How the Pareto Principle Simplifies Life

productivity May 17, 2023
How the Pareto Principle Simplifies Life

Many people go through life doing things that are very inefficient. They spend more time than they need to on things that aren't as impactful. This is dangerous for motivation, as slowing down progress can be quite demoralizing. I've talked about the Pareto principle before, but today I want to go over how the Pareto principle simplifies life.

To recap, the Pareto principle is known more commonly as the 80/20 rule. This is because it states that 80% of the outcome comes from 20% of the effort, and 20% of the outcome comes from 80% of the effort.

This principle can be applied to more than just effort expended. It can be applied to reading, dating, finances, and productivity, just to name a few.

Today, I'll be going over how this principle affects productivity. Here are two big ways the Pareto principle simplifies life and increases productivity.

1. Making Room for Discovery

Many young people growing up these days share one thing in common: they don't know themselves that well. Despite the obvious lack of connection, knowing yourself makes you much more productive. The Pareto principle gives you the room required for you to discover who you are.

When you don't know who you are, you go through life wandering with the current. You have no destination and no purpose.

When you introduce the Pareto principle into your life, you're cutting away the chaff so you can find who you really are. 

In order to make this room, there are two things you need to do.

First, ask yourself how and why. How will this benefit you, and why do you want to do this? These are the two most important questions you need to ask yourself.

If an activity doesn't bring you a benefit or it's something you don't want to do, you will struggle to even think about doing it. Ideally, you it brings a benefit and is something you want to do. Aim for these kinds of activities first.

Second, you need to be honest with yourself. Is this activity something that you want to do because you want to do it, or is it something that would please your friends or family? 

More often than not, we are conditioned to do things for external validation. This is a fast track to misery and dissatisfaction. To effectively use the Pareto principle, you want to avoid things that are done for external validation instead of some form of intrinsic validation.

By putting these two points together, you form the basis for greater productivity. 

2. Focus within Focus

The number of times I've heard an older person say that young people have bad time management is too damn high! But, they do have a point. With so many things pulling our attention in every direction, how are we supposed to focus? The Pareto principle helps with this by creating priority amongst the things that matter.

Once you've determined the activities you want to do, it's time for some more filtering. Specifically, it's time to prioritize.

First off, it's very inefficient if your list of activities is too big. We don't want to overload ourselves as this leads to burnout very quickly.

For this reason, you'll want to have a small number of priority activities. 

For example, losing weight, daily meditation, practicing guitar and reading may be four of the activities you want to prioritize. You'd focus on these and leave the others to the wayside.

Once you're finished with one, you can swap it out. Once you've lost weight, you've run out of books to read, or once meditation or guitar becomes autopilot, you can replace it with something else.

Secondly, once you do your daily tasks, stop stressing.

Stress makes you less productive in the long run. It makes it harder for you to sleep, it magnifies all the small problems in your life and is overall not a fun experience.

It will benefit you to adopt the mindset that once you're finished your work, you stop stressing over it. What's done is done, now treat it like it's done.

A smaller task list combined with lower stress will allow you to enjoy life more, both in business and in pleasure.

Out with stress, in with relaxation

It does nobody in your life any good if you stress out too much. It hampers your health and annoys everyone around you. Nobody likes people who are overly negative, and stress is a one-way ticket to exactly that.

You need to have a balance. It does you no good to have only work or only play. It also does you no good if you have one more than the other.

The Pareto principle helps you to achieve this balance by ensuring the important stuff gets done first so you can relax after.

- Karl