Named after its founder, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, the Pareto Principle is commonly known as the 80/20 rule. He observed that in terms of wealth and influence people were usually divided into two groups – the top 20% (“the vital few”) and the bottom 80% (“the trivial many”).
To use this principle in goal setting and efficiency we can say that 20% of your actions will make up 80% of your results.
80/20 rule in everyday life
On any given day if you have 10 things to do, two of these will be the ‘vital few’ and the remaining eight will account for the ‘trivial many’.
Unfortunately, most people dally and push back the important 20% of items, instead busying themselves with the trivial pursuits that make up the bottom 80%. Not only is this an example of poor time management but it hampers success.
How to maximize on the Pareto Principle
In order to apply the 80/20 rule to goal setting and to make the most of it, start by listing down 10 goals. Then, sort these goals based on the order of importance. Ask yourself if you had to accomplish only two of these goals which ones would you choose? Which goal would bring about the biggest positive impact in your life?
Repeat this exercise till all your goals are ranked in order of their importance.
Save the best for last
We often come across those who are super busy all the time but seem to achieve precious little. This is because they are always busy laboring on the low value tasks while delaying the critical activities that could really turn around their lives and careers.
It is important to remember that the tasks that make it to the top of your list are also going to seem as the most difficult or complicated. But the returns or payoffs of these very tasks are tremendous.
Before you begin any task refer to your list and check for its priority value. Is it in the top 20% or the bottom 80%?
The simple truth is: Attack the toughest first. Fight against the temptation to start on the easy, less valuable things.
If you begin your day with the low-priority tasks, you will enter a vicious cycle of always starting and working on the bottom 80%.
Finally, when your goals are clear, you will know exactly the path to achieving them.