The 80/20 Rule Explained and How To Use It (Plus Examples)

You can use the 80/20 rule to prioritize the tasks that you need to get done during the day. The idea is that out of your entire task list, completing 20% of those tasks will result in 80% of the impact you can create for that day.

Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was born in Italy in 1848. He would later develop into a significant philosopher and economist. According to legend, he discovered one day that only 20% of his garden’s pea plants produced 80% of the healthy pea pods. This observation caused him to think about uneven distribution. When he considered wealth, he learned that only 20% of the population in Italy owned 80% of the country’s land. He looked into various industries and discovered that only 20% of businesses typically accounted for 80% of production. The generalization became:

I conducted interviews with hundreds of self-made millionaires, straight-A students, and even Olympic athletes for my study on the productivity practices of high achievers. They find it impossible to complete any task that is given to them, let alone any task that they would like to complete. To help them decide what is of the utmost importance, they employ Pareto Then, they delegate the rest, or simply let it go.

If you are an executive, you undoubtedly constantly struggle with the problem of scarce resources. You must make the most of your team’s time as a whole, not just your own. A Pareto approach is to genuinely understand which projects are most important rather than attempting the impossible. What are the most crucial objectives of your company or boss, and which particular tasks must you concentrate on to meet those objectives? Delegate or drop the rest.

The temptation to try something novel and exciting is always there if you’re an entrepreneur. Nothing fundamentally wrong with that, but it comes down to what you want to achieve. Would adopting an 80/20 mindset help you focus on your strategic plan and spend less time pursuing never-ending new opportunities if you were looking to expand your current business?

Whatever your circumstance, it’s critical to keep in mind that there are only a finite number of minutes in an hour, hours in a day, and days in a week. Pareto can assist you in realizing this is a good thing, as doing otherwise would make you a slave to a never-ending to-do list.

The 80/20 Rule – What is it?

The benefits of using the 80/20 rule

You can use the 80/20 rule to determine where the majority of your time, money, or effort should be invested. By following the 80/20 rule, you can set realistic goals, specify how you’ll get there, and keep your attention on the things that will have the biggest impact. Here are just a few benefits the 80/20 rule provides:

You can plan your day so that your attention is directed toward the tasks that will have the biggest effects on your work by identifying the tasks that produce the most results.

The 80/20 rule can help you find time to socialize with your team, act as a mentor, and look for other opportunities to foster teamwork and trust if you want to develop your leadership abilities.

Better use of company resources

What is the 80/20 rule?

According to the statistical principle known as the “80/20 rule,” roughly 20% of causes account for about 80% of results. Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, discovered that 20% of Italians owned 80% of the nation’s wealth, and he published his findings on wealth distribution in 1895.

Since Pareto’s discoveries, various academics have utilized his 80/20 rule of cause and effect, also referred to as the “Pareto principle,” to a range of circumstances aside from wealth distribution, including business principles and professional development. For instance, in business, it is frequently stated that 20% of clients account for 80% of sales.

The Pareto principle may be present in other ratios that are similar to 80/20, such as 70/30, 75/25, or 85/15. These numbers indicate that a high percentage of results are influenced or produced by a low percentage of causes.

When to use the 80/20 rule

There are numerous ways to implement the 80/20 rule at work. The following examples show how to analyze success and improvement factors and maximize efforts to achieve results by applying the 80/20 rule.

Business management

The 80/20 rule has many benefits for business, especially in terms of streamlining the business model so that you can invest in the resources, such as people, systems, and products, that will yield the highest returns.

For instance, Ben is the proprietor of a small business that has become more well-known in the last year. Ben uses the 80/20 rule to determine how to run his restaurant’s hours and finds that just under 15% of those hours generate 85% of the business. His peak hours, according to this 15%, are from 7 p m. and 9 p. m. Ben decides to extend his dinner service by one hour in order to possibly boost sales during the busiest times.

Career development

You can use the 80/20 rule to focus your job search, look for opportunities that will have the biggest impact, and develop a strong professional network.

For instance, Tanya, a marketing expert, recently returned to work after spending four years as a stay-at-home mother. She hopes to land a job that combines her knowledge of market analysis with her passion for organic baby products. Tanya follows the 80/20 rule in her job search, spending 80% of her time looking for and applying for market research jobs for businesses that focus on infant wellness and 20% of her time doing the same for other marketing jobs in different sectors of the economy.

Tanya uses this approach to streamline her job search activities that are pertinent to her desired career path while maintaining an open mind to other positions that may present opportunities.


To determine which tasks have the biggest impact and to maximize your productivity for the best results, apply the 80/20 rule. Schedule your time, finish important tasks, establish reasonable deadlines, and sharpen your focus by applying the Pareto principle.

For example: Jolene works from home as a medical coder. Despite having the option to set her own hours, she frequently stays late to meet deadlines. The 80/20 rule is used by Jolene to determine which 25% of her daily tasks account for 75% of her weekly workload. She gives the most important tasks 75% of her attention each day, which enhances her ability to manage her time and meet pressing deadlines.

Customer relations

You can determine the best way to interact with customers and comprehend how they affect your business by using the Pareto Principle in customer relations.

Abby, a hairstylist, is one example who wants to increase her clientele. She applies the 80/20 rule to find that 20% of her current clients referred 80% of her new clients. Abby uses this word-of-mouth marketing technique and gives clients discounts in exchange for referring people to make appointments with her. She can use this strategy to boost her earnings, enhance her rapport with clients, and devote more of her time to learning new styling techniques.

The 80/20 rule can help you structure your time and efforts more efficiently, boosting your business strategy or personal productivity. This idea can help you become more organized and effective at managing your time, which will help you become a more competitive applicant for jobs and a valuable employee at work. As you advance in your career, think about applying the 80/20 rule to pinpoint areas you can improve.

How to use the 80/20 rule

Follow these steps to apply the 80/20 rule to your personal goals:


What is the 80/20 rule in problem solving?

It is based on the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule, which holds that up to 20% of causes can account for as much as 80% of problems. Prior to using Pareto Analysis, make a list of all the issues you are currently experiencing along with their underlying causes.

Is the 80/20 rule a good thing?

The 80/20 rule allows you to examine your objectives and tasks in a variety of ways, which is what I find most intriguing. You’ll start by focusing on the things that will bring you the most happiness and results. You’ll be able to focus and, more importantly, handle one task at a time thanks to this.

What causes the 80/20 rule?

The Pareto Principle, named after economist Vilfredo Pareto, states that an unequal relationship exists between inputs and outputs and that 80% of consequences result from 20% of the causes. This idea serves as a general reminder that inputs and outputs do not always have an equal relationship.

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