Life hack

What is the 80 20 rule (and how to use it to boost productivity)

Instead of improving everything (ugh, so much effort!), try to improve the little things that have a big impact.

What is the 80 20 rule (and how to use it to boost productivity)

How many shoes do you have? 20% of your pairs will be worn 80% of the time. Want to work more efficiently? 20% of your time at work generates 80% of the value. Want more claps? 20% of your articles attract 80% of total claps.

My mind was blown when I first learned of the 80/20 law (aka the Pareto principle).

Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian genius who was an engineer, a sociologist, an economist, a political scientist, and a philosopher. While he was busy doing all these jobs, he managed to discover something interesting.

Income wasn’t distributed evenly. Instead of following the normal law of distribution, with a majority of people having an average income, it was heavily skewed towards the rich.

In fact, 20% of people held an entire 80% of total wealth.

What is remarkable with Pareto’s principle is how widely it applies to anything.

20% of your time at work accounts for 80% of your output.

For example, 20% of my training gives me 80% of the return. So this tells me I should focus on the 20% that is giving me a huge return. So that I could give it more time and effort.

The 80/20 law is everywhere. The more you look, the more you will find examples of it staring right back at you.

Which is pretty cool.

Because you can apply it to your work to be more productive.

“What is the 20% of your work that gets you 80% of the credit and recognition from your work?”

Work on identifying that 20% of your super productive time to make it even more productive.

I was doing my own research before writing this article. I looked at all my blog posts I published so far. Of the 300 blog posts, the ones who have the largest views and read-ratios are less than 20.

These 20 articles have a thousand views and more each, while the rest have 100and even less than that number.

When I looked at these articles, I was able to see which topics were getting me more views. Of the 20 articles, 18 of them were on self-improvement.

This tells me I should focus on articles related to self-improvement. My articles on communication have only a few views. This tells me I am not getting the result I need from writing about communication. I should abandon them.

The 80/20 principle can be applied to productivity at work.

What is the 80 20 rule (and how to use it to boost productivity)

If you are a writer on Medium, go over your last month’s stat. check which of your articles have the highest views and fans. See how many of them have brought you your monthly income.

I give you an example: let us say that you have earned $500 last month. I guarantee out of this amount, only a few articles have contributed to that amount.

So, you should print out those articles and see why they have given you 80% of your income. See how you have written them down. Observe if you have used your personal story. On what topics were you writing? Look at the writing style you have used.

Once you find these things, follow a similar pattern in every article you are going to write from now on.

Now, I am working on identifying that 20% of my super productive articles. To make even more productive articles.

Because by spending more time and effort on what is bringing us a huge result, we become more productive.

Strategy to increase production:

·Find out your 20%. What activity or task from your day is bringing you more results? Which types of articles are giving you more claps?

·Spend 80% of your time and effort with the above 20%.

Join my readers for similar content: Banchi Inspirations

This story is published in Hopes & Dreams, a large — and still growing publication that’s home to a wide variety of writers and an array of styles, voices and opinion.

How to use less energy – and get more results

What is the 80 20 rule (and how to use it to boost productivity)

One saying that is true comes from Tony Robbins himself, and that is, “Whatever you consistently think about and focus upon you move toward.” No one wants to spend their life being pulled in a hundred directions at once, feeling like they never have any time . And when you leverage the 80-20 rule , you don’t have to.

What is the 80 20 rule (and how to use it to boost productivity)

What is the 80-20 rule?

The 80-20 rule is the principle that 20% of what you do results in 80% of your outcomes. Put another way, 80% of your outcomes result from just 20% of your inputs. Also known as the Pareto principle , the 80-20 rule is a timeless maxim that’s all about focus. Because so much of your output is determined by a relatively small amount of what you do each day, focusing on the most productive tasks will result in greater output.

The Pareto principle comes from the mind of Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who first introduced it in 1906. But it is Joseph Juran, a business theorist, who is credited with popularizing the idea and relating it to business situations during the 1940s. This is why the 80-20 rule is usually used in business, but you can also apply it to your personal goals, like finances and spending or even learning a new skill.

The 80-20 rule requires you to throw out a few time-honored myths about productivity. First, the myth that everything matters equally – it doesn’t. Break down that wall and prioritize. Second, the myth of multitasking : When you try to focus on everything at once, you end up not truly focusing on anything at all.

What is the 80 20 rule (and how to use it to boost productivity)

The 80-20 rule: It’s all about focus

Time is the currency of achievement – but some people seem to cash in their time for more achievement than others. Why is it that they’re able to do more with their time than the rest of us?

