What is the 80/20 Rule? (& how I apply it to everything)

There are tons of self-help techniques and time management theories out there. You could even say we’re bombarded by them.

The 80/20 principle, often known as the “Pareto Principle,” is one of the best.

So what does 80-20 mean?

Is it worth applying to your business?

Your life?


We’ll discuss in this post! 

80 20 principle - me explaining the rule

The Fundamental Definition of The 80 20 Rule 

Simply put, the 80/20 principle states that 20% of the causes for a given event produce 80% of the effects.

This concept has been applied to a multitude of fields in business.

For example, 80% of a company’s revenue comes from 20% of its clients.

You can apply it to all of business.

And I argue that you can apply the 80/20 principle to all of life.

Let’s talk about where the rule came from…

The Origins of The 80 20 Rule 

During his time, Dr. Joseph Juran, a well-known quality management specialist, invented the phrase “Pareto Principle” in the mid-1940s.

It’s named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who devised an intriguing formula in 1897. 

Surprisingly, it wasn’t facts that motivated Pareto, but rather his garden. Because an analytical mind can’t stop analyzing, Pareto discovered that 20% of his pea pods generated 80% of his peas.

This piqued Pareto’s interest.

Was this theory applicable to other fields, such as economics?

It sure was!

Pareto observed that 20% of the population held 80% of the land in Italy.

How Can The 80 20 Rule Boost Your Business? 

The 80/20 rule, when correctly implemented, allows a company and its employees to focus on what matters most.

A Small Caveat 

Multitasking is proven to be ineffective.

I agree (ask me how I know).

The 80/20 rule encourages businesses to quit attempting to do everything all at once. 

Instead, they should focus their time, energy, and resources on the tasks that produce the highest and best returns.

In other words, the more focused the resources, the better the outcomes.

However, this isn’t to suggest that the other 80% of the revenue is ignored. You can’t disregard “less profitable” customers.

Choosing what to work on (and when) is the skill. 

[Here’s a video with some top productivity hacks. You can implement some of them in your 80/20 goal.]

The 80 20 Rule Applies to everything

When it came to fixing defects in its software, Microsoft famously used the 80/20 rule.

They discovered that focusing on the 20% of issues that had the most significant impact allowed their teams to prevent 80% of system faults and crashes.

As a content creator, 20% of your blog posts are responsible for 80% of your views.

20% of your employees account for 80% of lost, sick days in human resources.

As a business owner, 80% of your resources yield 20% of your output. 

Are you starting to catch on? The list of applications is endless.

Concentrate on what promotes efficiency and productivity where it counts the most.

You will have to think outside the box for these ideas.

Heck, maybe even destroy the box.

Utilize the resources you have to create these outcomes.

How I Apply The 80 20 Principle

I remind myself daily of the 80/20 principle.

My ‘to do’ list will never end, and that’s ok.

I have to choose what to do each day, week, or month.

The 80/20 principle is perfect for this.

I look at the time that I have, and I look at what I need to do.

Subconsciously, I’m asking myself questions like:

  • Will this activity raise revenue?
  • Does the action bring joy to my life?
  • Am I making the world around me a better place by doing it?
  • If I don’t do it, what is the worst-case scenario?

Asking these questions has served me well when my plate is full, and I’m trying to decide what to accomplish.

Do you have questions that you ask??

Let me give you some final thoughts.

80/20 Rule Takeaways

Maybe you are launching your blog or thinking through starting a business.

Heck, maybe you’re just trying to figure out which business is the best for you to start!

Whatever the case, Pareto’s Principle (the 80/20 rule!) will server you well.

You are going to be tasked with making a lot of decisions on a daily basis.

Use the 80/20 principle to help guide your time and energy to where it should go.

Your decision-making will compound over time.

And you’ll get better and better at it.

Best of luck!

Disclosure: This article might contain affiliate links to the resources I refer to. It's at no cost to you, and it's how we pay the bills. Get more info here.

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Brooks Conkle

Brooks is an entrepreneur, father, husband, & follower of the golden rule. He has over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur after graduating with a Finance degree from Auburn University. Addicted to starting new business projects, he believes in creating multiple income streams and a life of flexibility. Business should work around your life, not the other way around. He creates content on his website, sharing his projects to help other hustlers in marketing, personal finance, and online business.