The Pareto Principle

You may have noticed that I didn’t send out my regular correspondence last week. Nothing happened, to be honest, I forgot. With Friday being a public holiday, I slept in and went about my day without the usual routine. It wasn’t until I eased into bed that night when I realised. Fortunately, the world didn’t burn down and the sun still came up on Saturday morning. I can imagine there’s probably a lesson here somewhere…

This week I want to talk about the Pareto Principle. Also known as the 80/20 rule.

There’s no doubt you’ve heard of it somewhere along the journey. I’m not going to spend too long explaining it. If you want to know more about it you can hit this link and enjoy plenty of wiki goodness.

Basically, this principle states that for many events, roughly 80% of the results will come from 20% of the effort. On the flip side, the last 20% of results, will consume 80% of the effort.

I find this fascinating. As someone who is always trying to do more with less, and help others do the same, being able to truly utilise the golden 20% to build a bigger container is a path worth journeying down.

We are fundamentally taught that the more effort we put in, the more benefits we will reap. Yet if we understand the unequal distribution of the Pareto Principle, we can quickly see that that effort may be better spent on the areas of our lives which will yield the greatest results.

A quick google search can point you in the direction of all of the business and economic examples of the 80/20 rule. But what about in daily life? How does the Pareto Principle show itself day-to-day?

Here are a couple of examples I came up with:

I frequent approximately 5 coffee shops regularly – Flock, VMM, Coffee Traders, Ol’Mate and Commonfolk. But I spend the majority of my time at Commonfolk.

Of the 10 pairs of shoes that I can count at our front door, in my office and in the car, there are 2 pairs which I have been wearing for the last few months.

A regular week at Virtus sees me coaching approx 20-25% of my week, with the rest of the time spent trying to grow and improve our business, and of course drinking coffee. I have no doubt that I would waste 80% of this ‘non-coaching’ time piss farting around and putting the important things off.

When I socialise, the majority of the time it is spent with the same people. This group of people would make up approximately 20% of the people I would consider close friends, but I spend most of my social time with them.

A quick look into my iPhone app usage shows that approximately 80% of my time, is spent on 20% of my apps. (Mail, Medium, Netflix, Facebook and Instagram)

Of all the games of Fifa I play at Virtus, I would win 80% of them… easy. (edit: Coop wins 5%, Mitch 5% and the Phys 10%).

Now that you’re convinced the 80/20 Rule is actually a thing, I’ve had a stab at how you can utilise this principle to improve certain areas of your life.

If you are looking to make a change to your health and fitness… What are the actions you can take to give you the best chance at success? Is it looking after your sleep, optimising your training, or tipping into your diet? I can guess that you probably don’t need to be spending more time training. Give yourself the extra sleep, nail 80% of your nutrition, and ensure that your training is actually moving you forward.

What about work? If you own a business or work in one… Do you think that If you took a stocktake as to how you spend your 168 hours each week, you may find some wasted time? By utilising the 80/20 rule you could write a list of all of the actions you take each week, highlight the ones that truly move the needle and focus on them.

For those of us in a relationship, we can use the Pareto Principle to appreciate all we love about our partner. No one is perfect, and I bet if you stop and think about it, the person that you choose to spend your time with is probably about 80% perfect for you. Focus on the 80 and don’t waste your time fretting over the 20% that may cause you to fight and bump heads. (Side note: the 20% difference could be a good thing).

If you are a parent or a leader in a team environment, what are the actions or activities which garner real connection and companionship? Rather than focus on what doesn’t work, hone in on the things that make you feel connected.

If you’re looking for your thing or trying to find your place in this world, identify the things you love to do, and become aware of those that do not bring you joy.

Regardless of who you are, and what you do, you have a finite amount of time on this earth and energy to give. Stop peeking over the fence and believing that the grass is greener elsewhere. Focus 20% of your energy on watering the grass beneath your feet, and utilise the other 80% to chase the things that you love.


Below: Last week was our second annual Barbells and Beers. A big bravo to all that attended, it was a ripper afternoon and the PB bell was given a serious workout! For access to the photos click here.

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