Tony says, “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.” The 80-20 rule is one way of explaining – and overcoming – this very common problem. When you understand the answer to the question “ What is the 80 20 rule ?,” you’ll understand that high achievers don’t have fewer obligations, more help from others or better luck. They have more focus .

Gary Keller, founder of real estate giant Keller Williams, literally wrote the book on the Pareto principle . The ONE Thing is all about how to stop the thieves that steal your time and keep you from achieving your dreams. “The moon is reachable if you prioritize everything and put all of your energy into accomplishing the most important thing,” Keller says. But, “Extraordinary success is sequential, not simultaneous.”

How to use the 80-20 rule

You can’t use the 80-20 rule to your advantage unless you know what it is you want to focus on. How do you cut out all the background noise and zero in on that 20% that’s going to make an extraordinary difference in your life? Follow this equation: Purpose + Priority = Productivity.

Start with your purpose

Your purpose is the foundation of everything in your life or in your business. Every time you make a decision or a change, ask yourself, “Does this serve my purpose?” If you don’t know your purpose, you can’t create goals or take action. It’s that important.

Your purpose could be something like having more time with your family , the freedom to live life on your terms or the money to travel the world. In business, your purpose is your company vision . It’s the reason you started the business in the first place. It’s the difference you wanted to make in the world. When you apply the 80-20 rule the right way, you start off thinking big – but not for long.

Narrow down your priorities

Now it’s time to get more specific: What’s holding you back from living your purpose, whether in life or in business? Maybe you need to finally take the leap and start your own business . Maybe you need to save money for that down payment on a home. As a business leader, you may need to find or create new efficiencies or improve your processes.

Write down five things you could start doing today to help you build the extraordinary life you want – one in which you get to live your purpose every day. Then prioritize them by how fast they will get you to your goal. The top item – the most meaningful – is your first priority.

Create action items

You’re not done yet. Priorities are nice, but they’re not enough to get you over the finish line. You need to create SMART goals : steps you can take that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and anchored within a Time Frame. Then you need to hold yourself accountable to them. These specific action items are the real 20% of the 80-20 rule – the things you’ll spend 20% of your time doing that will yield the best results.

One example of this is the “Dream 100,” a concept from marketer, consultant and sales powerhouse, Chet Holmes. Create a list of the top 100 people you want to work with or gain as clients and rank them by level of importance. Then start targeting them – and don’t stop. Put all of your focus on those 100 people. It will be worth it when you start bringing them in.

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

The 80/20 rule is a prediction model applied in a variety of business settings to determine factors that affect success and improvement. It can help you optimize your workplace productivity by guiding your analysis of tasks, time allocation and responsibility delegation. In this article, we show how the 80/20 mindset can help you identify strategies and opportunities that benefit your career.

What is the 80/20 rule?

The 80/20 rule is a statistical principle that states 80% of results often come from approximately 20% of causes. In 1895, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto published his findings on wealth distribution after he discovered that 20% of Italy’s citizens owned 80% of the country’s wealth. Since Pareto’s findings, other scholars have applied his 80/20 rule of cause and effect—also known as the Pareto principle—to a variety of situations outside of wealth distribution, including business principles and professional development. For example, in business, it is often said that 80% of sales result from 20% of clients.

While 80/20 is the most commonly found ratio, the Pareto principle may also exist in other similar ratios, such as 70/30, 75/25 or 85/15. These values all show that a low percentage of causes affect or create a high percentage of results.

The 80/20 rule can help you identify where the majority of your time, money or energy is best spent. Using the 80/20 rule, you can determine achievable goals and outline specific tasks to reach them and stay focused on what makes the most impact. Here are just a few benefits the 80/20 rule provides:

Improved time management

By identifying tasks that yield the most results, you can organize your day to focus on tasks that have the most significant impact on your work.

More effective leadership

If you want to improve your leadership skills, you can use the 80/20 rule to make time for socializing with your team, serving as a mentor and seeking other opportunities to build trust and team unity.

Better use of company resources

The 80/20 rule can help you better utilize your company’s time and efforts to research competitors or industry trends, streamline hiring procedures and improve company culture.

Examples of the 80/20 rule

There are many ways to put the 80/20 rule into practice in your workplace. The following examples demonstrate how to use the 80/20 to analyze success and improvement factors and maximize efforts to achieve results.

Business management

Applying the 80/20 rule to business matters has several advantages, especially in how you can streamline the company’s business model to invest in the people, products and systems that offer the biggest returns.

