In the late 1800s, an economist named Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of the land in his home country was owned by 20% of the population. Turns out, the land in nearly every major country is distributed the exact same way. Years later a consultant named joseph Girard realized that the same pattern applies to business.
The Pareto or 80/20 principle suggests that 80% of sales will come from 20% of your customers. But the 80/20 principle isn’t just limited to land or sales. In athletics, 20% of your exercises will yield 80% of your gains. In customer service, 20% of your customers will make up 80% of your complaints. In programming, fixing the top 20% of bugs will resolve 80% of the user’s issues.
Over the years, all sorts of mathematical evidence have come out in support of the 80/20 principle. Something called power law can even predict everything from the frequency of last names to the size of craters on the moon.
Well, as you might have guessed, the principle applies to work and success too. 80% of your success will come from 20% of your work. This means we waste the vast majority of our time. According to the Havard Business Review, almost everything we do is unimportant.
We spend 80% of our time distracted or inattentive. We are led astray by our environments. We are sidetracked by technology. Even when we are working only a small percentage is actually worth our time.
We’d like to think that we get as much out of our work as we put into it but that just isn’t true. Someone who spends 8 hours at work every day could accomplish less than somebody who only works 8 hours a week. The key is to identify that all-important 20%. The 80/20 principle is also known as the law of the vital few.
If that 20% disappeared, you would fail. You would make no progress. But if you concentrate on that 20% the majority will flourish making you successful in the long-run.
When you make your to-do-list, order it from most to least important. Then cross out the bottom 80%, that top 20% is where the majority of your success will come from.
The idea is to increase your productivity by targeting the vital few. Don’t try to do everything. Don’t try to make everything perfect. And make sure that you never let a day go by without working on that top 20%. It may only take you an hour a day, but that hour will have a bigger impact than the remaining 23 hours ever will.
Your routines should create a framework for your day. I say routines because ideally, you should have two of them – One in the morning and one at night.
Morning routines are intended to stimulate your body and brain. A good night’s sleep supplies you with energy so your morning routine should amplify it and give it direction.
A morning workout, for example, invigorates you by jump-starting your metabolism and flooding your body with endorphins. Consistency is especially important for morning routines. Many people find it challenging to motivate themselves to work-out or spend time setting goals.
It may be tough at first but a consistent morning routine will help you build self-discipline. Not only will this make your routines easier, but the benefits will also carry over into your work. You’ll have an easier time focusing, while feeling confident and clear-headed.
They actually differ for everyone. You ultimately decide the routine that works best for you. Some people run, eat breakfast and listen to a podcast. Others make lists and read the newspaper. Whatever routine you choose make sure that it leaves you energized, and inspired.
The purpose of an evening routine is to wind your body down. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as jumping in bed and binging a series on Netflix. A strong evening routine nourishes your brain, while gradually preparing for bed.
You can use this time to plan the next day, reflect or do something fun. Many successful people set aside a block of time at night to work on their hobbies. As important as it is to work it’s just as necessary to relieve stress and do what you love. Make sure to give your brain some creative freedom while keeping it active and ambitious.
Also read: 3 Shocking Habits of BILLIONAIRES
Imagine you are having a busy week at work when a co-worker asks you for a favor. Your boss passed them a huge assignment so they are wondering if you can share the load. This means hours of extra work, but you aren’t sure if you have the time or energy to handle anything more.
There are several ways to navigate this situation many of which leave you in a rough spot. Maybe you are the kind of person who would jump at the opportunity whether you like helping people or feel too guilty to say no, you commit to something you can’t handle.
It always feels satisfying and rewarding at the moment, watching them smile or pay you compliments eases that initial batch of anxiety but you soon find yourself overwhelmed. The quality of your work starts to suffer, you have piled on an extra heaping of stress, and it won’t go down easy.
Maybe saying yes isn’t your problem. Let’s say that you turn your co-worker down instead. You’re already worried about your current work and don’t want to risk overburdening yourself. You might even be scared of the extra pressure.
This project could be a giant step forward in your career, which can be intimidating. So naturally, you run away. Now you have to watch as your co-worker aces the assignment and gets that promotion you were hoping for.
Well, the mistake here isn’t the actual decision it’s how quickly you made it. In both situations, you responded right away. You went with your knee-jerk reaction which is like driving blind.
You may know how to drive straight but you still won’t see the tree in the middle of the road. In other words, you are committing to something without considering your own personal obstacles and limitations but that doesn’t mean that you should never drive.
You shouldn’t say no to everything assuming that you are going to crush and burn; then you won’t go anywhere. You will never make any progress because you are hiding in a safe little bubble.
The key is to make educated and mindful decisions. So before you choose, give yourself time to think it over. Respond with something like “I’ll get back to you later” or “I’ll check my calendar”. This buys you time to formulate a plan.
Does the extra work fit into your schedule? Do you want that additional stress in your life? What new avenues could this opportunity open up for you? You might feel differently about the entire situation after contemplating for as little as fifteen minutes.
The emotional weight of the decision will subside. This will give you a clear idea of what to do. In the end, you won’t want things like fear or guilt making choices for you and the best part is that you will never offend anyone by taking time to think.
You will communicate that you value you own time while showing that you are taking their decision seriously. Even if you turn them down a thorough “no” is always better than a half-hearted yes.
Many people aren’t aware of how much they complain. They don’t realize how much time they waste mowing over situations that don’t go their way.
To make matters worse, they rarely take action. They will complain about the same issue for weeks without making any effort to fix it. To be fair, it may not be your fault. It might be completely out of your control, but, when you complain, you’re only hurting yourself.
Complains trap you in a web of negativity. You become so focused on all the bad things that you don’t pay attention to the good ones. This negative outlook can ruin your chances of accomplishing your goals because you’ve decided the world won’t let you.
When you are pursuing success complaints are essentially excuses. They’re just reasons why you aren’t where you think you should be. Instead of complaining learn to practice gratitude. Find ways to be hopeful and inspired instead of angry.
Focus on the constructive parts of your life, to nurture a positive perspective. This will keep you feeling happy and motivated. That way when things don’t do your way you won’t give up. When you fail you will try again.
It’s actually pretty simple. Pay attention to the good in the world around you, no matter how small. It could be anything from your dog to the weather outside as long as you enjoy it. The idea is to separate the positive from the negative.
When something goes south chronic complainers feel like their entire life is falling apart. Someone who practices gratitude can still recognize the dozens of positive things in their life. This gives them the motivation to grow and take action while everyone else is focused on what went wrong.
Also read: 12 Shocking Habits of Successful People