Pareto Principle - 80/20 Rule in Time Management

14 Oct, 2022 | Read in 5 minutes

20% of your actions will lead to 80% of your desired results. Learn how to identify which tasks are the most important, and stop the time-wasting habits that keep you from being productive.


Are you looking for simple time management that will help you or your team keep productive and avoid burnout?

If so, you can try Pareto Principle which is often known as the 80/20 rule. Whether you're a freelancer, solopreneur, employee, or leader, Pareto Principle aims to measure the things you do in both your personal and professional life.

In this article, you'll grasp how the Pareto Principle works. Plus, you can use free task management software to prioritise your tasks more efficiently.

What is the Pareto Principle?

The Pareto Principle, which uses the name of the economist Vilfredo Pareto, recognises that just 20% of the people in his Italian homeland owned 80% of the country's property. Pareto found the same result after testing the theory in other nations: not distributed equally.

Following Pareto's discovery in the 1800s, management consultant Joseph M. Juran used the Pareto Principle in quality control and applied it to the current company. He said that 20% of the same recurring difficulties in a product account for 80% of its faults. For example, 20% of car parts are responsible for 80% of car breakdowns, while 20% of bugs are responsible for 80% of program crashes.

Although the Pareto principle is only a hypothesis based on observation, it does not apply in all cases. However, we can apply the basic principle to our lives in useful ways. Influencers use the 80/20 rule as a game-changing method for improving skills, especially those that relate to productivity and time management.

How does the Pareto Principle fit into time management?

The following rule states that 20% of your efforts will yield 80% of your results, according to Brian Tracy. For example, 80% of your profits will come from 20% of your clients. 20% of your services or products will generate 80% of your profit. In addition, 20% of your tasks will represent 80% of the value of what you perform, and so on.

If we want to apply this principle to time management, Tracy said that we have to list 10 items to do, and 2 of those items will be more crucial than the other 8 items.

It's important to keep in mind that just because something isn't included in the crucial 20% doesn't mean that it isn't important. Even though they can be lower on the priority list or require less attention to finish, the other 80% of our items are valuable when working on your action items.

We can delegate the tasks or outsource to focus on the 2 crucial tasks. Further, we can choose the things that will help us move forward, even if it means that we have to let go of other things.

Time management tips with the Pareto Principles

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Let's look at some time-management strategies to help you focus on the crucial tasks you determined using the Pareto principle:

1. Prioritising the time

We can create to-do lists. These lists typically include straightforward actions that might not be the most crucial things for you to do. Our to-do lists should instead reflect our priorities while also considering if the required work is worthwhile.

Start by prioritising your to-do list according to the amount of effort needed to get the most out of the Pareto Principle. It will help us to do time management. From 1 to 10, rank these items, with one taking the least amount of work.

The next step is to prioritise the task on our to-do list based on these results. Divide the potential results from the effort. Then we can prioritise the tasks to better manage our time and get better outcomes.

Finish the tasks that produce the best outcomes with the least amount of effort first. We can delay or eliminate tasks that need more effort but give less in outcomes.

2. Eliminate distractions

There are various potential distractions and interruptions, such as phone calls, app notifications, etc. With all of these interruptions and distractions, our productivity can end before we finish things. So, make an effort to eliminate as many distractions as possible.

Not only during the time we work but throughout our working day. Eliminating distractions can help us stay on track to managing our time. However, sometimes distractions come unexpectedly. In this case, we can use the Pareto Principle to eliminate distractions.

80% of our distractions come from 20% of our sources. So all we need to do is find that 20%. Put our phones on silent during work hours, if we're easily distracted by phone calls or social media notifications. This way, we can complete our high-impact tasks in much less time.

3. Begin with the important tasks

Brian Tracy also has a popular saying in time management namely Eat That Frog. No matter how challenging, the main concept of Eat That Frog is to begin the day with the most important tasks.

Our mental focus is often at its highest in the morning. Moreover, everything else in the day is simple to complete if you finish the hardest duty first thing in the morning. So it makes sense to block off some time early in the morning to work quietly during the most crucial period of the day.

4. Evaluate the goals

Another strategy we can do is evaluate the 20% of our work that will produce 80% of our results. The simple thing is we can ask some questions below:

  • Do I realise that all of my tasks and responsibilities are important?
  • Am I spending lots of time on some tasks?
  • Does this work help me achieve my goals?
  • Which tasks I can delegate to someone else who is more expert?

We should evaluate our goals as well after analysing our tasks. Focus on 20% of your activities that will assist you in achieving your goal.

Wrapping up

The Pareto Principle is a life hack that we can apply both at work and in our personal lives. Using it for time management can help us to be more productive and achieve our goals.

We can oppositely try the Pareto Principle. Decide which 20% of tasks, activities or even people are responsible for 80% of our results. Find some reasonable strategies to make our position better now.

More so, after knowing about the Pareto Principle in time management, try to track your time and productivity. Free task management software or project management tools can help you build this system strategy in managing time and projects.

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