We often find ourselves bursting through the day trying to finish all the tasks we have on our plates. There is just so much stuff to finish, so many different kinds of people to deal with and so many steps to be made to accomplish our goals. It can be quite overwhelming at times. Think about the last book you finished. Think about all the chapters you’ve gone through. Was it necessary to read all the chapters to understand the concept described by the book? Or could you read the introduction, the table of contents, choose the most interesting parts of the book, only go through them and still get the idea? Or even more, could you read only the introduction of the chapters, their conclusions and just skim through the rest? How efficient would that be compared to what you actually did?
In this article, we will take a look at the 80/20 principle and how it can improve your efficiency in a very significant way.
The 80/20 principle, also known as the Pareto principle tells us that
“in any population, some things are likely to be much more important than others. The usual standard is that “80% of results or outputs flow from 20% of causes, and sometimes from a much smaller proportion.” (Koch)
A nice instance is Microsoft’s discovery that “80 percent of the errors and crashes in Windows and Office are caused by 20 percent of the entire pool of bugs detected, and that more than 50 percent of the headaches derive from a mere 1 percent of all flawed code” (Rooney). Thanks to Microsoft’s successful discovery, they could focus only on the 20%of causes to correct the huge 80% of the errors. Imagine how inefficient it would be for Microsoft to focus on all of the causes. There are probably only two ways that could end up. Either they’d figure out the 80/20 rule later on, or they would lose their competitiveness, which would lead to a loss of market share and a potential danger of crisis for their business.
However, the 80/20 principle is only a standardised form of the concept. The numbers do not matter. For example, the same idea is represented in the world’s distribution of wealth. According to Credit Suisse’s global wealth report in 20017, “the world’s 1% richest people have seen their share of the globe’s total wealth increase from 42.5% at the height of the 2008 financial crisis to 50.1%” (Neate). You can see that this is rather a 1/50 kind of scenario, but you get the idea. Did you have any issues understanding our explanation? Let us know in the reply section below!
Furthermore, this concept isn’t useful only for businesses or bigger bodies, which use it to identify the vital tasks of their functioning and focus on that.
You can use this in your personal lives as well!
The principle can help you so much with so many things. These range from choosing the 20% of people you spend time with that provide you with 80% of happiness to choosing the 20% of the exercises you do in the gym that give you 80% of the results you desire. The use of this rule is very, very broad. It is applicable to everything we do. It also links very well to the idea of Warren Buffet, who advises people to list the top 20 goals they have, choose the top 5 and ditch the others. This is, again, just another way of using the 80/20 rule. If you’re curious about more ways to keep your focus check out POST and if you want to know more about the thoughts of the amazing Warren Buffet, take a look at POST.
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Now, you might be wondering about how should you start this life-changing process of increasing your efficiency? We suggest you take it as any other new habit LINK you’re trying to implement. Start slow and simple. Begin with spending on 20% things that make you 80% happy, go on with reading only 20% of the book that actually interests you. Choose what suits you the best and go on with it.
It is always better to not jump straight into it but to start slowly and develop your habits over time.
Finally, I want to remind you of a very general, but life changing rule. If you don’t start now, you won’t get anywhere. This is where most people get these amazing concepts wrong. They read about it and they start planning that they will take action in a few days, or in a few hours. NO! You need to start now! If you don’t, there is a very high chance that you will not.
Lesson of the day:
- “Was it necessary to read all the chapters to understand the concept described by the book? Or could you read the introduction, the table of contents, choose the most interesting parts of the book, only go through them and still get the idea” – Please do use this strategy when you read books. Life’s too short to read every single word of all the interesting texts. Understand the idea, then move on.
- The 80/20 rule says that “80% of results or outputs flow from 20% of causes, and sometimes from a much smaller proportion” (Koch). Use this idea! Think about it!
- The 80/20 principle (Pareto principle) is a very useful tool that helps people managing their efficiency. It is used by many, if not all, successful businesses and governments. However, it is also very much useful in your personal life!
- Start simple and slow. It will take time, but it will be a life-changer once you get used to the habit.
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