One of the most helpful of all concepts of time and management is the 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. Pareto noticed that people in society seemed to divide naturally into what he called the “vital few,” the top 20 percent in terms of money and influence, and the “trivial many,” the bottom 80 percent. For example, this rule says that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results.
Twenty percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your sales. Twenty percent of your products or services will account for 80 percent of your profits. Twenty percent of your tasks will account for 80 percent of the value of what you do, and so on. In other words, if you have a list of 10 items to do, two of those items will turn out to be worth as much or more than the other eight items put together. Therefore these are the things to consider in the 80/20 Rule:
The greatest payoff is in the most valuable tasks. Each task you undertake may take the same amount of time to accomplish, but the difference with this rule is that one or two of those tasks will contribute five or 10 times the value as any of the others. Therefore the decision to be made is to select the task that you should do first.
As a guide, the most valuable tasks you can do each day are often the hardest and most complex. For this reason, you must definitely refuse to work on tasks in the bottom 80 percent while you still have tasks in the top 20 percent left to be done. So always ask yourself, is this task in the top 20 percent or in the bottom 80 percent of my activities?
Manage your tasks and conversely manage your life. Self management is really life management. It is a form of taking control of the sequence of what you do next, and each of us are free to choose the task that you will do next. However the key determinant of your success in life and work is a reflection of how good your ability to choose between the important and the unimportant is.
Getting focused on the 80/20 Rule and then getting started is the hardest part. Once you actually begin work on any important task, you’ll be naturally motivated to continue. Your mind that loves to be busy working on significant tasks that can really make a difference and you’ll need to feed this part of your mind continually.
Disciplined people start on the most important task that is before them. They force themselves to do this. Then as a result, they generally accomplish far more than the average person and are much happier as a result. This should be the way you work as well.