The 80/20 rule is about becoming mindful about where you put your energy, and making a decision to focus on what matters most to you. How do you decide what matters most? I use a simple formula; Impact, Joy and Sustainability. You can read more about this formula here.

The idea behind the 80/20 Rule is that 80% of results are produced by 20% of the effort. This relates to just about every area of life. Some of the more fun applications I’ve heard include.

~ 80% of beer is consumed by 20% of people (and I think I know a few of them)

~ You wear 20% of your clothes, 80% of the time. (in my case, its more like 10%, 90% of the time)

~ More seriously, 80% of wealth is owned by 20% of people

~ 80% of volunteer work is done by 20% of people

~ 80% of what you achieve each day comes from 20% of your effort (which adds up to LOTS of procrastination and wasted time)

So, how can you realign your efforts to match your priorities? Imagine one or both of these scenarios

1. You get the work you need to get done with 20% of your effort. That’s just under 5 hours a day. THAT LEAVES over 19 hours a day to devote to things that really make you feel alive and on fire; volunteer work, time with your family and friends, time to focus on wellness etc etc etc……but that’s assuming that you’re not on fire about your work.

2. Now imagine that you ARE on fire about your work because you choose to spend your professional time on things that matter and have impact and give you joy. Now you have the ultimate win/win. You can make your 5 hours a day REALLY count. Or you can spend more than 5 hours a day on work, but REALLY prioritize how you do it, to cut out the wasted time and increase your productivity exponentially. Wow! Now we’re talking!

Here are some ways to use the 80/20 rule:

  1. At Work  –  Create a chart with 5 columns; Task, time spent, impact, joy, sustainable. Does the task have an impact (for you and others)? Does it give you joy and personal satisfaction? Does it help to sustain your work goals? Give impact, joy and sustainable a rating between 1 and 10, 1 being low impact and 10 being high impact. Now add them up and each task has a score out of 30. Divide that number by time spent and you have a single number for each task. If checking your email gives you a score of 20 out of 30 and it takes you 60 minutes a day, your single number for email would be 0.3. If another task also has a score of 30 but takes you only 30 minutes, it gives you a score of 1. You get the idea. The higher the number, the more value you’re getting from the task. Find a way to spend less time on email (or whatever the conclusion is)
  2. Lifestyle/ Wellness- Create a similar chat with activities (include being on the list, a category that might include the time you enjoy wasting, like staring out a window) Give each activity a score out of 30 and divide it by the amount of time you spend on it. See what you notice about your time management.
  3. Relationships – Same thing again. Do an analysis of time spent with different family and friends. Does each relationship have impact (for you and others)? Does this relationship bring you joy? Does this relationship sustain your highest values? There may be people in your life that need to be there even if they end with a low score in your rating. Try to minimize your time spent on these relationships.

You get the picture. You can do a similar exercise with television, food, investments, budget, internet use, etc.

The point is that you only live once but as someone famous said, “if you do it right, once is enough”. So make the choice, from this moment forward, to live 100% of your life in a way that creates incredible impact (for you and others), that brings you spectacular joy, and sustains your highest values and hopes.

A couple of last thoughts.

~ Make a To Be list, and keep it close by your To Do list. Your To Be list will guide your self talk and keep you off the carousel of mindless activity.

~ Prioritize well-being and well-doing will fall into place.

~ Also think about a “Not To Do” list. Note the things that don’t bring impact or joy to your life, or are not sustainable, and strike them out of your life.

Richard Kock is considered the guru of 80/20 thinking. In his book “Living the 80/20 Way; Work Less Worry Less Succeed More Enjoy More. The title is in itself inspiring. The crux of the book is this

The modern delusion is “more with more” – that to get more out of life, and succeed in what we want, we have to work harder, devote more time of our professional life, and make all kinds of sacrifices and trade-offs.

Koch says NO. He shows how, in most every aspect of life, less is more.


Subscribe to Grapevine Back to Grapevine page

  1. Tina Rae says:

    I’ve known about this principle for some time but forgot about it until I saw this post.  I immediately searched Richard Koch and ordered the book!  I just received it yesterday and I’m planning on implementing it personally and professionally, thanks for reminding me about it:)