For example: Ben is the owner of a small business that has gained popularity over the past year. To optimize his restaurant hours, Ben uses the 80/20 rule to discover that nearly 15% of the restaurant’s hours yield 85% of revenue. This 15% indicates that his peak hours are between 7 and 9 p.m. Ben decides to extend his dinner service by one hour to potentially increase revenue during peak hours.

Career development

In your career, you can apply the 80/20 rule to streamline your job search, seek out the most impactful opportunities and build a strong professional network.

For example: Tanya is a marketing professional re-entering the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom for four years. She wants to find a position that combines her skills in market analysis and personal interest in organic baby products. Tanya applies the 80/20 rule to her job search to use 80% of her time searching for and applying to market research jobs for infant wellness companies and 20% of her time applying to other marketing positions in other industries.

With this method, Tanya streamlines her job search tasks that relate directly to her intended career path while still keeping her options open to other jobs that might lead to opportunities.


You can use the 80/20 rule to determine which tasks yield the most significant impact and optimize your productivity for the most results. Use the Pareto principle to schedule your time, complete important tasks, set realistic deadlines and improve your focus.

For example: Jolene works from home as a medical coder. Although she has the ability to set her own hours, she finds herself working late to reach deadlines. Jolene uses the 80/20 rule to identify which 25% of her daily tasks make up 75% of her week’s work. She dedicates 75% of each day to the most impactful tasks, improving her time management and ability to reach critical deadlines.

Customer relations

Applying the Pareto Principle to customer relations can help you identify how to best interact with clients and understand how they affect business.

For example: Abby is a hairstylist looking to expand her clientele. She uses the 80/20 rule to discover that 80% of her new clients were referrals from 20% of her existing clients. Abby utilizes this word-of-mouth advertising strategy and offers discounts to clients who refer people to book appointments with her. This plan can help her increase revenue, improve relationships with clients and focus her time on learning new styling techniques.

You can use the 80/20 rule to more effectively structure your time and effort, increasing your personal productivity or enhancing your business strategy. This principle can help you improve your organization and time management skills, which can make you a strong candidate for a new position and a valuable employee in the workplace. Consider using the 80/20 rule to identify areas you can optimize as you progress in your career.

What Is the 80-20 Rule?

The 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is an aphorism which asserts that 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event. In business, a goal of the 80-20 rule is to identify inputs that are potentially the most productive and make them the priority. For instance, once managers identify factors that are critical to their company’s success, they should give those factors the most focus.

Although the 80-20 axiom is frequently used in business and economics, you can apply the concept to any field—such as wealth distribution, personal finance, spending habits, and even infidelity in personal relationships.

The Pareto Principle (80-20 Rule)

Key Takeaways

  • The 80-20 rule maintains that 80% of outcomes (outputs) come from 20% of causes (inputs).
  • In the 80-20 rule, you prioritize the 20% of factors that will produce the best results.
  • A principle of the 80-20 rule is to identify an entity’s best assets and use them efficiently to create maximum value.
  • This “rule” is a precept, not a hard-and-fast mathematical law.

Understanding the 80-20 Rule

You may think of the 80-20 rule as simple cause and effect: 80% of outcomes (outputs) come from 20% of causes (inputs). The rule is often used to point out that 80% of a company’s revenue is generated by 20% of its customers. Viewed in this way, then it might be advantageous for a company to focus on the 20% of clients that are responsible for 80% of revenues and market specifically to them—to help retain those clients, and acquire new clients with similar characteristics.

Core Principle

At its core, the 80-20 rule is about identifying an entity’s best assets and using them efficiently to create maximum value. For example, a student should try to identify which parts of a textbook will create the most benefit for an upcoming exam and focus on those first. This does not imply, however, that the student should ignore the other parts of the textbook.

Often Misinterpreted

The 80-20 rule is a precept, not a hard-and-fast mathematical law. In the rule, it is a coincidence that 80% and 20% equal 100%. Inputs and outputs simply represent different units, so the percentage of inputs and outputs does not need to equal 100%.

The 80-20 rule is misinterpreted often. Sometimes the misunderstanding is the result of a logical fallacy—namely, that if 20% of inputs are most important, then the other 80% must not be important. At other times, the confusion stems from the coincidental 100% sum.

Business managers from all industries use the 80-20 rule to help narrow their focus and identify those issues that cause the most problems in their departments and organizations.

