The 80/20 Rule: How It Works and How You Can Apply It In Your Life To Get The Best Results

The 80-20 rule can help you set yourself up for success.


It can be applied to all aspects of your life, from work to home.

ReelNat will discuss the 80-20 rule, the Pareto Principle, and examples of its use in real-life situations. You can also learn how to apply it in your own life to get the success you desire.


The Pareto Principle: History

Vilfredo Pareto (an Italian economist) noticed that only 80 percent of the pods he harvested from his garden came from 20 percent of the inputs.

Based on his observation, Pareto saw that 20% of Italians owned 80 percent of Italy’s wealth.

The Pareto Principle wasn’t invented by him, but by Dr. Joseph Juran. Juran used Pareto’s observations in his field of operations management in the 1940s. Juran helped businesses improve their production by pointing out that 20% of product defects could affect 80% of the production.

He used the Pareto analysis to focus on reducing that 20% of production problems in order to improve production quality.


Juran called this strategy “The Pareto Principle” and also popularized the idea that success should be based on the “vital few” rather than the “trivial many”.

What is the Pareto Principle?

The Pareto Principle, in simple terms, helps you decide which areas to concentrate your efforts.

You can use the 80/20 principle to determine which resources you need to be most efficient. This principle helps you save time, money, supplies, and your efforts, emotions, and energy.

We all wish we had more time to do the things we love. The 80-20 rule will help you to eliminate the unnecessary and focus on the 20% that will allow you to achieve maximum success in the shortest amount of time.

What is the 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 rule simply means “the law of the vital few”. It is a hierarchy of importance, where some tasks, time, or investments are more valuable than others.

Mathematically, the 80/20 rule can be followed by a power-law distribution for a specific set of parameters. Pareto found a pattern using the ratio 80/20. However, the principle can also be represented in other ratios such as 90/10, 60/40, etc.

The 80/20 rule’s most important feature is its ability to help you think differently about your goals and tasks. The 80/20 rule will help you prioritize what will bring you the greatest happiness and results. This will allow you to be more focused and, most importantly, help you manage one task at a given time. This will make a huge difference as humans aren’t as adept at multitasking as they think.

What does the 80/20 rule refer to?

Focus is everything.

Time is the currency that can be used to achieve great things. However, some people can use their time more effectively than others. Is it because they are able to accomplish more with their time than others?

We don’t focus on what we want, and we don’t concentrate our power. This is why so many people fail to achieve their true goals. This problem is easily explained and overcome by the 80-20 rule. Understanding the question, “What is the 80-20 rule?” will help you understand that high achievers do not have fewer obligations, more help from others, or greater luck. They are more focused.

Keller states that the moon can be reached if you prioritize everything and focus all your energy on the most important things. However, extraordinary success does not happen simultaneously.

How to use the 80-20 Rule

Without knowing what you want to be focusing on, you can’t make the 80-20 rule work for you. How can you eliminate all the noise and focus on the 20% that will make a huge difference in your life? This equation is: Priority + Purpose = Productivity.

Begin with your goal

Your purpose is the basis of everything you do in your life and your business. Ask yourself if you are making a decision or making a change. If you don’t know your purpose, you won’t be able to set goals and take action. It is that crucial.

Your purpose could include more time with family, freedom to live your life as you wish, or money to travel the globe. Your company vision is your purpose in business. It is the reason why you started your business. It’s what you want to make a difference in the world. You can think big when you use the 80-20 rule correctly.

Your priorities

It’s now time to be more specific. What is holding you back from living your life purpose? Perhaps you are ready to take the plunge and start your own company. Perhaps you are looking to save money to pay down a mortgage. You may be a leader in a business and need to create or find new efficiencies.

You can write and start five things today that will help you create the life you desire. Next, rank them according to how quickly they help you reach your goal. Your top priority – the most important – should be your first.

Make action items

But you’re not done. While priorities are great, they won’t get you to the finish line. You must set SMART goals. You can take steps to achieve specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and specific goals within a time frame. It would be best if you then held yourself accountable for them. These are the 20% of the 80-20 rule. They’re the actions you will spend most of your time on to get the best results.

80/20 Rule Examples. 

  • 80% of all problems are caused by 20% error projects.
  • 40% of distractions are derived from 60% of the sources.
  • 70% of customers use only 30% of the software features.
  • 90% of complaints are filed by 10% of users.
  • The first 20% of your effort will bring you 80% of the value.
  • 15% of emails are responsible for 85% of important conversations.
  • 20% of donors could donate 80% to your fundraising campaign.
  • 20% of the content you curate online could bring in 80% of your website’s visitors.
  • 20% of your sales reps will bring in 80% of your total sales.
  • 80% of total profits are attributed to 20% of customers.
  • 20% of workers will generate 80% of the revenues.

The POINT is to focus on the most important things, ideas, and efforts that will give you the best and most productive results in your other daily activities. This is called Optimization in Mathematics.

Benefits of the 80/20 Rule

It is normal to be cautious when you try a new operating philosophy in your daily life. The 80/20 rule is often more effective in areas such as:

  • Time management
  • Efficiency & productivity
  • Self-development
  • Financial problems can be fixed
  • Leadership

For example, you can use the 80/20 rule to better manage your time. Find out when that time is—the early morning after exercise—and focus your efforts there so you can get the most done in the shortest amount of time.

Another possibility is that 20% of your spending results in 80% satisfaction. It’s possible that you are spending money in ways that don’t add happiness to your life. Find out what 20% is, and then chuck the rest.

Read More: How to Increase Your Productivity at Work and at Home

Read More: Getting your brain to focus

Read More: How Cognitive Biases Influence How You Think And Act 

How the 80/20 Rule is often misunderstood.

  • 80 + 20 = 100 

People sometimes try to explain the 80/20 rule using a pie chart. The 20% portion of the pie chart is labeled, while the 80% is the remainder. Even though basic math skills will show that this adds up to 100%, the calculation is not what the rule is all about.

According to the 80/20 rule, 20% of the input will create 80% of the output. Outputs and inputs are not the same, so they can’t be combined in the same pie chart. If 55% of the inputs of your 24 hours could be used to give a very good and well-detailed project work in school, the 20% in the 80/20 rule could be referred to as the 55% from your 24 hours.

Do not get distracted by the numbers. Both 80 and 20 represent one type of uneven balance.

  • Eliminating the 80% 

One argument against the 80/20 Rule I have heard is this: “If the 80/20 rule is applied, eliminating the wasteful 20%; eventually, you will end up with nothing.” These people felt clever because they used a literal, mathematical interpretation.

Again, the numbers are not that important. However, the actual applications are much less mathematical. You won’t complete every task if you only have a short time. It would be best to look at all the tasks you normally do, set your priorities, and take action. This is called the 80/20 rule. Focus on the 20% that produces the best results for you according to your priorities. You can spend the time you have left on the less productive 80%.


Many people need the 80-20 rule to improve their productivity. It will help you focus on the most important things in your life and allow you to prioritize them.

It will maximize your output and save you time.

The Pareto Principle – 80/20 Rule – Do More by Doing Less
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