Increasing productivity is the goal of every business, yet oftentimes we spend way much time on a certain task and realize that we’ve accomplished little. That’s really depressing. The Pareto Principle can help you get the best of your productivity from just your little effort. Here’s what to do.
Related media: The 80/20 Rule — What Is It?
The 80/20 Rule
You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule or better yet still the Pareto Principle; it states that 20 percent of your actions will produce 80 percent of your productivity. This concept was first made famous by Italian philosopher and economist Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto in 1895. The rule claims nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your efforts on a limited set of goals.
It is believed that Pareto peeked at his pea garden one fateful day and witnessed that about 20 percent of the crops in the garden had yielded 80 percent of healthy pea pods. He later observed the whole of Italy and again witnessed that roughly 20 percent of Italians own 80 percent of the land and resources in the country; as against the 80 percent of people who own just 20 percent of the land and resources. That’s how the Pareto Principle was born.
The underlying lesson of this principle — also known as “law of the vital few” — is that input does not always equal output. The principle says that 20 percent of your activities would account for 80 percent of your results. If you have a list of ten items to do, two of them will be valuable, if not more valuable, than the other eight items. One of your key responsibilities is to constantly analyze your tasks to be certain that you’re actually working on the top 20 percent.
Taking Eighty Out Of Twenty
How does the 80/20 rule manifest itself in your every day life. Here are a few scenarios:
- 20 percent of your home is where you spend 80 percent of your time.
- 20 percent of your wardrobe is worn 80 percent of the time.
- 20 percent of your employees generate 80 percent of your productivity.
- 20 percent of your customers create 80 percent of your revenue.
- 20 percent of technological bugs cause 80 percent of the crashes.
- 20 percent of your apps account for 80 percent of your smartphone time.
The secret behind the Pareto Principle is that your benefits lies in how well you can identify the 20 percent and 80 percent in the tasks you’re working on. But it isn’t always 80/20 right up. If 80 percent of your employees do literally nothing, for instance, then that means 20 percent of your office staff are doing 100 percent of the work. The key thing to remember is that most things in life are not distributed equally. No need to get too attached to particular numbers; 80/20 is just a rough guideline based on typical distribution.
Its The Little Things That Count
Now, let’s do some hypothetical business with this rule:
Let’s assume that you’re a CEO and you notice that 20 percent of your employees account for 80 percent of your productivity, make a point to reward those employees. If you’re a software engineer and you notice that 20 percent of the bugs in your app results in 80 percent of all malfunctions, prioritize fixing those bugs first. If you’re a shop retailer and you notice that only 20 percent of your customers contribute 80 percent of revenue, focus on satisfying those customers first.
There are more hypothetical scenarios, but the key point is that you should focus your attention on the 20 percent that makes a difference, rather than the 80 percent that doesn’t add much. If that makes sense, you can delegate non-critical stuff to someone else, or just drop it altogether.
- Instead of employing a lot of unskilled personnel, focus on employing a few highly skilled personnel who can work efficiently.
- Instead of writing a program from scratch which could take much time, focus on reprogramming the original code and correct the errors.
- Instead of serving all your customers all the time, shortlist all your regular customers and provide a special package service for them.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Jan 26, 2019.