80-20 Rule Background

The 80-20 rule—also known as the Pareto principle and applied in Pareto analysis—was first used in macroeconomics to describe the distribution of wealth in Italy in the early 20th century. It was introduced in 1906 by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, best known for the concepts of Pareto efficiency.

Pareto noticed that 20% of the pea pods in his garden were responsible for 80% of the peas. Pareto expanded this principle to macroeconomics by showing that 80% of the wealth in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

In the 1940s, Dr. Joseph Juran, prominent in the field of operations management, applied the 80-20 rule to quality control for business production. He demonstrated that 80% of product defects were caused by 20% of the problems in production methods. By focusing on and reducing the 20% of production problems, a business could increase its overall quality. Juran coined this phenomenon “the vital few and the trivial many.”

Benefits of the 80-20 Rule

Although there is little scientific analysis that either proves or disproves the 80-20 rule’s validity, there is much anecdotal evidence that supports the rule as being essentially valid, if not numerically accurate.

Performance results of salespeople in a wide range of businesses have demonstrated success by incorporating the 80-20 rule. In addition, external consultants who use Six Sigma and other management strategies have incorporated the 80-20 principle in their practices with good results.

Real-World Example of the 80-20 Rule

A Harvard graduate student, Carla, was working on an assignment for her digital communications class. The project was to create a blog and monitor its success during the course of a semester. Carla designed, created, and launched the site. Midway through the term, the professor conducted an evaluation of the blogs. Carla’s blog, though it had achieved some visibility, generated the least amount of traffic compared with her classmates’ blogs.

When to Apply the 80-20 Rule

Carla happened upon an article about the 80-20 rule. Because it said that you can use this concept in any field, Carla began to think about how she might apply the 80-20 rule to her blog project. She thought: I spent a great deal of my time, technical ability, and writing expertise to build this blog. Yet for all of this expended energy, I am getting very little traffic to the site.

She knew that even if a piece of content is spectacular, it is worth virtually nothing if no one reads it. Carla deduced that perhaps her marketing of the blog was a greater problem than the blog itself.


To apply the 80-20 rule, Carla decided to assign her “80%” to all that went into creating the blog, including its content; and as her “20%,” she designated the blog’s visitors.

Using web analytics, Carla focused closely on the blog’s traffic. She asked:

  • Which sources comprise the top 20% of traffic to my blog?
  • Who are the top 20% of my audience that I wish to reach?
  • What are the characteristics of this audience as a group?
  • Can I afford to invest more money and effort into satisfying my top-20% readers?
  • In terms of content, which blog posts constitute the top 20% of my best-performing topics?
  • Can I improve upon those topics, and get even more traction from my content than I’m getting now?

Carla analyzed these questions and edited her blog accordingly:

  1. She adjusted the blog’s design and persona to align with those of her top-20% target audience, a strategy common in micromarketing.
  2. She rewrote some content to meet her target reader’s needs more fully.

Although her analysis did confirm that the blog’s biggest problem was its marketing, Carla did not ignore its content. She remembered the common fallacy cited in the article—if 20% of inputs are most important, then the other 80% must be unimportant—and did not want to make that mistake.


By applying the 80-20 rule to her blog project, Carla understood her audience better and targeted her top-20% of readers more purposefully. She reworked the blog’s structure and content based on what she learned, and traffic to her site rose by more than 220%.

The 80/20 rule, also called the Pareto principle or the law of the vital few, states that approximately 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Or put another way, 20% of your efforts produce 80% of your results. As a small business owner or manager, it’s important for you to understand how the 80/20 principle works and how it affects your employees, customers, products, and sales.

How the 80/20 Rule Applies to Your Business

Identifying and and optimizing various 80/20 situations helps your business’ bottom line by boosting its productivity and efficiency. So how can you apply the Pareto principle to your business?


One invaluable 80/20 rule application is in your marketing efforts. Put simply, you first analyze your marketing channels to determine where the bulk of your results come from. Then, you focus on these channels to drive results. For example, when you analyze your marketing tools, you realize that social media provides about 80% of your customer stream. As such, you focus your marketing funds on social media, at the expense of print marketing campaigns.


As an entrepreneur, you may find your marketing initiative increases the number of buyers and boosts your overall sales. But even then, your profits may remain flat or even decline. It could be that 20% or so of your customers generate the bulk of your revenue and profits. It’s important for you to know where your profit originates. When looking for insights into your particular profit situation, you may have to apply the Pareto principle and focus on a select few customers.

