How the 80/20 Rule Can Revolutionize Your Productivity

Do you often feel as though you’ve spent all day working hard, but have nothing to show for it? Does your workflow feel out of balance? Then the 80/20 rule could help you find your flow. Here’s how.

What Is the 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is a prediction model that can be used to determine what factors in your workflow contribute the most to your productivity.

According to the 80/20 rule, 80% of your output usually comes from just 20% of your input. Therefore, if you can find and identify which 20% of your workflow contributes to the majority of your output, you can then streamline your workflow to make you more productive.

What Are the Benefits of the 80/20 Rule?


80/20 Rule girl at laptop analysing data

The 80/20 prediction model can be applied in various business settings to highlight the key factors that affect success. The main benefit of doing this is businesses can then see where the majority of their output comes from, focusing resources on those areas to help improve efficiency and further boost productivity.

Conversely, finding the tasks that take the most time but contribute the least to the total output can help businesses eradicate roadblocks and see where they could benefit from implementing automation.

How to Use the 80/20 Rule?

For the everyday person, the 80/20 rule can sound a bit technical, but it can also be helpful for smaller businesses and even individuals who want to increase their output.

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Using the 80/20 for Productivity

If you’re interested in trying the 80/20 rule to improve your productivity, then, to begin with, you’re going to want to start tracking your day-to-day activities. Try to keep track of how long you spend on each task and, where possible, highlight which jobs lead to the majority of your output.

An easy way to track your daily workload is to use employee time-tracking management software or apps, such as DeskTime, Hours Time Tracking, or Toggle. There are dozens of different time-tracking apps out there, and the right one for you will depend on your budget and how detailed you want your results to be.

If these time-tracking apps all seem a bit too complicated, then you can also track your time with a simple phone timer and pen and paper.

With a clear view of how you currently spend your day, you’ll be able to rejig your priorities to ensure that your workflow prioritizes the tasks that contribute to most of your output.

Using the 80/20 Rule for Greater Profits

While increasing productivity will usually inadvertently increase your profits, you can also use the 80/20 rule to help you prioritize the clients or products that bring the most direct cash into your business.

Take a look at your best-selling products or who your highest-spending clients are. The chances are, 20% of your clients or products contribute to the lion’s share of your profits. Now take a look at how much time you spend on your high-profit items or clients versus how much time you spend on a low-profit client or item. See where this is going?


With a clearer view of who and what is bringing the most money into your business, you can better structure your time and ensure that you dedicate adequate resources to these high-income areas.

Related: Effective Tips for Managing Overlapping Tasks

Ultimately the 80/20 Rule Can Be Applied to Any Part of Your Life

While the 80/20 rule is most commonly applied in a business setting, it can also be used in virtually any other area of your life.

In your relationships, the 80/20 rule can be used to compromise and keep all parties happy. In your diet, the 80/20 rule can be used to ensure that you eat healthy foods 80% of the time while allowing 20% for less healthy foods.

And when studying, the 80/20 rule can help students to get a better grade by focusing on the questions that will bring in the majority of their marks.



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