The 80/20 Rule is one of the most helpful of all concepts of time and life management. It’s also called the Pareto Principle after its founder, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who first wrote about it in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in his society seemed to divide naturally into what he called the “vital few,” the top 20% in terms of money and influence, and the “trivial many,” the bottom 80%.

Back in 1906, Vilfredo Pareto learned that 80% of Italy’s wealth was held by only 20% of the people. Then one day, after examining his garden, he also realized that 20% of his pea pods accounted for 80% of his pea crop yield that year. Was there a lesson here? This got him thinking, and not long after, the “Pareto Principle” was established. With the same preciseness, this same principle can be applied to personal and professional life.

He later discovered that virtually all economic activity was subject to this Pareto Principle as well. For example, this rule says that:

20 % of your activities will account for 80% of your results.

20% of your customers will account for 80% of your sales.

20% of your products or services will account for 80% of your profits.

20% of your tasks will account for 80% of the value of what you do

We send about 80% of our emails to 20% of the people in our address book. We wear 20% of our clothes, our favorite outfits, more than 80% of the time. In business, 80% of profits come from 20 % of customers and 20% of products.

The key to making the 80/20 Principle work for you is focus. In every area of your life you can work out the few things that are really important to you and the few methods that give you what you want. You can divide everything around you and everything you do into two piles.

This means that if you’ve a list of ten items to do, two of those items will turn out to be worth as much or more than the other eight items put together.

Time management is really life management, personal management. It’s really taking control over the sequence of events. Time management is control over what you do next. And you’re always free to choose the task that you’ll do next. Your ability to choose between the important and the unimportant is the key determinant of your success in life. Effective and productive people discipline themselves to start on the most important task that’s before them. Brian Tracy calls it forcing themselves to eat that frog, whatever it is. As a result, they accomplish vastly more than the average person and are much happier as a result.

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