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The Pareto Principle: How To Achieve More By Doing Less

In our previous article, we talked about using the Kaizen approach for personal growth. The approach helps us to break down our big goals into small actionable steps, identify areas for improvement and eliminate inefficiencies. What if you were having trouble choosing which goal/area needs to be worked upon? The fact is that we have do not have infinite time and resources. As such, we will have to choose very carefully which areas will be worth investing our time and resources. In that aspect, we can apply the Pareto Principle.

The 80/20 rule

Named after the Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, the Principle asserts that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions. Pareto came up with this theory - also known as the 80/20 rule - after realising that 80% of Italy's wealth is held by 20% of the people. He also believes that this principle is not just applicable for business and economics but in all areas of life.

For example, you probably wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time or spend 80% of your time in the same 20% of the places in your neighbourhood. In your work, it is likely that 80% of the output you produce comes from 20% of the tasks that you do. Consequently, the 80/20 rule helps us to identify which are the most important goals that we would need to accomplish in order to get the most success.

As such, the Pareto Principle is a useful tool for improving your time management skills. It is better to expend your time and energy on goals that will have the biggest pay-off, even if it is difficult to do so. In the same vein, you can apply the 80/20 rule to identify which areas where you are getting the least success. Following which, you can choose to look for ways to improve on them or stop investing resources on them.

Applying the Pareto Principle to your life

At the beginning of each day, write down a list of 10 tasks that you have to do. Ask yourself these 3 questions before you begin on them:

1. Which 2 tasks are the most important and will yield the most success?

2. What are the 2 challenges preventing me from accomplishing these tasks?

3. What steps can I take to overcome the challenges?

After you have answered these questions, you will understand what you need to do to focus your resources on making sure that the most important tasks are done properly. After that, you can either do the rest of the tasks or delegate them to others.

When it comes to your life goals, you can also ask the above questions to yourself to ascertain which important areas are worth putting in more time and effort. This will help you to build competence in your key areas. You will commit yourself to constant learning and always strive to improve on the skills that give you the most results.

Similarly, the Pareto Principle will help you identify which behaviours that are preventing most of your efforts from translating into results. What are your main challenges when it comes to reaching your goals? Everyone usually has a few. It can be having perfectionistic tendencies, being unable to find inspiration or getting distracted easily. Identifying your problem areas is the first step towards knowing what you need to do overcome them.

The Pareto Principle is a good way of focusing and concentrating your finite resources into a few important areas. While you do not have to rigidly stick to the approach, the 80/20 rule can help to clarify your goals whenever you feel like you are stuck in a rut.

The way to create something great is to create something simple. - Richard Koch


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