The Secret to Achieve More with Less Effort
By Dr. Robert Anthony
The 80/20 Principle, like the truth, can set you free. You can work less. At the same time, you can earn more and enjoy more. The only price is that you need to do some serious 80/20 thinking.
We’ve all been exposed to the 80/20 Principle at some point in our lives: The principle states, quite simply, that 20% of efforts lead to 80% of results. Whether you know it as the “Pareto Principle” or the “Principle of Least Effort,” it’s an incredibly powerful concept.
80/20 thinking requires, and with practice, enables us to spot the few really important things that are happening and ignore the mass of unimportant things.
It was 1897 when Alfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, was studying wealth and income distribution in 19th Century England. During the course of his studies, he discovered that the majority of land and income was controlled by a minority of the population. In fact, 20% of the population controlled 80% of the wealth and income.
On further analysis he found that this principle held true not only in different countries and different time periods, but also in contexts such as his garden— where he discovered that 20% of his peapods yielded 80% of the peas that were harvested!
Since Pareto identified the trend, many researchers have been busy pointing out some additional modern applications.
- 20% of criminals account for 80% of crime
- 20% of motorists account for 80% of accidents
- 20% of married individuals account for 80% of divorces
- 20% of your carpet probably gets 80% of the wear
- 20% of streets account for 80% of the traffic
- 20% of product flaws account for 80% of problems
- 20% of clients usually account for 80% of profits
- 20% of clothes in your closet are worn 80% of the time
- 20% of beer drinkers drink 80% of the beer
OK, I’m done for now. Your job, however, has just begun.
Keep Reading to find out how to apply the 80/20 principle in your life…
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Look around you. See where you spend your time.
See where you get your results. Is it 50/50 or more like 80/20?
The next logical question is clearly, “OK, so how does this apply to me?”
If 20% of what we do leads to 80% of the results and 80% of what we do leads to only 20%, we are wasting 80% of our time on low-value outcomes.
In applying the 80/20 Principle to creating your ideal life you have to know what you want.
- What do you absolutely LOVE to do?
- What comes to you effortlessly?
- With whom would you love to spend your time?
- What would you be doing throughout the day?
- How much would you make?
- Where would you live?
- Would you like to do what you want whenever you want, or would you like to have a boss telling you what you can do when?
When we have a handle on what we want, we can start to look at whether what we have and what we’re doing matches up with these ideals. AND, do something about it!
It is important to focus on what you find easy. This is where most personal development teachers and writers go wrong. They assume you should try things that are difficult for you.”
Martin Seligman says this in his classic Authentic Happiness: “I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.”
Pursue those few things where you are amazingly better than others and that you enjoy the most. So, what are you amazingly better than others at?
Now that we’re getting some traction on what you’re most passionate about, let’s take a quick peek at the people with whom you’ll be sharing this joyous life!
Relationships help us to define who we are and what we can become. Most of us can trace our successes to pivotal relationships.
News flash: 20% of your friends/loved ones probably account for 80% of your enjoyment and satisfaction. How about you? How does it look for you?
Might sound harsh, but why wouldn’t you spend a lot more time with the group that gives you so much pleasure and a lot less time with the other?
Get out a piece of paper you can immediately burn afterwards 🙂 and write down the names of your top 20 friends and loved ones–the people with whom you have the most important relationships–ranked from most to least important.
Got it? Good. Next step: You have 100 points. Allocate them to the different people according to how much value they give you in your life relative to one another. You may need more than one pass at the numbers to get them to 100. (And, what you’re likely to find is that around 4 of the people (2 0%) give you 80% of your joy.)
Next to the enjoyment numbers, write down how much time you spend with each person such that the total time comes to 100.
Got it? What’d you come up with? Are you spending far less than 80% of your time with the 20% who give you so much joy?
The action implications should be plain. Go for quality rather than quantity. Spend your time and emotional energy reinforcing and deepening the relationships that are most important.
At one time I had a mentor and he gave me this advice. “Never read a book from cover to cover, except for pleasure. Read the conclusion, then the introduction, then the conclusion again, then dip lightly into any interesting bits. Doing this you can gain more knowledge much faster than you would by reading through”.
How do you read a book? Do you go from cover to cover? Why? You’re wasting a lot of time. 80% of the valuable content can be found in 20% of the book…and absorbed in 20% of the time it takes most people to read the entire book.
Several years ago, I taught the 80/20 principle to a friend’s 10-year¬old daughter who was struggling in school. She learned to read the conclusions, check out the graphs and charts and pictures and leading questions, and then read and mind map the content. Her C’s went to A’s in about a month and a half.
And, more importantly, she liked herself and learned a lot more.
80/20 is all about focusing your energy.
Well, what are you waiting for? Apply the 80/20 Principle to everything in your life and notice how quickly thing will change for you and how easy it is to create your ideal life!
“ Great work you are doing here Kristen. I love your work and love this site. Very inspiring ideas that you always share I am impressed. Thanks so much.” – Greg
Here’s a fun way to start to embrace the 80/20 rule in your life…
Ask yourself this power question for each area of your life…
“What would I love to spend 80% of my energy in (area of your life you want to focus on)?”
Here’s the beauty of this power question – it opens up our imaginations and true desires!