The 80/20 Rule in Time Management

Known as the Pareto Principle, but commonly as the 80/20 Rule, it is an aphorism which asserts that 80% of results or outcomes (or outputs) are consequent from 20% of all efforts (or inputs) for any event.

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, states that for many occurrences, 80% of the result is from 20% of the effort inputted. The principle was named after an Italian economist- Vilfredo Pareto who noticed that about 80% of Italy’s land belonged to 20% of the country’s population.

Although the Pareto principle primarily referred to the distribution of wealth, it can and has been applied to a wide variety of contexts, such as taxation, business, project management, technology etc.

It also comes in handy in the context of time-management.


Once you realize that 80% of your outcomes come from 20% of the time and effort you spend on them, the importance of prioritizing becomes obvious.

Hypothetically speaking,

If you have 20 tasks on your to-do list with each of being equally time-consuming, your efficiency  can be boosted by identifying and completing 4 top-priority tasks first. If you don’t manage to do all the remaining tasks, then the 20% you completed could amount to up to 80% of the impact.

This approach can furthered be applied practically in the case of a freelance web designer who starts working on a new project. It could be more impactful to deliver five website concepts (20%) for a client to choose from than a single fully functional website

Thanks to incorporating Pareto’s principle into your time-management strategy you can maximize your efficiency by limiting the amount of time you spend doing something. This is especially beneficial for executives and managers who can fall back on Pareto’s principle to decide which tasks they want to tackle (i.e. the crucial 20%) and which ones to delegate (the remaining 80%).


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