Employee Satisfaction

If you have employees, you need a deep understanding of how your organization works. This helps you figure out what motivates your employees and gives them the most satisfaction. The Pareto principle may help you determine the tools that influence your workers’ satisfaction levels. Perhaps ask yourself what you can do to increase employee satisfaction and keep employees on task. Myriad ways exist to boost employee happiness, including boosting employee engagement, providing a positive work environment, and rewarding and/or recognizing worker contributions. Out of all these factors, you may find that providing a positive work place drives 80% of your employees’ job satisfaction.

Sales Force

You may look at your sales force and realize only 20% of your sales team brings the majority of your business. It might be useful to recognize the difference in performance and give the best performing staff the high-productivity tools they need to maximize performance. But what should you do with remaining staff? You might consider holding meetings to discover what how to increase the productivity of the 80% of your staff that falls behind. You may also provide training for those workers or pair them the best performing sales staff.

The 80/20 Rule and Your Customers

The 80/20 guide can help you come up with effective business solutions for your company, including focusing your resources and attention on customers in your top 20% and improving your time management performance. Some of these solutions include:

  • Identifying your best customers: It helps to keep close tabs on your client list to determine who spends the most, buys in bulk, and has made recent purchases.
  • Noticing your customer niches: Some customers love certain products or exhibit specific shopping behaviour. With the 80/20 rule, you can easily tell the select 20% of your products that 80% of your customers like.
  • Delighting your best customers: Remember to keep your best clients in sight when you seek out new clients. The Pareto principle shows you your high-volume and consistent buyers, so offer those customers discounts and interact with them on a personal level to keep them content.

The Bottom Line

In business, 80% of the profits may come from 20% of the products, or 80% of revenues may come from 20% of the clients. When you do an 80/20 analysis on your revenues, you can identify time-wasting products or clients and take appropriate actions. Used in this fashion, the Pareto principle helps you achieve more in your business with less effort.

Are you a small business owner looking to improve your company’s time management processes and productivity or looking for payroll tools to help you with employee paycheques? If so, the QuickBooks Self-Employed app helps freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors track and manage their business on the go. Download the app now.

Lidia Staron Content Marketing Executive, Full Bio

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Lidia Staron is a part of Content and Marketing team at She contributes articles about the role of finance in the strategic planning and decision-making process. You can find really professional insights in her writings

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What is the 80 20 rule (and how to use it to boost productivity)

Lidia Staron , Content Marketing Executive at , says, The little things are what account for the biggest results. This is the concept behind the Pareto Principle – the law of the vital few – which states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes .

Initially, this concept was used only to refer to the distribution of wealth among people. But experts suggest that this can be applied to many other things, including organizations.

Human Capital Management (HCM) Suites for High-growth Enterprises: The Ultimate Guide [Buyers Guide]

Your HCM System controls the trinity of talent acquisition, management and optimization – and ultimately, multiple mission-critical performance outcomes. Choosing the right solution for your organization.

How does the same principle apply to your workplace and how do you use it to boost the growth of your organization?

Identifying Productive & Mediocre Performance

A big factor that affects the success of any business is its employees. How devoted, skilled, and knowledgeable they are commensurate to how fast a company achieves its goals and see results. In the workplace, the Pareto principle means that 80% of the responsibility and work are shouldered by only 20% of your employees.

Meaning, most of the work and effort are from the minority of your staff. They are the floor leaders, managers and other key thinkers in your organization. But sometimes, it’s difficult to identify who these 20% of the hardworking staff really are. For instance, it could be that in one department, the head is not functioning properly, leaving all the decision-making and other responsibilities to his or her secretary. It happens, in many situations.

Another way to interpret the 80/20 rule when it comes to employee management is this: most of the problems in your organization are caused by a small number of employees. They simply don’t work, work poorly, and commit many mistakes, leading to wasted time, energy and resources.

Ways to Apply 80/20 Rule to Your Employees

Encouraging growth, involvement, and engagement is one of the major benefits of applying the 80/20 rule. Below are the different ways in which the Pareto rule can be used to drive performance and results from your team.

80% of decisions should come from your employees.

The best thing about the 80/20 rule is that it forces leaders and managers to guide, coach and empower their team members. Many managers commit the mistake of being overly directive. Big tech companies such as Google and Intel, use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) as a way to instill a sense of responsibility and accountability among their employees. Each person creates their own set of goals and identifies the key steps needed to achieve those. This gives the employee an opportunity to share ideas, think deeper, and participate in many company initiatives. As the leader or manager, you should shoulder not more than 20% of the decision-making.

Spend 80% of the time listening to them.

