Nowadays, we drown in too many to-do’s, too much information and too many obligations. Stress levels are higher than ever, more and more people get burned-out and overwhelmed – and many feel that they lack focus in their lives.
In other words, there is a real need for a strong antidote that helps people reclaim their focus, calm and clarity. And that’s what I’m going to talk about in this article. I’ll share exactly how I use the 80/20 rule (Pareto’s Principle) so that I can focus better on the important things in life, and no longer get overwhelmed or stressed out.
What Is The 80/20 Rule?
If you’ve never heard of Pareto’s Law (or also called the 80/20 Principle), you’re in for a treat here. Let’s look at something VERY interesting, almost magical.
Did you know that:
- About 80% of the crimes are committed by 20% of the criminals
- About 20% of patients use 80% of healthcare resources
- In sports, roughly 20% of the exercises and habits have 80% of the impact
- The richest 20% of the world’s population control 82.7% of the world’s income
- In business, roughly 20% of a company’s customers are responsible for 80% of the sales
- Also, 20% of the employees are responsible for 80% of the results.
- And, 80% of complaints come from 20% of the customers
- Microsoft noted that by fixing the top 20% of the most-reported bugs, 80% of the related errors and crashes in a given system would be eliminated
- In general, 80% of a certain piece of software can be written in 20% of the total allocated time.
Coincidence? Nope. It’s a strange principle discovered by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1906, who noted that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of the people. He became somewhat obsessed with this ratio, seeing it in everything.
Nowadays, it’s been proven that this principle holds true for many aspects of life – and it can benefit your focus, productivity and stress levels immensely if you use it to your advantage.
Let’s look at some common examples:
- Roughly 80% of sales come from 20% of the customers
- Roughly 80% of profits will come from 20% of the products
- Roughly 80% of sales will come from 20% of salespeople
- Roughly 20% of your friends will account to 80% of your positive emotions
- Roughly 20% of friends or acquaintances will account for 80% of your negative emotions
- Roughly 20% of life’s experiences account for 80% of your memories
- Roughly 20% of financial decisions lead to 80% of your current financial situations
- Roughly 20% of your investment decisions lead to 80% of your current investment results
Your ability to identify and focus on the top 20% of tasks will determine your quality of life and the results you’ll be getting. It’ll help you reclaim your focus, become more productive and be less stressed and overwhelmed.
Not in all cases the 80/20 Principle holds up, but you can spot a pattern everywhere that is somewhat similar. E.g. 70/30 or 65/35. In other words, the majority of the results are almost always caused by only a few actions and decisions. The key is to identify those few actions and decisions.
Identifying What’s Truly Important
Essentially, the 80/20 rule is all about identifying the things that are truly important to your life or business. Usually, there are only a few things that are essential to your happiness, business success, health or wealth. Although the rest can definitely be nice and still add some value to your life or business, it’s non-essential. It won’t move the needle that much – unlike those few things that are essential.
According to the 80/20 rule, only about 20% of your activities should be your priority. These activities will account for the majority of results (about 80%) in your life or business. They are essential to achieving your desired outcome. We should spend more of our time, effort and energy on these mission-critical activities.
This also means that about 80% of your activities account for only 20% of your results. In other words, they are non-essential. Yet, they take up the biggest portion of your time, effort and energy. You should resolve to spend less time, effort and energy on these activities.
We need to become very strict about using the 80/20 rule in our own life. This way, we can focus more on the things that are truly important to our lives, and spend less time, energy and effort on those things that are not that important after all. This way, we reclaim our focus, experience less stress and not get that easily overwhelmed anymore.
Neglecting The 80/20 Equals Destroying Your Focus & Mood
When you have too much to do and too little time for it all, you get overwhelmed and stressed. When overwhelm and stress kicks in, you will have so much mental clutter that it’ll be extremely hard to focus well on your priorities and tasks at hand. You’ll get distracted and you’ll give up much more easily since you’re fighting an uphill battle.
Identifying your priorities will help you focus better on those priorities. When you tell your brain that this is one of those mission-critical tasks, you’ll be able to fight distractions a lot better and you’ll be able to stick with your task for longer periods of time. By merely identifying that this task is a priority, you’ll start to approach it with more impact and intensity.
Now Do It
Apply the 80/20 rule in your own life and business. Ask yourself what the handful of activities, habits and people are that contribute to 80% of your results. And, on the other hand, identify the remaining 80% that only contribute to 20% of your results, but still take up lots of your time, energy and effort.
Resolve to spend more time on your essentials and less on your non-essentials. This way, you’ll reclaim your focus and happiness!
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab