Pareto Principle – The Law of Imbalance

The Pareto Principle is known by many names, like the “Law of Imbalance” or the 80/20 rule. The principle can be used for almost anything in our lives. You must be wondering what this so called Law of Imbalance is all about.

Pareto Principle and Time Management

The Rule of Pareto can also be used with great success for time management. The principle suggests that 80% of what we achieve is done in just 20% of our time. This means there is a huge imbalance between input (effort) and output (results).

Even more mind blowing is the fact that the Pareto principle states that we can achieve our main goals in one day, 20% of a normal work week. Our work efforts of the other days only add up to a small fraction of what matters. That is quite a statement… but what is true about all of this?

By taking this natural imbalance into account, and applying this principle for time management purposes, you can get really great results in terms of output. You can, and should, spend more time than 20% of your time and effort on your most important tasks. You might instinctively already be beating the Pareto Principle, but with extra effort and attention for this principle you might further improve.

Who Created The Pareto Principle?

The principle was created (or discovered) by Vilfredo Pareto. This Italian lived in the 19th century and studied wealth distribution in England. He soon discovered that a few families owned a disproportionate amount of the country’s wealth. There was a huge imbalance. He discovered that 20% of the families owned about 80% of all the

A More Effective Approach With The Pareto Principle

Aiming for a day in which every single second is spent on your most important tasks is impossible. Interaction with colleagues and a bit of chit-chat do belong in your day. Simply be aware of the 80/20 rule and use it sensibly to achieve greater results.

Personally I use Toggl to keep track of how I spend my time in the office. I divide my time into a couple of quadrants. The quadrants I use are from Stephen Covey’s approach to time management and they are as following:

  • Quadrant 1: Urgent & Important (Critical Activities)
  • Quadrant 2: Not urgent & Important (Important Goals)
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent & Not important (Interruptions)
  • Quadrant 4: Not urgent & Not important (Distractions)


I try to spent as much time in the “Important Goals” (Quadrant 2) as possible. By elimination Q3 and Q4 activities, and spending more time on Q2 activities, you can reduce the number of Q1 activities. By planning and working ahead, you can reduce the threat of crises and unpredicted emergencies.

My personal aim is to spend at least 50% – 75% of my time on Quadrant 2 activities, meaning my goals that help me in live, self improvement, general planning and building relationships with others.

Being aware of the 80/20 rule has really changed my life. I have double – in some cases even tripled – my outputs and results. I have less stress at work and more control. I achieve great results at work, without having to work more than 40 hours per week. I have exponentially grown my effectiveness in the office.

How To Start Using The Pareto Rule To Achieve Succes

This is what I did in order to double my results:

  • Start tracking time. This helps you see how much time is wasted, and how much time you can free up to use on Quadrant 2 activities.
  • Start looking for 80/20 imbalances in your work. There is always, no matter what job you have, an imbalance. Are you in Sales? There might be clients who are avid buyers and almost never complain. Are you in Marketing? There might be content that is being read the most, resulting in SEO traffic from just a tiny fragment of your whole content marketing plan.
  • Reduce interruptions and distractions. Spend as little time as possible on other people’s priorities. Time is valuable. Every minute you spend is spend for good. You will never get it back. Therefore use your time wisely and work on the stuff that helps you grow or learn, things that you love doing.
  • Keep tracking your time. It will take a couple of months before you see drastic changes. So keep tracking how you spend your time. Steer and control yourself if necessary. The temptation to act on interruptions and be distracted will be enormous, but you can overcome them. Try to maintain this ratio:
    >10% on Q1
    > 70% on Q2 (or more, if possible)
    > 20% on Q3 (or less, if possible)
    > 0% on Q4 (this is the easiest to eliminate completely).

If you are having trouble finding your highest leverage tasks, your 80/20 tasks, then feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I will do my utmost best to help you find your most rewarding input.

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