Fuck 80/20, go 100%!

The Pareto principle is very common in the business world. It states that, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It is named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered this connection in different areas of life. This 80/20-rule of thumb is well studied and for some natural phenomena empirically proven. In the context of business, it is applied to profits, revenue, sales, problems and much more.

Nevertheless, I’ve a serious problem with that 80/20-rule.

Excuse for laziness

Open any self-optimization or self-help book and I guarantee that you will find in at least 80% of them the 80/20-rule. Maybe the used term is not the same, but the underlying principle is: do less, achieve more.

So why do I’ve a problem with that pretty established rule? Because I think many people use the 80/20-rule as an excuse. They go for 20% and stop, because they feel successful. They give 20% and think they are doing extraordinary.

I know, life isn’t about giving 110% 24/7 - but can you imagine a world where people only go for 20%? We would have stopped on our way to the moon, marathon runners would stop at 5.24 miles, buildings would consist of basements and nothing else.

Actually, most of us give much less than 100%. My assumption might sound spacy, but take a moment and think about yourself.

Time = Money = Life

How do you spend your time? Do you really give more than 20%? What about the other 80%? Do you spend them on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Medium? Do you spend them thinking about what to eat next? Do you spend them on what other might be thinking of you? Do you spend them on Netflix?

Most of us think we give 100% or even more but actually it’s much less. It might not be 20%, but at least 30% or 40%. We have the feeling that we are productive, we have the feeling that we have achieved something great. But the truth is, we fool ourself constantly.

We are living in a bubble, designed by ourself. We surround ourself with people that make us feel comfortable with our 20%-lifestyle. Show me your best friends and I tell you who you are. Sounds awful, but there is some truth in it.

The equation in the world we live is very simple: time = money = life. So every minute you spend in life is money. I don’t want to make you believe that money is everything in life. Money doesn’t make you happy by itself. Nevertheless, our society is historically built up around money.

Even if you want to save the environment, you need money. You’re seriously ill? You need money! So use your time wisely and see your daily spent time as the most important investment.

Invest time in things that matter

There is a simple business principle we can apply easily to our life: Return of Investment (ROI). When you spend an excessive amount of your time on watching Netflix, your return will be bad health, tiredness and a foggy brain. When you spend your time on your business, your return will be money (maybe not now, but somewhen in the future). Spending time meditating or practicing Yoga? Great, that’s an investment in your health, which (subsequently) makes you stronger and more productive.

As you can see, I’m not a convinced fan of the 24/7 hustle, but I want to make sure that you always keep in mind that time is the most valuable currency in life.

20% investment = 20% return

So if you invest 20% of your time in your business, don’t expect to get 80% or even 100% return. You’ve to go 100% to achieve 100%. Do you want to know “the one and only secret” of successful people? They work their asses off. They hustle really hard. They give 110% to get out 110%.

If you’re happy with your 20%-life, go on. But if you want to have an impact on any area of your life, you have to go a bit further. You can’t get the medal for a marathon by running 5.24 miles. You have to go through hard times, pain and suffer. But in the end you will feel awesome and strong, better than ever before.

Stay healthy, don’t burnout

That said, I want to make it clear that it’s also important to invest in your health. Take some time out of your day for yourself (and not for anything like Facebook or Netflix), but use it wisely. Learn how to meditate, join the next CrossFit box, do some bikram yoga. But don’t be lazy, use your precious time here wisely.


Enjoyed my article? Would love to hear from you! What are your thoughts on the 80/20-rule?