How to Be More Productive By Using The 80/20 Rule for Time Management

Do you struggle with time management and being productive? If so, you're not alone. Fortunately, there is a technique that can help you be more efficient with your time – the 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle.

What Is The 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 Rule is a popular concept in the world of productivity and time management. It is also known as the Pareto Principle, named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. He also noticed that this principle applies to many other aspects of life, such as business, economics, and personal productivity.

The 80/20 Rule states that 80% of the outcomes come from 20% of the causes or events. In other words, it is also popularly referred to as the “vital few and trivial many.” This means that a small number of inputs or factors have a significant impact on the results or outcomes.

The rule is often used by business people to identify problems as well as to determine which factor(s) are more important to handle things efficiently in terms of attention and resources. It helps businesses save money in terms of where to put their time, money, attention, and resources towards. By understanding the 80/20 Rule, businesses can make informed decisions that will lead to better outcomes and higher profits.

What Does It Mean?

The rule means that of the 100%, only 20% is the vital few that is making the most impact.

Note – It can work in both ways in terms of positive and negative results. After all, “most things in life are not distributed evenly.”

For instance, let’s say you own a business that sells 100 different products. This month, your business generated $500,000 in profit before deductions. If you take a deeper look into the numbers and transactions, you realize that approximately 80% of the $500,000 revenue comes primarily from the sales of 20% of the products you sell in your business.

This means that 20 types of products make up the $400,000 revenue being generated, while the remaining $100,000 were from the sales of the other 80 products.

Note – The 80/20 Rule is a general estimate and that there are scenarios where the ratio is a little bit skewed such as 60/40, etc.

Why Is This Useful To Know?

It can help businesses save money in terms of where to put their time, money, attention, and resources towards. One way is restocking on inventory and the quantity to order them in. Because we know those 20 products are generating most of the revenue, we would want to focus more on promoting those products and restocking on them more. That way, time is not wasted on products that aren’t doing much for the business financially.

Another example to greatly exaggerate this concept is designing a car. Let’s say the car has no engine, then that means the car won’t move. As we all know, the engine is like the heart of the car; without it, it can’t move. So that one piece could be represented as the “20%” of the components that makes up “80%” of the car’s functionality in terms of general simple design.

How Can It Help Me? What If I’m Not A Business Owner?

Let's face it, not everyone is a business owner, but you don’t need to be one in order to apply this technique. The great thing about the 80/20 Rule – Pareto Principle – is that it can be applied to how you make decisions to improve your productivity.

One way to do this is by thinking about what tasks you do everyday. How much of it is actually benefiting you? How much of it is actually helping you become a better person? Getting you closer to your goals? What tasks are taking up most of your time that is not helping you out in any way? What things are you doing that are preventing you from achieving your goals that you need to change or stop doing?

Once you have figured that out, you’ll realize that 20% of the causes are making up 80% of the time, or maybe in a worst case scenario the ratio values being reversed (hopefully that’s not you).

By applying the 80/20 Rule analysis towards your decision making and everyday life, it will help you better manage your time and hopefully help you be more successful in life. What does it mean to be successful will depend on what you consider being successful mean to you.


The 80/20 Rule, aka Pareto Principle, states that 80% of the outcome comes from 20% of the causes. It’s that small 20% that makes the biggest impact, which can be good or bad. Applying it where it’s best fit will potentially help you make better decisions and save you time. Do make a note that this rule is not the end all be all rule. There are better techniques out there that suit certain situations. Ultimately, don’t just “work smart”, but rather work smart on the right things that truly matter in your life.
Good luck on your goals!

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