Focus on something, use less energy and make it happen. That’s the 80/20 rule

April 02, 2024 by Natalie Brewer
Focus on something, use less energy and make it happen. That’s the 80/20 rule

Most of us have heard of the 80/20 rule – aka the Pareto Principle. Do you know how you can use the 80/20 principle to help you prioritise your time and your energy, and actually reach your goal?

How the Pareto Principle got its name

The Pareto principle was named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. He published his findings on wealth distribution after he discovered that 20% of Italy’s citizens owned 80% of the country’s wealth. Since then, others have applied this 80/20 rule of cause and effect to a variety of situations.

One of these was theNHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement Efficiency. They used the Pareto Principle to work out that:

  • 80% of innovations come from 20% of staff
  • 80% of decisions come from 20% meeting time
  • 80% of success comes from 20% efforts

Hence the commonly used name of the Pareto Principle – the 80/20 rule.

What is the 80/20 rule?

To use the 80-20 rule you need to shift your thinking.

Firstly, you have to understand that not every task matters equally. Some tasks are more important than others for you to reach your goal (whatever this is). You need to prioritise your actions.

Secondly, it is not possible to multitask. When you try to focus on everything at once, you end up not truly focusing on anything at all.

Once you understand the above, you are ready for the 80-20 rule. It is based on the principle that 20% of what you do gives you 80% of your outcome/benefit. Switch that around and you will find that 80% of your results come from just 20% of your effort.

This means that you need to concentrate your time on tasks that give you the greatest return. 

Leaders prioritise the 20% of work that delivers 80% of the results

To use the 80-20 rule to your advantage you need to know what it is you want to focus on so you can zero in on the 20% that will make a difference to your business.  

What is your goal?

Your goal may be for your business or for you personally. You may want higher profit levels, more time with your family or to travel the world. Whenever you make a decision or have a task to fulfil ensure that it takes you closer to your goal.

What are the barriers to reaching your goal?

What’s holding you back from reaching your goal? Maybe you need to make a big change to succeed? This could mean launching a new product, restructuring your business, or finding new efficiencies. Analyse and create a list of 5 actions that you need to do to reach your goal, then proritise these as to how important and how quickly they will help you to get you to your goal. The top item is your first priority.

Prioritise actions that will deliver 80% of your results

Break the top priority action into smaller actions. These action items are the 20% of the 80-20 rule – the things you’ll spend 20% of your time doing that will yield the greatest results.

  • Allocate resources to these action items
  • Allocate resources where they’ll have the highest impact
  • Outsource or delegate other action items

Top Tips for using the 80/20 rule from the Hour Hands team

  1. Identify tasks that yield the greatest results and move you towards fulfilling your goal. Organise your day to focus on those tasks.

This will help you perform more effectively, and should help you grow your business or advance your career. It can also improve your work-life balance.

  1. Examine tasks on a daily basis if you can – you should do this at least once a week.
  2. Once you’ve worked out which tasks deliver the greatest return, delegate the other tasks to your team or outsource them.
  3. Make your plan – and stick to it!
  4. Be flexible. 80/20 may not be right for you – it may be that a 70/30 or 90/10 rule works better for your life or business.

Use the 80/20 rule at home too

The 80/20 rule works across many aspects of your life too, here are a few examples: 

  • Do you wear 20% of your clothes, 80% of the time? This may help you clear out your wardrobes.
  • How much time do you spend doing things that don’t truly make you happy? Look at how you spend your free time and focus on the things that give you the greatest return be that supporting your family, health and wellbeing, or something that makes your heart sing.
In short, when you prioritise and focus, you will optimise your productivity. Analyse tasksAllocate time and Delegate responsibility for the non-profitable tasks.

How the flexible Hour Hands team flexes to support you and your business too

Hour Hands is made up of experienced EAs, personal assistants and bookkeepers who are waiting and willing to support you with those tasks that aren’t your personal priority tasks. From booking travel, to managing your diary and managing your accounts and tax returns – we can help you complete tasks and shift them off your matrix (or to-do list!). We flex our offer to suit your needs be it a one off project or resolving a particular task, or even delivering long term support. 

To find out more simply call us on 01727 818262. We will ask how we can support you and offer a solution either on an hourly rate or package cost. The choice is yours – we simply want to help.