How to 80/20 the hell out of your life – the Pareto Principle

27 thoughts on “How to 80/20 the hell out of your life – the Pareto Principle”

  1. Not having to calculate things is so important – more time spent doing something you don’t really want to do! Love trying to find this balance. We are going to downsizes houses next year so it will be mandatory to get rid of about 80% of the stuff we have. I think we will be just as happy with the 20% we use all the time! (Yep – drinking out of the same coffee cup I do everyday…why do I have 20 more in the cupboard??) We eat a lot of the same things too – (OK – haven’t tried Tofu yet…) I need to give this a try in other areas of life too. Thanks for the suggestion!

    1. Amen to that, Vicki! Getting rid of 80% of your stuff so you can enjoy the 20% that remains is an awesome plan. Makes you pick and choose those things that are truly important to you! 🙂

  2. Great thoughts and reminders on what brings happiness and efficiency in life. I’m a huge believer in being very efficient (with my time, money, etc). Sounds like a little bit of spring cleaning (literally in cleaning out the closet), but also when it comes to rethinking your work habits, meals we prepare, etc. Great post!

  3. The Pareto principle is so powerful. I first picked up on this in The 4-hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and have found countless ways to apply this at work and at home.

    One of the cooler applications here is that you can “compound it”:
    – 80% of your output comes from 20% of your effort
    – 64% of your output (80% of the 80% above) comes from just 4% of your effort (20% of the 20% above)
    – 51% of your output (80% of the 80% of the 80%) comes from just 0.8% of your effort (20% of the 20% of the 20%)

    When you put it that way, you get about half of your output/happiness/etc from just 1% of your time. As you go down each compounding level, I think it’s harder to identify what the critical 4% or 0.8% of activity is, but if you can nail those, you’re sitting pretty 🙂

  4. I could definitely use this in relation to my possessions and groceries. I tend to eat the same foods over and over again so I’ve gotten better at grocery shopping (and reducing food waste) but there is still a lot that could be done. And I’ve been working on getting rid of excess stuff for the last year but it feels like that is a job that will never be done.

    Thanks for providing some much needed motivation and a reminder at how much this principle can help improve our lives 🙂

    1. Thanks Kate. Like you, we tend to buy the same things every week as well, rarely wavering (but it does happen…occasionally). Sometimes, the wife and I like to live dangerously! 🙂

  5. I agree that working full-time can be really draining, even more so when you don’t like your job. Getting up early every day, the commute, working 8 or more hrs, errands then the normal responsibilities when you get home, there’s not much time or energy left to enjoy or accomplish much of anything for yourself. Your best and most alert hours of your day are spent for the company. You just feel like you are spinning your wheels all the time.Weekends and vacation time isnt really enough. To a certain extent, I dont mind working. The problem is there aren’t enough hours in the week to work full time and also accomplish all your personal interests at the same time.

    1. Yup, it really can. Once I truly started to realize just how much time a full-time job takes from me (it’s more than just the time spent at the office), I was quite literally appalled. I don’t want the most productive hours of my day to be spent at the office. I have more important things to do than that! 🙂

  6. So true! We both cut back on work and cut back on expenses, and it made such a huge difference. We also decluttered and found more space and time. Since we only work 3-4 days per week, we give ourselves those days off of chores, and have relaxing time together instead. We can still get caught up on the essentials on our days off.

    1. It’s nice not putting in a full 5-day work week. Spend a day (max) getting chores done, then the next two or three days actually doing something that you enjoy. Looks like you have an awesome balance!

  7. We eventually decided that we weren’t going to do “chores” on our Friday’s off. Since we get every other friday off, we found we would use them up running errands, doing stuff around the house, etc… and it didn’t feel like a day off. Especially now with kids, we use those (well I still will anyway) days to do what we want, which can be playing music, video games, going out for lunch, fishing, kayaking, napping… You get the point.

    I’ll have to try and apply the Pareto principle in other areas of my life. I have been reading a book “Essentialism” by McKeown about being more effective, getting out of ruts, and the main thing from the book is “Less but Better”. Similar to the Pareto principle. Take what you like, and go for quality over quantity, remove all the fluff that comes with things and make it “Less but Better.”

    1. Nice plan, Mr. SSC. You recognize how much time is being taken from you each week and are actively making strides to reverse that course. Very well done, and I’ll have to check out “Essentialism”. It sounds interesting!

  8. As I was reading this enjoyable post, I was also taken back to thinking about a post written by the Mad Fientist on “Happiness through subtraction”. Subtracting that 80% is the key. We should tell those expensive therapists it is all just math! Only kidding.

    Unloading that excess baggage in the form of physical stuff and/or mental stuff is necessary and it is an ongoing project to keep it in check before it builds up to be too much again.

    1. Thanks Mr. PIE. Yup, these two posts are very, very similar. And I agree, this is definitely an on-going process. The goal of 80/20’ing your life is never truly complete!

  9. It’s a great concept that we would use frequently with clients in my prior profession. It was sometimes even in the client’s best interest to “fire” some of its own customers — those low-revenue, high-frustration buyers who create more grief than they’re worth. We can apply that lesson to our own lives, too — not all activity generates the same value, and there’s some point where the diminished marginal returns just aren’t worth it anymore. Nice post.

    1. Thanks Matt. It’s true, firing clients that provide very little value relative to the cost it requires to keep them as a client is a real trade-off to be considered. Sometimes, the negative outweighs the positive. 🙂

  10. I can really identify with this concept, especially when it comes to work. I hate my job, but suffer through it for the paycheck to pay off our debt. I was wasting so much time when it came to days in the office, only really being productive about 20% of the time (probably). Now, I tweaked my schedule and started to do other things during traditional working hours to use that time better. I don’t feel like I’m wasting 80% of my time anymore.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Harmony. I know how you feel about suffering through a job for a paycheck, but good on you for finding a way to get the most out of it! That’s something that too few of us actually figure out how to do.

  11. Very good article!!! I enjoyed the 20/80 principle! My little bro told me you have to love your work because you are there 75% of your life! God bless you and your family 👪!!

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