Applying the 80/20 Principle in Your Life

The 80/20 rule (or Pareto’s Principle) can have an incredible impact on your life. When this you apply this principle, you’ll discover a dramatic increase in your success and happiness.

In this post, I’m going to talk about the 80/20 principle. Specifically I’m going to talk about different ways I’m using it in my life.

What is the 80/20 Principle?

The 80/20 rule is a principle created by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. This is a mathematical formula he used to describe the unequal distribution of wealth. Pareto observed that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth.

While at first Pareto’s principle was used in economics, it’s now been shown to be true in a number of other areas—including personal development.

For instance, it’s commonly known that 80% of your outcomes come from 20% of your efforts. In other words, you only spend a small amount of time on the actions which bring you the best results in life.

How Can the 80/20 Rule Apply to You?

Why is the 80/20 rule important? You use it to simplify your life and help you move towards peak performance.

The idea here is to examine every area of your life and find out what actions/relationships are creating the most success. Then you decide which actions/relationships are holding you back. Once the two are separated, you eliminate the bad and duplicate the good.

This is definitely an oversimplified definition of the 80/20 principle. The thing to remember is to examine your life and remove what’s holding you back from happiness and success.

As an example, this past month I used Pareto’s Principle to examine different aspects of my life.

Here’s what I discovered:

80/20 in My Online Businesses

Information Product– Currently I have 300+ affiliates promoting my information product. Unfortunately only three are bringing in 90% of my sales.

Once I realized this, I decided to stop going after “low-end” affiliates. Instead I created a list of attributes that the ‘big 3’ share and started contacting people who fit this profile.

Web Traffic– There are hundreds of different ways you can drive traffic to a website—and I’ve tried them all.

After analyzing the traffic that comes to my online business, I determined that only two methods were producing real results. Since then, I’ve decided to concentrate on just the two. This has now freed up a lot of the time that I spend on my websites.

Affiliate Marketing Tasks– There are a number of critical, but time consuming tasks I need to do for my affiliate marketing business. So I’ve made the decision to stop being a micro-manager. Instead I’ve outsourced (or systemized) about 95% of my affiliate business. It now runs with very little supervision.

80/20 in My Daily Activities

I’ve come to realize that I have a number of small habits that are complete wastes of time. To improve my life, I’ve decided to eliminate these low value activities.

These habits include watching television, surfing the Internet, playing any video game, and spending time with people who bring zero value in my life.

When I applied the 80/20 rule, I was really shocked at how much time I wasted doing things which did nothing to help me grow as a person. So it was pretty easy to get rid of these activities.

80/20 in My Romantic Relationship

Here’s the part where you might think I’m too clinical with this principle…

Like I said, I’ve done a lot of soul searching this past month. At the end, I realized that 99.9% of my unhappiness was caused by the relationship with my girlfriend.

And after careful deliberation, I’ve decided to end this relationship. To be honest, this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Especially since I once thought she was “The One.”

Again, I know this sounds a bit clinical (or cold), but I’ve come to realize that this one relationships was a major source of negativity in my life. So while I still love and care for this girl, I’ve learned that we’ll both be happier in the long-term if we moved on.

How Do YOU Use the 80/20 Principle?

Hopefully you got something from the personal examples I gave about the 80/20 rule. I wanted to show that it can be applied in many different areas of your life—Not just in your business.

The benefit of applying the Pareto’s Principle is you can identify peak experiences. These are the activities which bring the most success and fulfillment. Then all you have to do is eliminate the things that are holding you back and concentrate on doing more of the quality activities.

I’ll leave you with a few different questions you can use to examine the different areas in your life:

  • What tasks in your job bring the best results?
  • Which personal relationships provide the most fulfillment?
  • What activities and hobbies make you the happiest?
  • Do you have mundane activities that can be delegated or outsourced?
  • Are there negative experiences which prevent you from happiness?

Applying the 80/20 principle can have an incredible impact on your professional and personal life. Once you start using it, you’ll discover you can get more out of each and every day.

Take Action. Get Results.