The primary role of a leader or manager is to guide his staff, not to take on their work. Thus, 80% of the time should be spent on listening to them and guide them, not just tell them what to do. Ideally, after expectations have been set and the employees have received the right amount of coaching and feedback, it’s time for the lead to listen about the path taken by the employee and their progress.

Rethink the performance management process.

One of the biggest trends in human resource management is rethinking the performance management process. It is important to deal with hyper performers differently. Otherwise, it would make them feel undervalued. For example, if you recognize and reward your top performers in the same way you do with your average performers, they will leave, and your average workers will stay. Nor should you focus too much on your low-performers. Spending so much time strengthening the weakest link lead to the same result. On the other hand, providing greater rewards and benefits to top-performers, in different forms, such as improved healthcare and wellness programs, low-interest cash advance online loans, retirement plans, and more, are likely to strengthen your top performers (extra perks and privileges to the best employees make more sense) and motivate average employees to do better.

Let employees focus on the 20% most important tasks.

In any company, daily operations are bombarded with so many little, less significant tasks, such as answering phone calls, making reports, reading memos, etc. However, spending most of their efforts in the most important tasks can help employees accomplish more. It is important for managers to give feedback early and pivot early to ensure that their staff are on track with their weekly or quarterly goals. Thus, instead of completing just the requirements of a project, employees can focus on doing it in the best way it can be.

The 80/20 rule is one of the proven people management concepts that seem even more relevant these days. You might probably be practicing it already in your team, but you’re unaware of it until now. There are many different ways in which you can apply this rule in managing your employees and getting stuff done quicker and better

Learn how to write more words daily.

What is the 80 20 rule (and how to use it to boost productivity)

One of the most troubling obstacles writers face is trying to publish a consistent number of pieces that perform well.

It can be hard to sit down and dedicate yourself to churning out a certain number of articles that suddenly flop.

A strategy I’ve found to be extremely helpful in motivating me to continue to write every day in the same niches is the 80/20 rule established by Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto.

What is Pareto’s 80/20 Rule?

A philosopher and economist, Pareto discovered that 80% of the healthy pea pods in his garden came from only 20% of his pea plants.

He applied this concept to different industries and found that typically, 80% of production and goods came from just 20% of sources.

In other words: 80% of results come from 20% of actions.

Things in life are not evenly distributed. A majority of results come from a minority of actions in our daily lives.

Some common examples, as well as some from my own life:

  • 20% of posts generate 80% of traffic
  • 20% of my clothes make up 80% of my weekly wardrobe ( don’t lie, we’re all guilty of this one)
  • Microsoft reported the same 20% of bugs to cause 80% of software crashes

Only 20% of your actions will create 80% of the results you see.

How Can We Use Pareto’s Rule in Writing?

There are a few ways the 80/20 rule is applicable to your writing.

Writing consistently each day is great, but you have to focus your writing on the 20% of stories that produce 80% of your income.

Those stories may be about writing, poems, business, or anything else. You have to look back at your stats for a whole month and see which type of stories performed best.

We’re limited by how much we can write so we have to prioritize the niches that drive the most traffic to our work.

Understand which articles are the most important and publish more of those stories.

I promise you’ll start to see a trend.

If you wrote 10 stories in one month, it’s likely that 2 of them will have made up 80% of your monthly profits. Your remaining profits will be comprised of pennies from other stories that accumulated profit over time.

By identifying those 2 highest-earning stories, you can see which type of stories resonate with your readers the most.

That being said, increasing the number of stories will also increase the number of pieces that have a direct impact on your profits.

If you write 20 stories, 4 will contribute most of your profit. If you write 30, 6 will contribute to most of your profit. So on and so forth.

Pareto’s rule is really a case for why you should write as many stories as possible in your niche in one month.

Another way I use this strategy with my Medium writing is by choosing which stories I need to work on first. 20% of my writing time per month is spent working on stories that I pitch to Medium partnered publications.

If those stories are accepted, I’m paid a flat fee that makes up about 80% of my monthly income.

The rest of my time is then spent working on shorter stories that are directly through the Medium Partner Program. I prioritize the stories being pitched to major publications because I know they’re worth more in the end.

To be fair, there is a risk with this strategy because any of those publications could deny the story. The important thing is that you identify which stories of yours are the highest earners and why.

This will allow you to prioritize them and produce more profit in the long run.

Sometimes it’s not about increasing our word count or even the amount of articles we publish monthly. Sometimes simply focusing our attention on the 20% of writing that drives our profits is all we need to do to maximize those profits.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t just focus on that 20% of work. If I only focused on writing pieces to be pitched to Medium Partnered Publications and they all flop, I would make $0.

