The Pareto Principle is very simple, yet important It is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who, in 1906, found that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

Yesterday I was in a meeting with a successful advertising executive who told me his first mentor gave him a list of accounts to review and said to him to identify the ones he thought would generate the best financial returns.  The next day he came back with the targeted accounts.  The mentor told him, “good, now focus 80% of your time on those accounts”.  Simple advice on one hand, yet many of us get caught in the details without focusing on what’s most important.  This simple step was the seed for a rewarding career in national sales for this executive.

Brian Tracy gives goal setting advice using the 80/20 principle by chunking a list to 10 items and then pick the 1-2 activities that will make a real difference and pay off in your life.

There are many ways to use the 80/20 principle in life.  In relationships, for example, Sue De Santo describes how 80% of our difficulties with a partner comes from our own experiences and thoughts.  And that usually in the best relationships the other person cannot fill 20% of what we are looking for.  That can be true with buying a house.  At best any house will have 80% of what you want yet we can ruminate on the 20% that the is missing from our wish list (see post Understanding Needs versus Wants).

Here’s a PDF that depicts how observing the 80/20 rule in everyday life opens your awareness from which roads have 80% of the traffic to 20% of a menu accounts for 80% of the meals ordered.

Time is all you have.  And you may find one day that you less than you think, writes Randy Pausch in his book The Last Lecture.  He advises to ask yourself, are you spending your time on the right things?  You may have causes, goals, interest, but are they even worth pursuing.

Think about how precious your time is when it comes to the 80/20 Principle. Do you use the 80/20 Principle?  Please share your ideas!