## The 80/20 Rule

It appears the 80/20 rule is all the rage lately.  You’ve likely heard about it at some point e.g. 80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your customers.  Let’s walk through what it is and how to implement the rule in your life.

Background

The 80/20 rule is also known as the Pareto Principle.  In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country, observing that 20% of the country owned 80% of the wealth.

After Pareto, others made similar observations in their areas of expertise. Quality Management pioneer, Dr. Joseph Juran working in the US 1930s and 1940s recognized a universal principle he called the “vital few and trivial many.”

Essentially the few (20 percent) are vital and the many (80 percent) are trivial. Look at it this way: 80 percent of what you do in life isn’t important or critical to your future success.

Implementation

How can you apply the 80/20 rule to your life?  If 20 percent of your time yields the greatest 80 percent of your results, then what are you doing with 20 percent of your time?  Let’s break down a typical work day.

8 hour day (480 minutes):  20%= 96 minutes

10 hour day (600 minutes):  20% =  120 minutes

12 hour day (720 minutes):  20% = 144 minutes

If the 80/20 rule is accurate, then you only need to spend 1.5-2.5 hours a day on your most important tasks.  If you work long days (12 hours), 20 percent is just 12.5 hours a week! Ruthlessly focus on your top tasks for 12 hours a week, and you’re probably ahead of 95% of the population.

Let’s take this a step further.  Match this 1.5-2.5 hours a day with your most productive time of day. Are you a morning person, or do you get your second wind after lunch or in the evening? Do a self-evaluation and figure this out if you don’t know. Then synch up your 20 percent with your preferred working time for maximum effectiveness.

For example, if you are a morning person get to work an hour earlier or avoid checking your email first thing, which will side track you (more on this in another post).

But what is my 20%?

Let’s break this down into two buckets:   Bucket A (important) vs Bucket B (not important)

Bucket A

This will include anything that directly ties into revenue generation for your company and yourself. Tasks that will keep your boss happy and lead to a raise and continued development. If you don’t know, ask your boss what he or she thinks are your most important tasks are.  You might be surprised to find that you two aren’t on the same page.

Examples:

• Sales
• Marketing (product/service promotion)
• Legal Obligations
• Product / Service Development
• Learning new skills
• Customer feedback
• Thinking

Bucket B

Examples:

• Email
• Internet surfing
• Invoicing

In conclusion, to improve your productivity determine what 20 percent of your work day is, and match it with your most productive time of day (morning/afternoon/evening).  Finally, block off 20% of your day to focus only on the important stuff:  income generation for yourself and your company, personal development, etc.  Literally block off time in Outlook and label it 20%.

Try this for a week and let me know if you see any differences in your productivity.

-JM