The 80/20 rule

I’ve mentioned the 80/20 principle in previous blogs such as the most recent one (hard work vs smart work) And realised that this concept deserves it’s own mention, as if it is used effectively it has the power to change every aspect of your life for the better! So if that sounds interesting grab your drink and keep reading.

If you’re reading this blog you’re probably a bit of a book worm or just want to expand your knowledge and seeing these numbers is a bit daunting but don’t worry, it’s not all about maths, it’s a concept that we can apply to our every day life to be more productive. So let’s look at where it all began.

Where did the 80/20 rule come from?

Sometime In the late 19th century – early 20th century a man named Vilfredo Pareto was in his garden tending to his plants when he made an interesting discovery…
He observed that a tiny number of pea pods produced the most amount of healthy peas. Vilfredo Pareto was an Economist so was naturally good with numbers. Unlike many Economist of his time Pareto was turning the understanding of the economy in to a science, using facts and quantitative data.
So what if this unequal distribution was present in other areas of our lives?
As an economist Vilfredo Pareto was concerned with forecasting the distribution of money by looking at data such as tax records. At the time, Pareto was studying wealth in various nations. As he was Italian, he began by analysing the distribution of wealth in Italy. To his surprise, he discovered that approximately 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by just 20 percent of the people. Similar to the pea pods in his garden.
Pareto began to realise that a pattern was occurring, this trend is present in most economical backgrounds. Although not all followed the principle of 80/20 they didn’t stray to far from, with the statistics of 70/30 also being seen. Showing us that the majority of results come from the smaller things, in the first case: Majority of the land was owned by 20% of the people.
Vilfredo Pareto also was a sociologist and political scientists where he used the same principles to explain what he called elite theory. Elite theory is a bit like a tamed version of what some people say the illuminati is. The theory posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite and policy -planning networks, holds the most power. Instead of rambling on about illuminati and conspiracy theories, let’s see how this can be applied to your life.

What is the pareto principle?

In the 1940s Dr. Joseph M. Juran, a product quality guru of that era, attributed the 80/20 rule to Pareto and called it Pareto's principle or Pareto's law. So Pareto’s principle is the same as the 80/20 rule it’s just been credited to Vilfredo Pareto as he was the first person to observe the remarkable findings.

What is the 80/20 rule?

The 80/20 rule also known as the 80/20 principle is the idea that 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes. For example, 80% of results come from 20% of the input.

What can you use the 80/20 rule for?

To be honest with you the 80/20 rule can apply to pretty much anything, I’ll go over some of the more popular ones below.

How to apply the 80/20 rule for studying

We all know how it feels like to be inefficient: spending many hours “studying” without getting much productive work done can be incredibly frustrating, and is a drain on time and energy for you.
Here’s what you can do about it!
  • Pomodoro technique: This is a way of getting tasks done more efficiently, in short you set a timer for 25 minutes and then have a 5 minute rest, you will do this consecutively 4 times, once you have done that you have a break for around 20-30 minutes. If you would like to read more about the Pomodoro effect click here.
  • Limit distractions: Whilst using the Pomodoro technique put your phone on airplane mode, your laptop, if you have one, on focus assist and have blank piece of paper nearby just in case you have any thoughts, so you can come back to them once you’re done.
  • Work space: Using your bed as your office isn’t the best idea, as you either can’t sleep or you feel tired when you are about to study, for me it was the later, this because your brain condition’s itself to associate the two together. Try using a desk in the presence of natural sunlight for the best outcome.
  • Be clear on the task at hand: Before you start these Pomodoro’s you should know what you want to achieve by the end of each segment.

How to apply the 80/20 rule for productivity

Productivity is one of my main interests as I’ve only just finished school and I was trying to juggle school, business and pleasure, which as you can imagine wasn’t the easiest of things to – but I survived! Productivity is also a big part of self improvement so I’m naturally drawn to this one as this is what I do.
Here’s some of the ways you can be more productive using the 80/20 principle
  • To do list: Write down all of the tasks that you have got to do, for example let’s say there is 10 things, after you’ve done this choose the top 2 most important tasks on this list and only focus on them. By working on 20% of your tasks you’ll gain 80% of the results from them!
  • Habits: Think of all your habits and figure out which ones make you the best you, In doing so you can refine your good habits to make them better and also break bad ones that you might of accumulated over the years.
  • Reading: What’s one of the main things “gurus” tell you to do… READ, yes this is a great habit but they expect you to remember, comprehend and understand everything about the book and let’s be honest, there’s a lot of waffling to go through so instead, try and take what I like to call the GOLDEN NUGGET’S from the book, the most valuable information that you gather from it, the 1 or 2 concepts that you would take from the book if you had to. If you would like to learn more about reading click here.

How can the 80/20 rule apply to management?

I’m going to be honest I’m not the best at this, as I only manage myself but as an A* business student, (humble brag) I’ll give it a go! In project management the 80/20 rule asserts that by focusing on the 20% of work that matters most to your clients, will produce 80% of the project results. Therefore, many of the most important results in your projects will come based on a minority of work that you and your team complete.
  • Team meeting: Mostly every worker hates meetings as they just seem to be a waste of time so, cut the crap. Keep your meetings short and only have as many as you need in respective of your business. Make sure the aims of what the meeting is about are clear so everyone is on the same track. Make quality be the key aspect of your meeting over quantity.
  • Team size: Ever heard the phrase “to many cooks spoils the broth” well the 80/20 rule can be applied here. instead of having a big team working on a project it often makes sense to limit the team to the people who’s personalities and attributes best suit the task. Having a few people working on your project who do great work and have great ideas rather than adding barriers.
  • Metrics = money: You might find that 20% of your products make 80% of your profits or 20% of your time spent on projects makes 80% of your results, whatever the case may be a great way to apply these to your business is to use data formats, any way of collecting data. You could use cash flow charts, time management apps like desktime or gantt charts. Anything that is going to allow you and your business to work more effectively. If you would like to learn how to be more efficient read our kaizen blog by clicking here.

