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How to Become Super Productive Using the 80-20 Rule (The Pareto Principle)

If you are asked what is the best way to becoming more productive and successful, chances are you might reply that it is by working harder. Even if you would not respond that way, many people would. But it has been proven time and again that working harder is not necessarily an effective recipe for higher productivity or success. The answer often lies in working smart, which is what the 80-20 rule, or the Pareto Principle, seems to advocate. The aim here is to highlight how the application of this rule can make you become super productive.

What is the 80-20 Rule?

The main idea behind the 80-20 rule is that around 80 percent of effects come about as a result of 20 percent of causes. Put another way, 20 percent of causes lead to 80 percent of result. It is another way of saying tasks that take lesser of your time produces the most result, and vice versa. The concept was developed by Vilfredo Pareto, which explains why it is also called the Pareto Principle. The Italian was influenced into developing the principle after observing that 80 percent of the land in his country belonged to 20 percent of the population and that about 20 percent of the pea pods in his garden are responsible for 80 percent of the pea output.

Pareto 80-20 Productivity_Rule

Becoming Super Productive with the 80-20 Rule

From the 80-20 rule’s underlying idea, it then follows that you can actually become more productive by applying the principle. The secret to being successful here lies in identifying those all-important 20 percent tasks or activities that give the most result. This will require you sitting down to determine what tasks or projects require less of your time or effort, but bring more benefits than other tasks. For example, a business owner may discover that customers that complain the most and require more attention are not those that bring in most businesses. In such an instance, it is better to spend more time on better-paying clients and working on getting more of them.

There are some other things — aside identifying that essential 20 percent — you need do for the 80-20 rule to really make you super productive. Here are few of them:

Effective time management – Time is the main resource you may have available to ration. You need to know what you need to do with your time, the most important of which will be those tasks or project with most-beneficial outcomes. Time spent on non-essentials should be toned down. A to-do list and time-tracking device will help in this regard.

Organization – One of the reasons many people are not productive has to do with lack of organization. All items required for essential tasks need to be well-organized and at hand. This will eliminate unnecessary stress and time wasting involved in having to find them when needed.

Working in Batches – It is also important to consider performing certain operations at the same time. A good example is email checking. Rather than checking and replying emails as they come, you could dedicate specific period to handle all emails at once. To save more time, you may implement a filter to save less-important emails in specific folders.

The 80-20 rule may look theoretical. But you will be surprised at how super productive you become by applying the rule.

Updated: March 11, 2015 — 11:34 AM
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