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Applying the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule as it is known to some, is the concept that 80 percent of any given output, usually comes from only 20 percent of a given effort to get that output.  Or conversely, that 80 percent of a given effort generates only 20 percent of a desired outcome.

The numbers 80 and 20 are arbitrary and are only used in the context of the general principle. The distribution could be 75 and 5, or 90 and 40. In other words, it is not necessary that the numbers add up to 100. What is important is identifying that in general there are tasks and habits that are considerably more effective and efficient than others.

Peak performers use this general concept to their advantage by continually evaluating any system they use to garner results (whether it is in business, fitness, education, or well-being) and eliminating tasks and processes with little yield. Identifying what is working and doing more of it, and identifying what is not working and doing less (or not doing it at all) seems intuitive but unfortunately is rarely applied in the real world — many people are simply resistant to systemic change to the detriment of productivity.