Maximize Your Productivity: 80/20 PARETO PRINCIPLE

The pioneer of the 80/20 principle was Vilfredo Pareto who discovered this principle in 1897. This principle holds true even after 120 years of its inception. People were astonished when they understood this principle because it is true and yet so simple.

The principle can be stated in a few words, “Our 80% of life-changing results are achieved by only our 20% of the actions which we perform. On the contrary, only 20% of results are achieved by doing 80% of low priority tasks.” It seems quite strange but it is very scientific and it is a proven principle. Suppose you have a list of 10 items that you need to complete throughout the day. But there will be surely two or three items that yield maximum value to you over a period of time. We always have a list of items in our to-do list but at times we do not give a proper thought as to which tasks will have the most impact on our career or business.

We are also tempted, at times, to pick up items that are easy to do because we get a false feeling of accomplishment when we complete that work. These tasks or actions have little or no impact on our careers. Let us take some examples of this. Suppose there is a person who wants to become a skilled guitarist in his life. The first thing he should do in the morning is to pick a guitar and play for a specific time because this will have the most impact on his career. But he is tempted to do different things like reading newspapers, surfing the internet and delaying his most important task for later in the day. And then many times out of guilt and fear of not sticking to his timetable, he misses his important training sessions. 

By only spending one hour of his time playing his guitar every day over a period of time he would have become successful guitarist but he spends 80% of his time doing things which will only produce around 20% of the value. But if according to Pareto, he spends 20% of his time allocated for playing guitar, it would have given him maximum value. This principle holds true everywhere, be it our personal life or in our professional career. The percentage may vary slightly from 80%-20% to 70%-30%.  

 Let us take few examples

  1. Only around 20% of highly used medicines produce 80% of the business of big pharmaceutical company. 
  2. 20% of creative and hard working employees produce 80% of quality work.
  3. 20% of the soccer players score 80% of goals in a season.
  4. 20% of the important chapters in our books result in 80% of the questions in your exams.

Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn.
Delmore Schwartz

The important people use this principle very intelligently, knowingly, or unknowingly. Let us take an example of a smart owner of a Tea Stall. The owner knows that almost all his revenue would be generated from people having tea from his shop. But he keeps things like fast food packets, sweets for kids or other sweeteners. But surprisingly he sells all these items by keeping the negligible profit. He knows that when people come to his tea stall to buy the food packets or sweeteners, they might also try his tea and would become his regular customers. He successfully makes people used to his product which would yield him 80-90% of his revenue.

The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.
Stephen R. Covey

Let us summarize important lessons which we learnt from this Pareto Principle

  1. 1. 20% of our tasks produce 80% of our value.
  2. 2. We need to identify these tasks and work on it at any cost.
  3. 3, Write down these tasks on paper and stick it on your cupboard or wall with bold letters.
  4. 4. Resist the temptation to do unimportant tasks because they are time wasters.

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