By working on the other 80% of my work, I still produce 20% of my profits. While this isn’t always a lot, it’s something. Remember, something is better than nothing.

So when it comes to your writing productivity, go through your statistics. Find the 20% of stories that produced the best results and write more on that topic.

If that 20 % resulted from working on pieces for major publications, then focus more on those.

Work smarter, not harder. You’ll see a drastic increase in your writing productivity as well as profits.

Productivity can be a major challenge when you’re in business for yourself. This can be especially difficult for people making the transition from employee to entrepreneur. Unlike a job, business owners must set their own schedules and manage their own time. Entrepreneurs often feel as though the day isn’t long enough to fit in everything that needs to be done. In my own time as an entrepreneur, here are three key things I’ve found that can help any entrepreneur become more productive.

1. Identify Your Ideal Work Environment

When you have a job, you go to work at the office or wherever the job is located. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, have more flexibility in this area. You can work from home, rent an office or even work from your laptop in a cafe. Or, if there’s an ocean nearby, at the beach. Yet, if you don’t find the right environment for you, it will be hard to be productive.

Working at home is great for some people, but for others it presents too many distractions. Likewise, some people find that traditional offices stifle creativity. On the other hand, you might find that an office helps you focus. Working from your laptop at your neighborhood cafe, which has become a cliche for living the “Internet lifestyle,” is another option that may or may not be right for you. It’s perfect for some, but others find crowded public spaces too distracting.

You may even be an entrepreneur that thrives on variety. In this case, you might vary your work locations from day to day. Others are just the opposite and need a stable workplace to feel centered and productive. It’s important that you figure out which category you fit into so you can find the work environment that brings out the best in you.

2. Be Aware of the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle, known also as the 80-20 rule, roughly states that 20% of your efforts product 80% of your results. While it would be hard to prove whether or not this exact number is correct, the general principle is valid in most cases. The point is that a few actions generate a majority of results, and to identify which actions reap these greatest rewards. To understand how the Pareto Principle works, try to identify areas of your business where it might be relevant. For example:

  • 20% of your products might account for 80% of your sales

Keep in mind that this principle applies to undesirable events as well as positive ones. For example, 80% of your refund requests might come from 20% of your products.

This concept can help you identify both productive and unproductive aspects of your business. When it comes to negative events, you can sometimes simply get rid of the problem (such as the 20% of products that people are returning). On the other hand, you obviously want to devote more resources to the areas that create the best results.

3. Reduce Distractions

Distractions can never be entirely eliminated, as they are simply part of life. However, entrepreneurs need to be aware of how to avoid distractions that cut into their productivity. For many people, the Internet is one of the biggest distractions of all.

Only check email, Facebook and other social media accounts at certain times during the day. Avoid the temptation to do this every few minutes. There are now many apps designed to help you block distractions. One of the most popular is called Freedom, and it’s available for Windows, Mac and Android. You tell the app how long you want to focus and for this duration you’ll be blocked from surfing the web.

The phone can be another distraction. While some calls are obviously necessary for business, if you are constantly making and answering the phone, it can be difficult to concentrate on a task. For periods of time when you have to work solo on a project, you can always turn off your phone. Try to schedule business calls the same way you would in-person meetings, so you aren’t disturbed at random times.

Staying productive is essential for anyone who wants to build a successful business. There are many strategies that can help you become more efficient and better manage your time. In addition to the above three tips, try to identify any particular obstacles that tend to make you less productive. Then see if you can devise a strategy to overcome this obstacle and take your productivity to the next level.

Yan Revzin is the Co-Founder of Fortune Cookie Advertising, a non-traditional and experiential marketing company selling advertising space within fortune cookies at Chinese restaurants throughout the United States.

COVID-19 and UBC’s response

What is the 80 20 rule (and how to use it to boost productivity)

The 80-20 rule states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Sleep, eat, school, homework, volunteer; rinse and repeat. In my early years at university, I was under the impression that any time not spent on work was me being lazy and not trying hard enough. In reality, this was counter-productive and a terrible mindset: studying too much made me hate school for everything I had to give up to be good at it. Doing something that you hate for extended periods of time tends to result in you hating it even more. For me, that made my studying even less productive which forced me to spend more time doing it. As soon as I realized that I was spinning my wheels in this vicious cycle, I knew I had to change the way I was approaching things.

