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What is the Pareto Principle?
The Pareto Principle, named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, or The 80/20 Rule, is an absolute truth of the universe.
The Pareto principle states that:
“20% of of our actions will account for 80% of our outcomes”.
You could also say that:
“Roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes”.
What does this mean?
Well, as far as business and startups go, it means that 20% of your work is going to account for 80% of your results.
It also means that if you learn how to leverage and apply the Pareto Principle to your life, you can take advantage of the biggest life hack in human history.
The Pareto Principle in action
Did you ever wonder where the term work smart comes from?
I’d wager a guess it comes from the Pareto Principle.
For example, the Pareto Principle is a well known axiom in sales. Many sales people have probably had it drilled into them that 80% of our sales come from 20% of our clients, or something similar.
The Pareto Principle is even evident in what I do, which is WordPress. Using WordPress staging environments allows me to cut out 80% of the stress I would receive, if I was brave enough to test new features and updates on my live client sites.
Richard Koch even authored a book on this.
The 80/20 rule is basically the work smart rule.
If you apply this universal truth to your business and routine, you will only work on the 20% of tasks that yield 80% of the results.
This is something I’ve been working on a lot lately. I’ve been allocating planning time a few times each week to just sit down and think about what I’m doing.
What is generating results? What could I do better? How could I be more productive and get more done in the same amount of time?
Leveraging The Pareto Principle
Leveraging The Pareto Principle in your life is the definition of working smart.
Think about it.
You are spending the time to deeply self analyse and weed out all the sh*t.
What actually has got you the results? And what is just a waste of time or busy work.
We are lazy by nature. All of us, even me. We are constantly fighting against our own natures to get stuff done and be successful.
We weren’t designed to climb the corporate ladder or become self made millionaires.
We were designed to procreate and escape death by predator. Our minds simply haven’t evolved to handle the complex levels of decision making and weird new kinds of stress and anxiety this modern level entails.
Which is why you need to get smart and leverage the 80/20 rule.
Why? Because it can drastically cut down the time it takes you to start achieving some level of success.
I wish I had been more self critical 6 years ago. But it’s the lazy thing again. I never used to see the value in planning and an exercise like this would have been something that I would have put off deeming it unnecessary.
The first step to getting smart and massively hacking your life is to take a look at your routine. A good look. Like this:
- What have I done that has moved me close to my goal?
- What have I done that has a negative, or no impact on moving me closer to my goal?
- Drill down a list of the specific tasks that you can do every single day to move you to your goal.
- Plan those tasks a month ahead.
- Consistently execute them every single day.
You also want to remove any friction you can from your life, and burn that stupid no days off t-shirt.
I’ve written before about how most of us aren’t superman. There’s a tiny percentage of us who require 6 hours sleep and no days off. These guys are usually already killing it and at the top of their game.
So my theory is, their willpower is at absolute maximum most of the time because they can to afford to utilise every force multiplier possible, to squeeze every last drop of productivity out of their routine.
For example, having personal trainers to wake you and take you to the gym at 5 am. Good healthy meals cooked and waiting for you when you return, or the money to spend what you want when you want.
This makes going to the gym and working out a breeze.
Mark Zuckerberg wrote about he always wears the same t-shirt every day because it’s one less decision he has to make.
He’s talking about the fact that decisions drain willpower and he is hacking his life and schedule, down to the very first decision he makes in the day.
Unfortunately, while we grind our way to success, we don’t have this same level of luxury, so what we need to do is kill friction and willpower draining exercises so that we can be consistent in our smart tasks and not get burned out doing stupid sh*t or busy work.
Don’t wake up at 5am if you’re not a morning person and this drains you completely.
Get up at 7, don’t be suckered in by everyone else’s advice. Give yourself your own advice. Go with your gut. If you do the same 8–10 hours work everyday, it doesn’t matter if you do it at 5 or 7.
If you get up at 5 and are so exhausted that you can barely manage 4 hours, that isn’t very productive now is it?
If you’re a morning person and this works for you great, if it doesn’t, don’t do it. The wake up at 5am thing is a myth. Look at Aaron Levies’s schedule.
Waking up at a normal time seems to work fine for Mark Zuckerberg too, and I’d say he’s doing pretty well.
Find a routine that is optimum for you and your body clock.
I wake up at 7, take a shower and I’m working by 7.30.
I then take a small break at 9 to eat and get ready for the day. I can maintain this routine consistently 5 days a week, and work weekends when I need to, because it doesn’t drain my willpower too much.
I make sure I give myself time to unwind in the evening. I’ll play a video-game for an hour, watch some TV, go for a walk with my partner, eat a good dinner and just relax.
Each day I’m working on hacking my schedule by just doing the tasks that drive my business forward or deliver results for my customers.
The key takeaway from this article is:
- Self analyse to understand what works and what doesn’t in your routine
- Hack your life by only working on the tasks that yield 80% of the results, and cut out the busy work tasks that yield 20%, or no results.