The 80/20 Rule You Should Follow for Increased Productivity

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with Pete Mockaitis on Episode 120 on the podcast to talk all about a few ways that we can organize our time so that we feel like we’re using it to the best of our advantage when we sit down to work each day… And if you haven’t had a chance to check out our conversation, I want to encourage you to do so, because he had some really great tips on boosting our productivity!

For those of you who are not familiar with Pete, I am happy to introduce you to him and a little bit of his background here. Pete Mockaitis is an award-winning coach who helps professionals perform optimally at work. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, and he has been a coach to over 700 leaders across the business world, including members from organizations like Google, FedEx, Amazon, Apple, to name a few.

Not only that, but Pete also hosts his own podcast called How to be Awesome at Your Job, which is another great resource if you’re in the market for productivity and other job-coaching tips!

So naturally, I was excited to sit down with Pete and talk about something near and dear to my heart… which, of course, as you all know, is productivity and how we can improve upon it whether we’re talking about what we have going on at home or at the office.

And guess what? He had a great productivity-boosting tip to share on Episode 120 that I am going to focus on here today, because it lines up perfectly with our new season of Productivity Paradox which is all about bending time and making sure that we own our time instead of allowing ourselves to think that time is owning us!

Let’s get started!

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule is something that I’ve heard of and have implemented in my own day-to-day at the studio, but for those of you who have not heard of it before, I want to talk about what the 80/20 rule is just a bit and explain how it came about.

Now, the 80/20 rule is nothing new… It was actually discovered by a man named Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, hundreds of years ago, but it still works in today’s world in terms of productivity.

As Pareto observed Italian economics and even land ownership, he noticed an interesting ratio popping up time and time again. To him, it seemed that often 80% of results (outputs) came from 20% of causes (inputs). As it related to land ownership, this meant that he observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by just 20% of the population of people… which seems like a huge percentage when compared to the percentage of land, right?

For more of the story behind Pareto’s discovery of the 80/20 rule, be sure to tune in to the podcast but for the sake of time here, let’s focus in on how the 80/20 rule translates into our world today.

In a nutshell, the 80/20 rule essentially means that about 80% of the results that you get come from about 20% of the work (time or energy) that you put in.


Examples of the 80/20 Rule in Life Today


For better understanding of Pareto’s discovery, we can also look at the 80/20 rule in the following examples:

Sales – 80% of profit comes from 20% of your clients

Work Hazards – 80% of work-related injuries come from 20% of work hazards

Crime – 80% of crime is committed by 20% of criminals

Relationships – 80% of your relational happiness comes from 20% of your relationships

Your Wardrobe – 80% of the clothes you wear come from 20% of your wardrobe

…And so on!

Now that we have a better idea of the 80/20 rule in action, let’s take a look at how we can use the 80/20 rule to boost our productivity in life, both at home and at work.


How to Use the 80/20 Rule


Identify Your Vital Few—

This is especially important in the business world, but it can also extend to your personal life as well. The Vital Few, as Pete talks about on Episode 120, is essentially that 20% that we’ve highlighted in the previous examples. In terms of what you have on your task list, this would be the few items that you expect to yield the greatest impact on your productivity at the end of the day.

To help with identifying yours in all arenas of your life, think of the areas in your life where there is an imbalance of results (that is, where you would like to see a change). Consider some of the main “life categories” here, such as: your relationships, career, health, personal development, leisure time, and so on.

For some more help, I’ve got a link for you to download your free copy of the helpful spreadsheet that Pete was gracious enough to share with us on the episode this week! Just head down to the Resource and Links section on the episode page to grab yours.


Take Action—

Take a look at your vital few and make a list of all the key goals, activities, big projects and responsibilities that you have going on in your life today. Which of the tasks related to those key goals do you foresee as being in the top 10-20% of tasks that think represent 80-90% of your results?

Give yourself permission to spend more of your time working in those few areas that can make a difference in your life (and even in your career!), and less time on activities that are of lesser value or importance to you.


For more insight into the 80/20 Rule, be sure to tune in to Episode 120 to listen in on my conversation with Pete Mockaitis… and tell me, if you’re familiar with the 80/20 rule, what are some of the ways that you have made it work for you at home or at work? Share your experiences in the comments below!


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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton