What is the 80/20 Rule and How Do I Apply it to My Life?

by placers on May 27, 2022 in Outside Insights


To be clear, most people have heard of the 80/20 Rule, yet most are not sure what it is or how to use it in their life. The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is the way to save time and to improve personally and professionally.

In the late 19th century, Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, noticed that 80 percent of the pea pod harvest from his garden came from 20 percent of his pea plants. He then thought of an unlikely parallel between his small garden and his country’s economy: about 20 percent of Italy’s people owned 80 percent of the country’s wealth.

Over time, other connections were drawn under the 80/20 Rule, which at its core is about probability.

Some commonly referenced examples of 80/20 Rule:

– You get 80% of your profits from 20% of your customers
– Leaders have 80% of their challenges or issues with 20% of their employees or suppliers.
– 20% of business development staff produce 80% of the new customers.

Put generally, the 80/20 Rule means we get the most impact from the investments that were made efficiently and with quality top of mind. You know, quality over quantity.

As a young leader my mentor would often share observations about how I worked. “Chris not everything you do is equally important, some of what you do in a day simply should not be done by you, or in many cases, by anyone.”

I had to learn my lesson the hard way. For a long while I believed work equaled results and outcomes. That the more I worked the faster my company would grow, and thus the more customers and employees I would have. I had energy, a belief in myself, and a work ethic.

I was proud that I could work long and hard. As a kid, I watched my dad work 15-hour days and Saturdays. I later worked in the family business and tried hard to keep up with others that seemed to do their job in a way I wanted to emulate. When I started our first business, my kids and wife brought in dinner to the office. Work was what I did. I believed that without the constant grind and putting 100% of myself into the process I would risk letting down my family, my first employees and those first customers that believed in me.

As it turns out, this 100% mindset did cause me to disappoint those closest to me. Hell, I was even disappointed in myself and the caricature of a workaholic I had become.

So, ten years ago I applied the 80/20 Rule to my life, and so can you. As described, before this change I was doing every single task and duty in the business – the more the merrier! As the business grew I worked more hours until I had no more to give it.

I took a step back and asked myself: what am I actually paid to do?

First look at how you spend your time over a few weeks. Look at your list of tasks and duties. And ask yourself a few questions:

1. Are you over or under paid to do that task?
2. Is this work that only you can do?
3. What do you like to do and are good at?

It’s easy with this mindset to review a day or week and see if you’re spending your time on the right things.

I then took this list and learned to delegate and stop doing everything just because I could.

When delegating work across my team, I used this formula. But you can develop one that works best for you and your scenarios!

– 10% of the work is on you to share what needs to be done and why
– 80% of it is on the person, company or team that does the work.
– 10% is on you to review, check in and communicate.

To me, the 80/20 Rule is all about managing my energy. To create the life we want, we need to marshal our energy into the things that we love, what we are good at, what we are paid to do, and really, where we feel the most passionate.

It took me a while to learn that for every task I thought I had to do all by myself there was an incredibly talented member of my team just waiting for their opportunity to shine. Now, I surround myself with people I trust and that I know can do the job better than I could now. That’s what being a leader and growing a team is all about.

For me, 24 hours a day was too much temptation in the beginning. Finding a way to maximize my outputs and efficiency by doing the right things made all the difference. It’s not perfect, I’m not perfect. I still like to work more than I should (working on it!). But it calls on me to be intentional with my time and I believe that’s a reminder we all need.

How will you apply the 80/20 Rule in your life or business?

Until next time,


If you enjoyed this article, I recommend reading these past Outside Insights posts:

What Is Your Legacy?
What Are Your 3 Critical Life Lessons?
Workation in Wydaho

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