The 80 20 Rule

Today I was listening to an audio lesson on the 80/20 rule.  You know, the 20% of the people do 80% of the work concept.

In my experience I have found this rule to be pretty much true to life.  Granted the percentages may be off a little and this isn’t a math lesson or a post about absolutes.   Mainly though, as a rule most people are lazy and a few people are go-getters and/or over achievers.  The majority are more than happy and willing to let the over-achievers do most of the work.  Oddly, the under achievers are very willing to accept the accolades for the work the over-achievers accomplished, but I digress.

Work Efficiently

The point here is not what other people are doing or not doing, it is about how to improve how you and I do our work.   Are you working as efficiently as possible?   Wouldn’t it be better if we did 80% of our work in 20% of our time?   How you say?

It is about working smarter not harder.  How many times have you started a task and then been distracted by a thought of another task that you pick up quickly, get it done, then back to your first task.  You now have to ramp your thought process back up on the first task…which takes time.  I don’t know about you but I will admit, many times the reason I get distracted on another task, besides that I have a lot on my plate, is because I am procrastinating on getting the task at hand completed.


We usually procrastinate on things we don’t want to do, or things that are overwhelming us in some way.  I have also found that once I have completed the task I was procrastinating over, I look back and wonder why I didn’t get it done quicker, that it really wasn’t as bad as I made it to be in my mind.

We have to be proactive to get results.  To make things happen.  We have to be proactive to move forward in life.

How To Improve

What I found to be a great help is to get a group of tasks completed maybe in three hours and then allow myself “free time” for a period of time say 60 to 90-minutes give or take.  This refreshes me enough so that I actually work more efficiently and quicker in the next two or three hours.

Let’s look at this a little deeper, is it possible that 80% of the time you use up is only giving you 20% of your overall happiness?  If that is true, wouldn’t you want to strive to have a life that 20% of the time you spend  provides you 80% of your overall happiness?

As an example, and again, I am not talking absolutes, but more in weights.  What if you had no bills except living expenses, you spend only 10 minutes paying bills, no credit cards or other debt.  That gives you the majority of your day, your month, your life, living happy and free knowing you have not debt.  Sure this is a broad example, but it is the thought I am trying to get across.

What about your job?  You spend eight, nine, maybe 10 or more hours a day at work, not counting travel time to and from.  Is that job providing you 80% of your happiness?  If you are like 80% of the population, the answer is no.

Yes, we need income to sustain life, but is there a rule somewhere that says we can’t be happy in the pursuit of that income?   I say no.

Work Smarter Not Harder

I firmly believe if 80% of our life is spent on things that make us happy, things of quality in our life such as family and friends, and 20% of our time is spent on responsibilities to maintain life and that time is used efficiently, I know I would have a much fuller and richer life.

Time to start re-organizing time.  Time to work smarter not harder.

Eat That Frog

A great book on improving your organization is Eat That Frog. It is focused on doing those nasty unwanted tasks first. The tasks in life that you don’t want to do.  Sometimes you just have to do the worst thing first to get it out of the way.  If you had to eat both a piece of cake and a frog, which would you do first? You would eat the cake, but you still have that frog sitting there to eat.

The same holds true with tasks in life, if you do all the fun stuff first, you still have the agony of the tasks you don’t like to do and they still have to get done. What if you did all the stuff you don’t like to do first? Chances are you will get those tasks done in a few hours, leaving the rest of your time open for the fun stuff, the important things in life like time with the family.

Change Your Thought Process

Start now, focus on what you don’t like to get done and do it, get it done. You will be surprise, you will be able to get it done a lot faster, it most likely won’t be as bad as you made it out to be, and you will have time to do what you really want to do, more time that you had thought.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.