Getting Better Results in Less Time

Today I want to explore a quick tool called an 80/20 analysis that can help you achieve better results in a shorter period of time.

The 80/20 analysis is based on the Pareto Principle. This principle was named for Vilfredo Pareto, who found in the late 1800s that 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of Italians in the same way that 80% of the peas produced in his garden came from 20% of the peapods. This finding was one of many analyzing inequality and examining how the few end up with so much in our economies.

From this and similar findings of the tilting of economic benefits, Pareto decided that democracy was an illusion and a ruling class would always emerge from the 20%.

In modern parlance, this extreme conclusion has been ignored and the Pareto Principle has become more of a rule of thumb applied to a wide range of areas.

While my interest in politics and economics would push me to examine the implications for modern income inequality and the policy proposals to address it, this blog is about providing tools and information that is helpful to individuals.

So instead, we’ll be looking at the modern version.

(Don’t worry. I’ve found other excuses to talk about bigger issues of politics and economics.)

The Rule of Thumb

As a rule of thumb, the 80/20 Rule states that roughly 80% of [output] comes from 20% of [input].

This could mean that 80% of your income comes from 20% of your clients. 80% of the conflict in your life comes from 20% of the people you interact with. 80% of your results come from 20% of your work.

This is obviously not an exact numerical analysis. However, it is useful as a rule of thumb.

Everything in life is unevenly distributed. The 80/20 rule reminds us of this and draws our attention to it.

Creating Efficiency

Look at your to do list. (If you don’t have one, make one. Then look at it.) Which tasks on that list are part of the 20% that will have outsized results? Which are the few tasks that are the most important?

Don’t assign equal time and equal importance to each item on your to do list just because they take up the same number of lines on the list. Identify and prioritize the few most important items to maximize your results.

Creating a habit of this will lead you to be much more efficient. Efficiency allows you to achieve the same results in less time. Or better results in the same time. Up to you.

When we work through our tasks without weighing their importance, we waste time and potential. We spend too much time on little things that don’t matter much. We are inefficient, causing us to spend unnecessary time or achieve worse results.

Doing a quick 80/20 analysis can boost our efficiency drastically, saving time and improving results.

80/20 the Negatives

This can also be viewed from the other side.

80% of negative results can come from 20% of risks. 80% of your lost time may come from 20% of your problems.

What are the negatives in your life that are creating larger than expected results?

Identifying and preparing for the most impactful risks gives us the best chance to stay on the path to success. Identifying and addressing the our most time-consuming problems allows us to improve our productivity as much as possible in minimal time.

Don’t forget to do an 80/20 analysis on negatives as well as positives.

80/20 Your Happiness

An 80/20 analysis can improve your happiness as well.

Maybe 80% of your stress is caused by 20% of the problems in your life. Identify the few biggest stressors in your life and work to eliminate them.

Perhaps 80% of your interpersonal happiness comes from 20% of your relationships. Identify those relationships and strengthen them.

Maybe 80% of the enjoyment from the things you own comes from 20% of those items. Appreciate those items and work to get rid of some things that aren’t adding to your happiness.

80/20 Your Life

The 80/20 analysis can be applied to pretty much any area of your life.

What few things have the biggest impact on your happiness?

What few routines have the biggest impact on your health?

What few uses of your time produce the biggest improvements in your life?

The 80/20 analysis can help you get on track to live a more productive life, for sure. But it can also set you up for building a happier, healthier, and wealthier life, as well.

2 thoughts on “Getting Better Results in Less Time”

  1. This is cool. I was hoping you’d get into the economics because I had never heard that part of the theory before, but after getting to the end, I’m glad you avoided temptation. 🙂

    I have a digital to-do list now that lets me rearrage line items. Every day I drag the most important/highest impact ones to the top and work my way down. It ends with several items that get carried over day after day, week after week, but it also allows me to prioritize. If it’s on my list longer than a month and still hasn’t gotten done, I figure it must not be that important and remove it.

    I like the idea of doing this for your health/happiness, too. Will have to apply. Think I may have been doing it subconsciously, but it will be interesting to see what happens when I start doing it intentionally.
    femmefrugality recently posted…How to Pick a Major Without Wasting MoneyMy Profile

    1. I may have to steal your to do list set up. I keep toying with different forms of daily list to get more done. I am good at keeping a list of everything that needs to get done and I am good at sorting the important from the unimportant and the urgent from the not urgent, but I am bad at planning out how much to plan for each day. I tend to put too much on my list for each day, which then feels overwhelming, or too little, which makes me feel lazy. I keep toying to find a good balance.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Matt recently posted…When Clickbait KillsMy Profile

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