PrintI had lunch recently with a friend who referenced the “80/20 rule” because someone had referenced it to her.  When we compared notes on what it means, we realized that neither of us was entirely sure. I realized in that moment that the term “80/20 rule” is part of my vocabulary but I have lost touch with it’s actual meaning. In the spirit of “Words Matter,” a blog I posted in September last year, I thought it was time to revisit the meaning of these words. In addition, I closed out 2014 by asking the question, “how are you spending the 24 hours you are given each day?” and this concept of “80/20 rule” is completely relevant, as I know that it relates to focus and leveraging time for the greatest impact and value.

What I re-discovered about the “80/20 rule” also known as the Pareto Principle, is that it means that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the causes. 80% of the sales comes from 20% of the customers. 80% of the complaints come from 20% of the clients. 80% of the sales come from 20% of the products. In other words, as it relates to time management and focus…focus on the 20% that matters. Focus on the 20% that will drive results.

I, in fact, had this wrong. I was operating under the belief that 80% matters, so don’t sweat the last 20%. My interpretation was that once you get to 80%, the effort to achieve that last 20% going from 80 to 100% was not a good return on investment of time. Based upon this incorrect interpretation or recollection of what the “80/20 rule” means, I was devoting my attention to 80% rather than 20%…a big difference!

Now I understand I should be focusing on the 20% that matters, and not what I thought was the 80% that matters. I should therefore be getting back a big chuck of time. Do I have THAT right?