Knowledge and Learning

In the late 1800’s, an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto observed that, in Italy, a small group of people held nearly all the power, influence, and money, which they used to create a significant advantage over the rest of the population.

He theorized that, in most countries, about 80 percent of the wealth and power was controlled by about 20 percent of the people.  He called this a “predictable imbalance,” which eventually became known as the 80:20 rule.

Over the 1900’s, researchers realized that the theory of a “vital few and trivial many” — 20 percent of the participants accounting for 80 percent of the results — applies across many fields of expertise.

Most certainly, it is true when it comes to time investment, and here’s what that means to you:

  • 80 percent of your results will be generated by 20 percent of your efforts. Conversely, 20 percent of your results will be generated by 80 percent of your efforts.
  • You can increase the productivity that results from your time investment by assessing which activities achieve the highest-quality results. Too many people allow their time to be consumed by activities that generate a mere 20 percent of their outcome. The moment they shift their time investment into higher, more productive activities, they see dramatic results in income, happiness and satisfaction.

The 80:20 rule holds true across a spectrum of life activities.  Whether you’re investing in your career, relationships, health, wealth, or personal development, 20 percent of your efforts will deliver 80 percent of the results you seek. The secret is to learn which activities deliver the highest-quality returns and invest your time accordingly.

I’ve learned that an hour spent with Melissa, or with our team, our kids and our family, gives them such joy and contributes greatly to our relationships. It’s a minor time investment, clearly fitting into the 20 percent category, yet the results are significant in proportion.

Do you make time for the few activities that return the most significant results?

Or are you, like most people in the world, giving your time to the time-gobbling 80 percent of activities that deliver a meager result?