Pareto Principle, to what extent is it applicable?

Quote of the day: The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.


The Pareto Principle owes its name to Italian Vilfredo Pareto who observed that 80% of the land in Italy as well as other countries were owned by 20% of the population.


This observation of unequal distribution of land can also be observed in other areas. For example, it has been inferred that the Pareto Principle applies to athletic training where roughly 20 % of the exercises and habits have 80 % of the impact and the trainee should not focus so much on a varied training.


You can go ahead and identify this principle in your own life among some input variables or you can apply it like I did. 

I realised the principle could integrate into my time-management system.


Clarification of this Post


Applying the Pareto Principle with my time-manamgent system is as followed:

  • Provided that you have a goal you want to achieve:
  1. Break down the goal into tasks. Some approaches I use is the reverse engineering approach where I simply begin by assuming that I have already reached the goal, but then I ask myself the question: how did I reach this point? I continue to repeat  this question until I have a sequence of steps describing how I reached each stage and subsequent stages. Reverse Engineering approach is a topic for another time.
  2. From these steps, I then define the tasks that I need to do in order to fulfill each  step.
  3. I rank each task based on how much I think by achieving the task will bring me closer to the goal. This ranking system depends on the goa, hence it varies. My strategy is to first tackle tasks with highest ranking or tasks that I think brings me closer to my goal. This is where I apply the principle of Pareto.

Now that I have the task, I set up the time-management system as described here.


Some Key Takeaways

I don’t think that one should follow the Pareto Principle to its core because it is not necessarily true that 20% of the tasks must yield  80% of the results. Instead, one should keep this principle in mind as a reminder that no matter how ambitious the goal is, it can be reached quicker if you identify core tasks that bring you closer to the goal. Hence, saving yourself some time.


There are various other strategies out there other than the Pareto Principle, but I think this one is among the simplest one. My advice is to go with the simple one first and then try to improve it.