9 thoughts on “Applying the 80/20 Principle in Your Life”

  1. Noticed this post via twitter.

    Anyway, I love the 80/20 principle! I’m a stickler for efficiency and want to get everything done as quickly and as correctly as possible. Applying the 80/20 principle to literally anything you do removes the clutter and allows you to focus on what’s truly important, so you can do more with less effort.

  2. Hi Steve,

    I have loved the 80/20 Principle since reading Richard Koch’s great book. Since then I have started my own time management revolution at my work with some surprising results. As I move to self employment I will definately be referring back to this post for inspiration.

    • Awesome Brenton!!

      I can never say enough about managing time, the 80/20 principle and efficiency. I wouldn’t say I am actually an EXPERT, but I really do appreciate doing those things and streamlining processes as much as possible.

  3. I have used the pareto principle to improved my recent work activities. Now, I am very focused on the tasks that will move me forward towards my dreams. Along the way, I have discarded many bad habits. I no longer watch television except when my children watches. This is to monitor their TV time. I no longer play computer games. I no longer have long lunches. Everything has become very focused.

    You mentioned that you used the pareto principle on your two greatest traffic generation strategies. Can you share a bit more on these two and how you go about doing them for best effects?


    • Jimmy,

      I wrote that article about 9 months to a year ago, I actually don’t remember exactly what I meant. I think it may have been Twitter and Blog commenting, which I have noticed a fair amount of direct results from. But I am not sure if those were the too. Opinions can shift somewhat over time, but those are two I am still high on, even if I think others are worth of some effort now.

      But even within the traffic strategies it it wise to use 80/20. For instance I keep a list of the sites I comment on. “dofollow” blogs get more attention from me. Because they give juice. I still will comment on non dofollow blogs but less frequently and if I notice a lot of traffic (or links) coming from someone I pay more attention. Of course building relationships etc. stands outside this, but still you have to do something when you have a list of 300+ places to “drop by” you cant comment on every blog every day after all. That gets as bad as watching TV

      • Hey Steve,

        Thanks. I am aware that this post was written long ago.

        Could you tell me what exactly should we do on Twitter to have the best effects. Currently I just retweet posts I like and reply to people’s direct messages to me. There is actually a lot of activities on the twitter bar. How can we follow everything?

        Ok this thing about dofollow site – how do we know if our own site are already dofollow? How do we know if others’ sites are dofollow?

        • Jimmy,

          Ok, gotcha. I think you have seen my post where I go over a lot of how i feel about gaining twitter. (just linked that in case)

          But anyhow… To me Twitter is a pain in the butt, because I think it is inefficient, but it also is effective. So it is something I am constantly torn with. To get ahead you need to do all that you do…plus some more. And find a way to do all that (in my personal opinion) without spending all day tweeting.

          There needs to be a personal touch. Like you do with emails. Not only retweet, but comment in return. Interact and all that stuff. The people who do really well at it, spend way to much time on twitter, in my opinion. But they might say that I spend too much time commenting. (and they may be right) But there has to bee some of that personal touch.

          One way to do this is to use something like marketmesuite or hootsuite. You want to keep track of “lists” and people retweeting you. You may still miss a bunch, but this will allow you to come in for 20 minutes a day, reply and join a few conversations. It can also be good to start a few conversations. Perhaps ask a question. Put out a bit of wisdom or just converse. OR even just give and update for what you are doing for the day.

          Of course a lot of this stuff are things that i do not even take the time to do all the time myself…but i know I should. Hope that all helps. For a start I would say get marketmesuite, Hootsuite, or…..(can;t remember the other big organizer name) and play around with them (you only need to use one…they work off the same idea) I am sure you can see some videos or to show you how to use them to your best advantage.


        • Just noticed the 2nd half of your question. You are dofollow. (I don’t think you used to be) You can tell by looking at the “source” data on your page. Your < a tags will have an attribute saying "nofollow" for any nofollow links. If it says is dofollow. Even easier, though, are using addons. They will parse that data for you. I have a firefox add-on I use called "nodofollow". When I have it turned on all dofollow links show up with blue shading around them and all nofollow links show up with red around them. Nice and obvious. I am sure there are similar programs if you use IE or Chrome or any other browser. I believe "SEO Quake" also has a similar part to that as part of it. But I haven't turned my SEO quake on in a long while.

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