Pareto Principle …The 80-20 Rule!

Time Management CourseWe all have tough days at work when we just can’t seem to get it all done. All of us feel that we should be able to get our work done without feeling overwhelmed and eventually experience some physical health issues.

The Pareto principle is also known as the 80–20 rule which means that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The original observation was in connection with population and wealth. Pareto noticed that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of the population. He then carried out surveys on a variety of other countries and found to his surprise that a similar distribution applied.

In a nut shell, this principle states that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts. So the big question is whether or not this principle holds up in our ordinary business and professional lives. In other words, do 20% of our customers contribute to 80% of our sales? We could even ask whether or not 20% of our customers or clients cause 80% of our customer support issues?

Business Environment

The distribution that is claimed, manifests itself in the some of the following ways:

• 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of its customers
• 80% of a company’s complaints come from 20% of its customers
• 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of the time its staff spend
• 80% of a company’s sales come from 20% of its products
• 80% of a company’s sales are made by 20% of its sales staff

Based on these assumptions, many businesses have an easy access to dramatic improvements in profitability by focusing on the most effective areas and eliminating, ignoring, automating, delegating or retraining the rest, as appropriate.

This could be a perfect time to test this concept. What if we prioritized one week of my most important tasks or responsibilities? It would be interesting to see if the lowest priority or less valued items consume 80% of our resources such as time, benefits and rewards. If you wish to test this principle with an experiment, I would suggest you make a few advance preparations.

Decide on a typical week prioritize your major and recurring duties, responsibilities and tasks. If possible, determine if you can group similar tasks into groups or a time slot, being mindful of deadlines and meetings. Your mail application may have a calendaring function that may help you with the planning, logging and tracking of the experimental week. You will want to use your most productive times to devote to the high payoff tasks. Finally, to the extent possible eliminate as many distractions as possible and don’t forget to take appropriate breaks to avoid “burn-out.”

Related Articles:   YOUR TIME … 5 ways to manage it better!   and   It’s Your Time … make the best use of it!

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Performance Management, Time Management

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