The Pareto principle: Create more results with less effort!

Written by Harish Rao on Wednesday, 22 March 2017. Posted in Career and business, Life management


Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian engineer, sociologist was the father of the Pareto principle, now also known as the 80/20 rule. Pareto observed that 80% of income in Italy went to 20% of the population. Pareto later carried out surveys in some other countries and found to his surprise that a similar distribution applied.

Joseph Juran, engineer, and management consultant, who is widely known as the father of quality management applied this principle to mainly quality issues. However, in recent times, this principle is being used for almost all aspects of life. For example:

  1. 80% of customer complaints arise from 20% of products and services.
  2. 20% of your products and services and products account for 80% of your profit.
  3. 20% of your sales force produces 80% of your revenues.

The value of the Pareto principle is that it reminds you to focus on the 20% of the things that matter. That 20% produces 80% of your results. Although it's a rule of thumb, this principle is used to plan your time and efforts. For example, in your specific company or line of business, the results may be skewed as 70%-30%.

In recent times, this general rule is being applied as a rule of thumb in people's personal lives. For example, it has been found that 20% of your productivity generates 80% of your results. This means that if you can identify the 20% that gives you results you will maximize productivity.

Unfortunately, on a personal level, this also means that you spend only 20% of your time with influencers. These influencers actually help you with 80% of your life goals. However, human tendencies are such that we don't fall exactly under sociological principles frequently as our heart (so-called) rebels against these principles.

So, imagine if we can use this principle in our lives to

  1. Work smarter and not harder.
  2. Better our relationships
  3. Better our productivity
  4. Better our control over our personal and professional lives

I recommend you read the following books that elaborate on the 80/20 principle in our modern lives.

  1. The 4 hour work week by Timothy Ferris
  2. Time Rich by Jamie McIntyre

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