I recently read that 80/20 principle was discovered by a Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist. He discovered that 80% of the peas in his garden that grew were from 20% of the seeds he planted. Kind of an odd distribution, wouldn’t you say? However, many have found this applied to all sorts of things: time management, wealth distribution, and other areas of everyday life. I want to note, first that 80/20 is not a hard fast rule: some of distributions may be 90-10, 75-25, 95-5, or others equally “unequal”. However, I wanted to apply this principle to my life, and the results have been amazing. What I found was that I was already applying this principle in many ways, without even realizing it, and saving time and money in the process.
Here are some more examples to show you that this exists everywhere, not just wealth or time management. Remember 80-20 is not concrete, but all of the examples are disproportionately skewed in and around that number.
1. 20% of athletes in any sport make 80% of the money
2. 80% of your time is spent with 20% of your friends
3. 80% of the clothes you wear comprise 20% of your wardrobe
4. 20% of the songs on your computer account for 80% of the songs played
5. 20% of salesmen bring in 80% of the profit
6. 20% of MLM business owners account for 80% of the profits realized
7. 80% of the population is part of 20% of the political parties that exist
It is my belief that we can choose in many situations which part we would like to be in: the 80% of people or the 20% of people. It’s really a matter of choice. Confused? The everyday examples below will help better explain:
Lunch: 80% of people go to lunch within the same 20% of lunch hours. I realized when going to lunch at 11am, no one was in there. By noon, there was a line out the door! Where were you? In the crowd or enjoying your lunch? I know you might be thinking, “I’m not hungry at 11.” Well I started with this problem, but eventually our lunch group used to eating at 11 and saving part of the sub for later. I also bring snacks to have during the day. We never noticed a difference.
The grocery store: When I applied this theory to the store, I noticed often times 80 percent of the people checking out were in 20 percent of the lines, while perfectly good lines were wide open! Why didn’t they move over? I don’t know, but when you’re looking for these lines, you can often find them. Many times these open lines are the self checkout lanes, which many people don’t like. Once you use these a couple of times, however, they are really easy to operate, and quicker than waiting in lines. Who wants to wait? If the lines are actually all packed, like at huge discount warehouse stores, what times of day do 80% of the people shop there? My guess is right after work, like you! But seriously, just go at a different time and get something done in the meantime. Oftentimes its worth saving yourself the headache.
Traffic: There are two parts to traffic that I want to talk about. I live in Los Angeles so its important to me to save time and gas on the roads.
The first involves leaving from work: 80% of people leave within 20% of the leaving hours. I found that when I left at 5pm, the road home was packed. It was difficult getting out of the parking lot, and the roads were a mess. What happened when I took a 30 minute lunch instead of an hour and left at 430? Smooth sailing. I noticed then that it all depends on what you want to experience. You may ask again, “Well if everyone did this it would be crowded again.” No it won’t. Everyone will not do this. Just be the one person that does and you’ll have no problem getting home. Consider even getting to work even earlier and leaving a full hour before everyone else – the roads are empty.
The second part of this involves traffic on the roads due to volume of cars, construction, or anything else. 20% of the cars don’t wait in traffic – they find a way out.
If this is a slight delay, consider toughing it out. But often times a construction delay will waste 15-20 minutes or more when there are other ways to get to your destination. I usually seem to be the only person to “drive out of line” and at least try to find a shortcut. I am very familiar with the shortcuts around my house, but if I’m not familiar with the area I just turn onto cross streets, which are usually blocked out so that you can easily drive one street over, a few streets up, and back over to arrive ahead of the traffic on the same street, saving you time to do things that actually have a purpose. Are you willing to at least try to find the shortcut? Or are you waiting in line?
Work: Long ago, I had a job doing data entry, which can get pretty boring. For work that just “has to be done” and seemingly never stops, I wondered if there was a solution to improving productivity. There was. I figured out that 5-10 percent of the invoices I received had problems- wrong account totals, fuzzy invoice numbers, special coding… all sorts of things. But it was only this ten percent. I could deal with each individual one, but that would take three times as long! I could actually be doing something productive. I simply asked if one of the others in the department could handle it, and it was done. I simply entered the 90 percent of invoices that had no problems and did the same amount of work in one third the time so I could work on other things. This is just a different form of delegating. What if Donald Trump (or any ultra successful person) had to answer every call and email that came his way? He would never get to focus on anything productive. So he has administrative staff that handle that and relay the information, if need be.
I want to challenge everyone to take a look at similar situations in their own lives and think about how you can save time or improve productivity. These may seem like trivial things compared to the rest of your life, but I propose that it is this type of mindset which will help you spot the bigger, more important opportunities, like business deals, opportunities, and the like, that only a fraction of the population can see. Start with the small stuff it will start to make sense.
James Nissen is a full time internet marketer and just launched an amazing marketing giveaway at http://www.IMadwords.com