Pareto Rule And How You Can Apply It

The Pareto Rule, or oftentimes the 80/20 Rule, may not ring a bell. Especially if you are not an expert in 20th century economics. But, masters of time management have been following the findings of the Pareto Rule since its conception.

What It Means…

In the early 20th century, an economist by the name of Vilfredo Pareto wanted to come up with a mathematical explanation to explain income inequality. Pareto realized that wealth was not distributed evenly. He noticed that about 20% of the people had about 80% of the wealth.

Pareto’s rule is about inequality. Not everything in life is going to be distributed evenly. Oftentimes, 20% of a group can be responsible for 80%. An example is that 20% of a classroom of toddlers is responsible for 80% of the mess. It can also have a positive connotation – 20% of the class is responsible for 80% of the cleanliness.

The Pareto Rule has become incredibly popular within business. Businesses have utilized the Pareto Rule to make decisions on hiring and compensation, among other things.

The Pareto Rule and Time Management…

So, the Pareto Rule was created by an economist. And, we know that businesses use it. But, how does this rule about the uneven distribution of things help someone that wants to become more efficient?

By remembering the Pareto Rule, you are able to prioritize much easier. When you see that 20% of a task is responsible for 80% of the end goal, you are much more likely to focus more on that 20% and make sure it’s done correctly. The Pareto Rule is a great way to help people prioritize.

One way to look at it would be that in any given task, 80% of it is trivial while the other 20% is vital. There are some incredibly important parts to any given task while the bulk of it can just be winged through. By understanding this distribution, we can then be sure to focus on what is actually important and going to yield the most results.

Ways to Incorporate the Pareto Rule…

  1. Prioritize. By knowing that such a small part of any project can yield the highest results, the Pareto Rule can be instrumental in learning how to prioritize. One often used tip with the Pareto Rule is to write out all of your tasks for the day. Then, cross off 80% of the list and you can see what is truly important. Sometimes, that isn’t a possibility. So, keep the Pareto Rule in mind while figuring out your priorities and creating that to-do list order. You don’t have to remove 80% of your list, but be mindful.
  2. Cut Out Unimportant Tasks. After you realize how small your vital tasks really are, you are able to remove the unimportant tasks completely from your life. There are some tasks that you do that don’t add any value to your life or projects. By recognizing these tasks, you are saving valuable time.
  3. Focus. By knowing what is most important, you can focus on the truly important tasks. You can laser in on what is the most important and get that 100% correct before rushing off to the next task. The biggest benefit that the Pareto Rule gives us is to work smarter, not harder. Work smarter by focusing on the 20% that is more important and breeze through the “busy work” of the 80%.


The Pareto Rule is a great way to prioritize and a great reminder that not everything is as important as everything else. It is a wonderful reminder about how unevenly results can come about. The Pareto Rule is a integral part of time management. Once you have acknowledged that not everything is going to yield equal results, you can work on focusing on the most important tasks and fine tune your time management skills.

Obviously, if we were able to get everything down to that 20% that is vital, the Pareto Rule wouldn’t mean anything. It’s an impossible goal, but by recognizing its importance and value, you can prioritize and focus on that 20% that truly does matter.

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