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The 80/20 Rule

There is a rule which can be broadly applied to business, to one's job and to life. It is called the 80/20 Rule, or "the vital few and the trivial many." It is a principle you can apply to increase your efficiency and to get "more bang for your buck".

Picture: 20% effort gives 80% resultsBasically, 80% of the result of your work comes from 20% of your efforts. That 20% is the "vital few" actions which produce the greatest results. The other 80% of your efforts are usually spent on activities that produce only 20% more results (the "trivial many").

One way of looking at this is in relation to the sale of products or services. 80% of sales tend to come from 20% of the products/services you offer. A bank sells many more checking accounts than it does high-value certificates of deposit.

Another way to apply this principle is that 80% of your difficulties come from 20% of your tasks. You may be able to identify the very time-consuming duties that must be done, but don't yield much in the way of results. There may be a way to reorganize these activities so they don't take so long, or to reschedule your time so the majority of your work is done before you tackle these tasks.

Picture: 20% of causes give 80% of problems Use a systematic approach to identifying which areas of your job are creating the most difficulty and how to make them simpler. Go for a permanent solution that improves the situation, rather than a quick fix.

If you can identify which 20% of your work activities produce the greatest results, then you can concentrate on those first. A way to do this is to look at how much time you must spend on an activity or task in relation to the importance of its results.

When you have accomplished these 20% of the activities or they are rolling, then look at the remaining 80% of the efforts or activities you normally do. Then select the 20% of these activities that will achieve the most results.

This will yield an additional 16% of your total work effort (80% X 20% = 16%). Decide which of these will produce the most results and do them. You will have accomplished 96% (80% + 16%) of your work results with just 36% of the time and effort!

Picture: Two passes of 80/20 Rule imply 36% of tasks yield 96% of output