Meaning of Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle originally comes from Italy and is named after its discoverer. It is often referred to as the “80-20 rule”. In this article we will show you exactly what it is about and how you can use the Pareto principle for your success.

Definition – Pareto Principle

According to Howsmb, the essence of the Pareto principle is that there are inequalities and imbalances in many areas of our lives. Be it the distribution of assets or real estate ownership. Above all, however, the principle can also be applied to the use of our time. Because 80 percent of the services provided can be completed in just 20 percent of the total time, if you really stick to it. In short: professional time management enables impressive results – typically in a ratio of 80 to 20.

Pareto principle and time management: this is how you can improve your time management

To begin with, briefly on the origin of the principle, so that you can understand how this idea came about. An Italian scientist found that only 20 percent of the people in Italy at the time owned 80 percent of the land. From this he concluded that banks could actually serve 80 percent of their customers in 20 percent of the total time spent. This is how the connection to time management came about, which is still respected today.

Time management in everyday life

In everyday life there are a particularly large number of situations that you do not have to master perfectly, but which you have to master quickly. The classic example here is cleaning your own four walls under time pressure. Imagine that you only have 20 percent of the time you actually need to clean the apartment from the ground up.

Nevertheless, under time pressure, you will manage to get the apartment in good shape by and large within this much shorter period of time. Not perfect, but at the 80 percent mentioned. This shows how the Pareto rule is used in everyday life.

But you can also use it consciously, for example by being aware that 80 percent of the time you spend with friends is only used for 20 percent of your friends. So let’s go and get in touch with old friends who have been neglected. It is therefore important that you keep the Pareto principle in mind. Be it to actively use it or just to know that it exists and to question your actions from time to time and adjust if necessary. Finally, the procedure according to the 80-20 rule can also be a disadvantage in some areas of life.

Time management in professional life

Time is practically always in short supply in professional life. It is all the more important to make good use of the available time resources, to allocate them sensibly and to get the most out of the available hours .

Here, too, we have a classic example for you: Imagine you are supposed to create a PowerPoint presentation and deliver it shortly. Now there is no time to lose. While you would otherwise spend a long time on formatting, tinkering graphics and designing beautiful slides, you are thinking of the Pareto principle. When you are under time pressure, you fill the slides with facts, you can still make them look reasonably good and you can quickly start the presentation, in which the content counts anyway and the most colorful slide is not searched for.

Not everything perfect in a short time, but creating as much as possible in a good, meaningful way – this is how the 80-20 rule can be summarized for your everyday professional life. If you stick to this rule in a professional context, you will find that the time it takes to perfect things is often in no relation to how much you actually improve a thing with a much greater amount of time. Of course, this does not apply equally to all professions, because after all there are also positions in which every detail counts and perfection is the core requirement. But we all know the situations in which, in retrospect, you are certain that it would have been easier, faster and therefore less perfect.

Time management in studies

Nowhere is the 80-20 rule used as intensively as it is among students.

The next exam is getting closer and closer, but you haven’t started studying yet. Now you only have less time than would actually be needed to work through all of the material well. Here, too, the Pareto principle is the solution of your choice. you prioritize what is really important and thus reduce the entire content a little – according to the Pareto rule to 80 percent. Time is short, so you start immediately and manage to record the most important core content within a shorter period of time.

In this example you can see that knowledge of the Pareto principle alone is not sufficient, but that you also have to build up the competence to quickly decide what is really relevant to success.

Criticism of the Pareto principle: dangers and problems of the 80-20 rule

The Pareto principle can often be enormously helpful, but there is also understandable criticism of this approach. This concerns three points in particular:

  • Excuses : There are things that cannot be simplified, shortened or only largely done, but have to be perfect. Full commitment is required here and the Pareto principle must not be used as an excuse. you have to be clear to yourself when you can apply the rule appropriately and in which situations increasing efficiency is not the right way.
  • Wrong interpretation: 80 and 20 should not be added, so you must not misunderstand the principle. It is not as if you have already exceeded all goals with 30 percent commitment. The rule is that you can do 80 percent of things 20 percent of the time. In order to achieve 100 percent, you still have to put in 100 percent effort.
  • Effectiveness in the right place: Working in a time-saving manner is often a good thing. As explained in the last example, this also means that you have to know where you can save time and where you may not have to work perfectly. However, be aware that you have to prioritize correctly in order for the principle to work and keep in mind that increases in efficiency are not always possible and correct.

The decision as to which tasks you do perfectly and with full effort and which not, are associated with a great deal of responsibility. In any case, take the time to think in a structured way about the areas where time can really be saved and in which situations you should be better off with full steam instead of reducing one or the other hour and allowing inaccuracies.

Conclusion on the Pareto principle

In general, the principle is simply explained and has already been used by everyone in everyday life, whether consciously or unconsciously. However, if you want to use this rule in a targeted manner, you can visibly improve your own time management in this way. At the same time, however, it is important to always keep in mind that these time savings can come at the expense of quality. Tasks still have to be taken seriously and prioritization must be carried out with great care. Those who stick to these rules and do not confuse the Pareto principle with simple inaccuracy can optimize their own time management in every situation in life.

Pareto Principle