How to use the 80/20 rule as a diet?

Many people successfully lose weight with the 80/20 diet. It's not technically a full-scale weight loss plan, but the 80/20 diet works. If you hate following strict food guidelines, you don't want to count calories or carbohydrates, and you can't find the time to balance complicated macronutrients, then the rules of the 80/20 diet might be right for you. Experts have said "The 80/20 diet approaches healthy eating with a message of moderation—80 percent healthy choices and 20 percent flexibility for less healthy options. Nutrition professionals back this approach, as it’s feasible for all, allows for a variety of foods, and avoids deprivation."
To follow the 80/20 rule, you eat a "clean" diet 80 percent of the time and then allow yourself to enjoy a few indulgences 20 percent of the time. For many people, this means they eat well during the week and relax a bit on the weekend. The plan allows you to enjoy indulgences on a regular basis without the kind of guilt people often feel when they “cheat” on a strict food plan. This however can be abit vague and isn’t necessarily the “best” way to loose weight, instead it’s a guidance on how to eat in a balanced way. So what’s the 80 and what’s 20? Well I’m not a dietitian but a basic guideline would be…

Food to eat 80% of the time:

  • Whole grain
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean proteins
  • Low fat/dairy products

Foods to eat 20% of the time:

  • Saturated fats (in excess)
  • Refined carbohydrate’s/sugar (in excess)
  • Process foods (in excess)

Extra tips

  • Exercise
  • Don’t overindulge
  • Portion control

How to use the 80/20 rule for social media?

There's no secret formula to successfully engaging with your audience on social media, but applying 'The 80/20 Rule' should always be a big part of your social media strategy. It simply comes down to this: use just 20% of your content to promote your brand, and dedicate 80% to content that really interests your audience and engages them in conversations. Think about it, your on a social media platform, people aren’t trying to buy your product, I’m sure it’s great but don’t you think people see enough advertisements from the social media itself. They’re there to be social, they want to be entertained. Build relationships not customers!

How to engage your followers?

  • Call to action: At the end of your content, for example an Instagram caption have a CTA (call to action) this is a prompt that you give your audience to make them do something, you may see influencers say “double tap if you agree” or “type yes if you are ready to receive money “ this doesn’t mean if you type yes your going to get 100,000,000 from them through PayPal.
  • Make it shareable: The better the content, the more it’s shared, the more it’s shared, the more it’s shared the better it does. It’s like a domino effect. The end goal is to go viral leading to more traffic which in turn (if you have a good product) means more sales.
  • Be a part of a community: All these likes mean nothing if you’re not making sales. A concept I like to use is hot and cold customers. Hot customers are the people that follow you religiously and are more likely to buy your products, they’re abit like a 20% themselves. Cold customers might of seen your content but aren’t really invested, you want to transfer as many cold customers to hot customers as possible. Try making your business part of a niche so you eventually can become the figure head. Try engaging with other people and businesses that are similar to your own.

How to use the 80/20 for training?

The most fundamental variables of training for sport are volume and intensity. In lay terms, volume is how much effort you put in and intensity is how hard you do these things. No other factor affects the outcomes of training as strongly as these two. There are two main questions asked in sport for how we should train: What amount of training improves fitness the most? The second questions was What are the relative proportions of low, moderate, and high-intensity training that yield the best results?
it has been demonstrated that triathletes and endurance athletes gain the most fitness when they do approximately 80 percent of their training at low intensity (think zone 1 and 2) and the remaining 20 percent at moderate (zone 3) and high intensities (zone 4 and above) I would advise you reading this article to understand more about it.

How to use the 80/20 rule for marketing?

You probably have hundreds or thousands of followers and possible customers on your website, email list and social media. Keep close tabs on which customers made a recent purchase, are frequent buyers, or which ones were generous in their purchases.
Once you’ve identified these 20%, tag them as a top priority for your sales and marketing efforts and use their customer data to help you find and attract new audiences as will make you 80% of your profits.
  • Locality: Weather you run a business locally or across seas, you will find that most of your business comes from a small amount of locations. Take the across seas example, 80% of your profits come from 20% of the countries, once you realise where these countries are double down on them and only send adverts to these places.
  •  Loyalty is royalty: Certain clients are always going to be your high-volume buyers, but it’s important not to take them for granted. Don’t lose sight of your best clients while getting bogged down in acquiring new customers or dealing with problem clients. Make sure that you’re always staying in contact with your best clients and providing a superior customer experience. Keep these types of customers delighted with your service by interacting with them on a more personal level, and continue exploring other business opportunities with them.
  • Copy cat: Take note of the top 20% sales people in your organisation. These are the members of your team who are closing more sales or are delighting your customers most effectively. Whatever attributes and techniques your top salespeople have should be your yardstick in forming additional teams or in training the rest of your sales force.
Overall the 80/20 rule can be used in many aspects of life, it’s a way of being more efficient. It’s been a great formula for to help stop procrastinating as it helps alleviate the stress of everything I do by focusing on the most important tasks and not sweating the small stuff! I strongly advise you to implement the 80/20 rule in to your life to help you be more productive and ultimately a happier person!
If you would like to learn more about the 80/20 rule read this book 
If you have any further questions, remarks or requests for what you would like to see more of, you can comment here on the blog, or message us on Instagram, Facebook or email.

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