively trivial, and they are not what you are paid to do.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it is to......

Take a card and make a list of six Pareto 20% items. Then stick it to your PC and spend your time primarily doing the things that are on that list.

Blogs by Email

Do you want to receive an email whenever we post a new blog? The blogs contain article 5-10 minutes long - ideal for reading during your coffee break!

Your Comments

Further Reading in Time Management

  • Time management and personal effectiveness
    Time management training I recently received the following note from a business leader. "We need to look at doing some time management training because many of our people are employed based on their technical knowledge and skills: They are technical experts and on the technical level, our people are very good...
    Read Article >
  • Time management question - How can I better manage my time?
    How can I manage my time better? Most people need to be better at time management. Why? Because they find there is always too much to do in the time available. So, there are many people that need to learn to prioritise and concentrate only on the most important and urgent...
    Read Article >
  • Time Management Training Tips - Early Bird Catches the Worm
    The early bird catches the worm Time management is the art of getting the most valuable work done per hour. It is not about trying to make yourself work harder and longer. It is about making more progress in less time. Time management is a measure of your efficiency. So you...
    Read Article >
  • The Avoidance of Preventable Errors
    No one is perfect, we are only human, and as such we make stupid mistakes. However, there are some steps we can take to eliminate them.
    Read Article >
  • How to Stop Procrastinating
    The act of procrastinating means you are wasting valuable time, when you could be investing that time in doing something worthwhile or improving yourself. Use these simple strategies to overcome procrastination and take back control of your day.
    Read Article >