I recently read the book The 80/20 Principle and it’s amazing how a simple concept like this can really help us change and simplify our lives.
I believe everybody should know about this principle and apply it in their lives to live more simply and intentionally.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with work and your life is a mess, you don’t know how to manage your time, or you don’t know where to put your focus, the 80/20 principle can help.
So what is the 80/20 principle exactly?
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The 80/20 principle is a concept that suggests that roughly 80% of our outcome or result comes from 20% of the causes or inputs. In other words, only a minority (20%) of our causes, input or effort is what brings the majority (80%) of our result, output or reward.
This means that it is mostly only a few causes or things that are vital in giving us results or that are truly important for us.
That is why this principle is also known as ‘The Law of the Vital Few’.
This 80/20 principle or ‘The Pareto Principle’ was founded or rather observed by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who saw this principle working in reality in relation to population and wealth.
He observed that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. When he started to study other countries, he noticed the same kind of distribution in them as well.
Since then the 80/20 principle has been heavily applied especially in businesses, management and even in life.
In business, 80% of a company’s profit comes from 20% of its customers. 80% of tasks is completed by 20% of the employees. 80% of income comes from 20% of the products and so on.
The numbers need not exactly be 80/20, but the idea behind it is generally seen to be a rough estimate of 80/20.
Today I want to share how you can apply this 80/20 principle to simplify your life
80/20 principle in my life
After I came to know about this principle, I made a list of the vital few that are really important in my life when it comes to work, daily life and my relationships.
When it comes to blogging, I realised that it’s just 20% of specific tasks that give 80% results.
At work, 80% of a task gets completed 20% of the time if focus is given to the right thing.
A few activities such as exercise, meditation, and prayer that take up only 20% of my time bring 80% of fulfilment in my day.
Similarly, activities such as using social media, and watching Netflix which I was spending 80% of my time on gave me only 20% of my happiness.
20% of my relationships (a few close friends, my partner and a few of my loved ones) bring 80% of fulfilment in my relationship.
But I could also see the 80/20 principle happening elsewhere in my life.
- 80% of my blog traffic comes from 20% of my blog posts.
- In my kitchen, it’s just 20% of the items and utensils that get used 80% of the time.
- I mostly cook the same items 80% of the time.
- When it comes to clothing, only 20% of my clothes are worn 80% of the time.
- Only 20% of my shoes are worn 80% of the time.
- While listening to music, I am only listening to the same 20% of my playlist.
- On my desk, I kept many notebooks out of which only 20% of it got used 80% of the time.
- I have many items in my makeup closet, but only 20% of it gets used most of the time.
Knowing this helped me declutter, sort out, simplify and be intentional about my time, my effort and the things I use and buy.
The goal of 80/20 principle
Thus the goal of the 80/20 principle is to know which 20% is bringing you 80% of result, happiness, fulfilment, income or satisfaction.
The questions you can start asking are:
1. “When it comes to reaching my goals, is this activity/task falling in the 20% category that will give me 80% of my result?
Most of the time we end up spending too much time on planning and making a strategy and less time on actual action.
Our efforts are highly diluted and we focus our energy on too many things. We chase the wrong things that don’t really give us much result in the end and so much of our time and energy gets wasted on it.
Hence we need to keep on asking ourselves, what are the vital few that are really driving the results?
P.S How to set goals the right way
How to set weekly goals and crush it
2. “If I buy this, will this thing be used 80% of the time or will it just be used 20% of the time?”
There have been so many times when I have bought some pants, bags, purses, souvenirs and stuff only to become an addition to the pile of things not being used. But this 80/20 principle in purchases will help you be intentional with the things you buy.
This question will also help while decluttering.
Decluttering is hard when you feel you are going to need it again sometime in future, but the truth is if right now it’s being used only 20% or 10% of the time or sometimes you might find that it is used 0% of the time, you must most certainly eliminate it and then be more mindful and intentional about your purchases from next time on.
3. “Is this thing a cause for 80% of my happiness or sadness?”
This can be anything you’re spending time on in your everyday life- a hobby, an activity, a relationship, your friend circle, what you’re spending money on etc.
Sometimes it’s just one person in our life who can bring us the most drama and misery in our life or one person who can light up our life.
Once you find out what your vital few are in your life, the next thing to do is to maximize that 20% that is bringing 80% reward and reduce and eliminate the 80% that is only giving you 20% of your desired result.
How to apply the 80/20 Principle to simplify your Life
1. Your Home
Look around your home and identify things where the 80/20 principle applies. Use this to make the 20% or vital few more easily available and accessible to you and try to sort out and declutter the rest 80%.
2. Your Happiness
Make a list of things that you do every day. Circle the ones that bring you happiness. Do them more.
P.S. It’s okay if you find out that currently, you have nothing that you do that truly makes you happy. The task then is to add those to your day. Ask yourself, what would make you happy doing? Do them more.
Similarly, what are the things you are merely spending your time on and where you are least happy? Reduce them as much as possible.
As simple as it sounds, happiness is a decision.
Decide to be happy and choose the things that bring you happiness. Be your own creator of happiness. Eliminate what doesn’t bring you joy.
3. Your Work
Identify the 10 things you spend most time on.
Highlight or circle the two things that truly help you give the result you want.
Do more of those.
Automate or delegate what you can and eliminate the rest.
Identify if the people you’re spending time with 80% of the time are bringing you happiness and fulfillment or tension and chaos.
Spend more time with people who actually lift you up and slowly remove yourself from people and the circles that drain you.
Identify the vital few 20% of people in your life who bring 80% of value to your life. Cherish that relationship. Protect it and nurture it and try to spend more quality time with them.
Identify the 20% of customers that are bringing 80% of your income/result. Spend more time nurturing them and making them happy rather than wasting your time and energy on chasing and pleasing the rest 80%.
Similarly, identify the 20% products that give you the most income, the 20% employees that are most efficient, and the 20% tasks that are the most important to get the desired outcome. You know what areas to apply it next.
So this is how you can apply the 80/20 principle to help you simplify your life. I hope it helps you.
The principle is not merely to find out, but to expand what’s truly important and eliminate what isn’t.
If we regularly analyse our lives using the 80/20 principle, our lives will surely be much smoother, simpler and happier.
Our time will be much better spent on Earth and we will be living intentional, mindful lives doing the things that bring the greatest impact on our work, home, relationships and life in general.
P.S This was from my Mindful Monday Newsletter. If you liked what you read and want to receive my updates, join below. It would be wonderful to have you ❤️
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