In this post, I’m going to be discussing one of the time management tactics I implemented this past year that helped me cut down my studying time to less than 1/2 of what it used to be while improving my grades at the same time. The one rule that I implemented that has had the biggest impact on my study habits is Pareto’s Principle, also known as the 80-20 rule. Put simply, the 80-20 rule states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Sometimes this is even more extreme – sometimes close to 99% of the effects come from less than 5% of the results. This is true in both social and scientific contexts. Some cool examples:

20% of seeds planted result in 80% of the flowers

20% of the world has

80% of the wealth

20% of occupational safety hazards lead to

80% of the injuries
You wear

20% of your clothes

***These numbers do not need to add to 100. This rule is to show you the skewedness of cause and effect.

So, how does this apply to academics? Simply put, 20% or less of the studying you are doing is leading to the majority of your results. Furthermore, 20% or less of your course content comprises the majority of the content on your exams. Remember, professors (whether they know it or not) are applying the 80-20 rule to their exams. Due to time constraints, they need to test your knowledge on their course on only a few pieces of paper. Without a doubt, they are going to do their best by testing the most important ideas of the course which tends to be about 20% of the material they teach.

The key here is to be using the tactics that are leading to the majority of your results all while studying the core content that is going to be on the exam. While this sounds amazing in theory, how do you actually apply it? How can you learn to recognize which study tactics are working for you and which parts of your courses are the most important? With regards to understanding which study tactics are working for, you are going to have to do a little bit of self-experimentation.

Try out a couple different methods and then evaluate how helpful you found each one. You may find that for each course you are using different strategies – this is completely normal as the nature of learning something like math is very different than that of learning biology. Going into depth about different study tactics is outside the scope of this blog post, but by strategies I am referring to things such as how much pre-reading you’re doing, how many practise questions you’re attempting, where you study, if you study in groups versus being alone, etc. Onto the second matter – how do you figure out what 20% of the course content is the most important?

Here are a couple tips that I use:

  • In almost all my classes, only content discussed in class is on the exam. If it is not talked about in class, you probably do not need to spend copious amounts of time studying it.
  • Note down how long a professor spends talking about a topic – if they talk about it in-depth and for a fair amount of time in class, it is probably something you are going to want to remember for the exam.
  • When a professor says this is the type of question you’ll see on the exam, take note of it! They often aren’t kidding. In a class with hundreds of diagrams in it, I was able to ascertain exactly which three were going to be tested on the final simply by looking at my notes and seeing when my professor said “possible test question.”
  • Do not memorize, UNDERSTAND! The only way this rule is going to work is if you seek to understand the material rather than simply memorize it. If you can understand the core idea of the material, you can often-times derive the rest of it with the little bit that you do know. This applies not only in math but in biology. For example, the amount of material in BIOL 112 may seem daunting but if you seek to understand the logic behind many of the mechanisms that work, deriving a procedure from just knowing what happens at the beginning of the process becomes a lot easier.

Please note that I am not asking you to simply ignore 80% of your course content – that would be silly. Do still read the material, but make sure you are spending the majority of your time on the key ideas that matter! Learning how to think things through is a much better use of your time than memorizing everything. I cannot stress this enough: memorizing everything takes a lot of time whereas understanding everything will allow you to apply your knowledge to questions displaying things you may have never seen before.

Before I end this blog post, I have to mention one more thing. The hardest thing to do that I listed here is eliminating things. It seems inconceivable that by doing less you can learn more, like one of those ridiculous promises on infomercials. Most people I tell this to are fascinated by what I’m saying, but refuse to apply it as they are afraid of what might happen if they eliminate some of the incorrect things. While I certainly messed up a few times at first when trying to apply the 80-20 rule, I can definitely say that the long-term benefits of learning how to apply it properly in my life FAR outweigh the short-term struggles. I now have the time to do the things I enjoy and my grades have improved; not learning the rule would have cost me that.

Need help with some of the things I mentioned in this post? Want to learn some new study tactics? Need some help in figuring out what’s working for you and what isn’t? Perhaps you would like some assistance in figuring out what parts of your courses are more important than others? Meet with a Science Peer Academic Coach at the Tutoring and Coaching Pavilion on weekdays.

Jason Dhami, the author of this blog post, was an UBC undergraduate student integrating Parthenogenesis and Host Anatomy, as well as a SPAC coach. During his time working as a Systems Analyst at McDonald Realty and as the Program Manager of the Learning Buddies Network, he became interested in increasing his productivity at work. In this quest for knowledge on this topic, he learned about many of the principles presented in this article and adapted them to academics to free up his time to do the non-academic things he loves.