Make the 80-20 Rule Work for You

One of the great discoveries related to productivity in every area of life has been popularized by the name, “The 80-20 Rule.” This rule states the principle that eighty percent of results come from twenty percent of effort. In this article we will learn how to take advantage of this principle.

What is the 80-20 Rule About?

Perhaps the 80-20 rule has been most applied in the business world. For example, 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers. Or, 80% of your profits come from 20% of your products. It is not hard to see how this principle applies to personal finances as well.


The 80-20 rule is really quite interesting to explore because so many studies have been done showing how it actually works out in unexpected ways. You will find an especially good article in the Wikipedia about it under Pareto principle.

On this site we are looking at financial issues and I will focus on those, but let me note here that the 80-20 rule applies well to other areas that deserve our attention. For example, 20% of our activities will bring 80% of the joy we experience in life. The application is clear: we will do well to identify these and spend 80% of our time doing the 20% we enjoy instead of the other way around!

How Can We Use the 80-20 Rule?

Many people praise the value of living by the Pareto principle. But it is one thing to recognize the value of the 80-20 rule and another to apply it to daily life. To do that it has to be instilled into normal, daily thinking patterns.

The reason most of us fail to take advantage of this concept even though we may have heard about it before is that we have not really incorporated it into our thinking. It is just lost somewhere in the back our our consciousness.

In other words, to put the 80-20 rule into meaning practice requires an attitude change. Along with affirmations, visualizations can be powerful tools to help us change attitudes or habits of thought. This attitude action step suggests one way you can take advantage of visualization to encourage yourself to apply the 80/20 rule to your own life.

A Practical Visual Tool for the 80-20 Rule

Here is a suggested poster that you can make to help focus your thinking on this principle. Make your own and put it up where you can see it often. It will remind you to focus your thinking on those things that are most productive in your life.

Poster showing 80-20 rule

Making visuals is not hard, but what counts is that you really use them! It is not enough to just hang them up somewhere and forget about them except for an occasional glance.

Think about what your visual tool means before starting to use it. When you see it, pause to think about it briefly. Most importantly, make a mental commitment to apply the idea consistently in your daily life.

Make the 80-20 Rule Real in Your Life

Be constantly alert to new opportunities to avoid low priority items and focus on important ones. And use your visual tool picturing the 80-20 Rule (the Pareto principle) to help keep you focused on this track.