Skip to content

Time Management Model: The Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, is a time management model that suggests that 80% of the outcomes are generated by 20% of the inputs or efforts. The principle was named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

In the context of time management, the Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your activities. The key to applying the Pareto Principle is to identify the activities that generate the greatest results and prioritise them above less important activities.

To apply The Pareto Principle time management model, also known as the 80/20 rule, you can follow these steps:

  1. Identify the Tasks that Generate the Highest Value - Determine the 20% of tasks that generate 80% of the results or value. Focus on these tasks first.
  2. Prioritise your Time - Spend your time on the tasks that provide the greatest value and impact. Eliminate or delegate tasks that do not contribute significantly to your goals.
  3. Analyse your Results - Monitor your progress and identify which tasks are contributing the most value. Evaluate which tasks are not generating results and consider eliminating them.
  4. Continuously Refine your Approach - Refine your approach by analysing the data and feedback you receive, and adjust your strategy accordingly. Regularly review and adjust your priorities to ensure you are working on the most important tasks.

By following these steps, you can use The Pareto Principle to prioritise your tasks and focus your time and energy on the tasks that will provide the greatest value and impact. This approach is particularly useful for people who have limited time and resources and want to maximise their productivity and efficiency.

When is the Pareto Principle most useful?

In our post “10 Super Useful Time Management Models”, we introduced the idea that time management models can usually be organised into three categories; Planning, Prioritising and Executing. We would consider the Pareto Principle, a Prioritising model.

The Pareto Principle is most useful when you need to prioritise tasks or activities that will have the greatest impact on your overall goals or outcomes.

The principle suggests that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In the context of time management, this means that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. Therefore, by focusing on the most important 20% of tasks or activities, you can achieve a disproportionate amount of success.

The Pareto Principle can be useful in many different areas, such as business, personal development, and time management. For example, if you have a long to-do list, you can use the principle to identify the 20% of tasks that will have the most impact on your goals and prioritise them accordingly. By focusing on these tasks first, you can maximise your productivity and achieve your desired outcomes more efficiently.

What are the common challenges when people use the Pareto Principle?

There are several common challenges that people may face when using the Pareto Principle:

  1. Difficulty in Identifying the 20% of Tasks that will Yield 80% of the Results - It can be challenging to identify which tasks are the most important and will have the biggest impact on your goals.
  2. Overestimating the Importance of the Remaining 80% - People may feel that they need to complete all tasks, regardless of their importance, leading to inefficiency.
  3. Lack of Follow-Through - Even after identifying the most important tasks, it can be challenging to stay focused and complete them in a timely manner.
  4. Inflexibility - The Pareto Principle can sometimes lead to a rigid approach to time management, which can be difficult to maintain over the long term.
  5. Unrealistic Expectations - People may expect that by focusing on the most important tasks, they will achieve their goals quickly and easily, which is not always the case.
Trevor O'Sullivan

Trevor O'Sullivan

General Manager. Since the early 2000s, Trevor has worked with thousands of Talent Management professionals to develop and apply assessment-based talent management solutions for selecting, developing and managing people. Trevor is an active member of the TTI Success Insights (TTISI) Global Advisory Council, contributes to TTISI product development and is a regular presenter at TTISI-R3. He is honoured to have received multiple Blue Diamond Awards and, more recently, the Bill Brooks Impact Award recognising his contributions to the TTISI global network.

We Would Like to Hear From You (0 Comments)

Newsletter Sign-Up

Designed For You

Going out every 3 weeks, the Science of Self™ newsletter brings interesting, fresh and topical content to professionals in Talent Management, Human Resources, Learning & Development, People & Culture, Organisational Development, General Management and Consulting.

Welcome to Science of Self™

Our knowledge centre holds over 400 articles shared through the Science of Self™ newsletter. The topics are relevant to the fields of talent management, human resources, organisational development and business growth.

As the title suggests, we take an evidence-based approach to sharing content about people in the context of work. If you like what you see, consider signing up below!

Knowledge Centre Home

    The Future of Work

    Looking for a practical guide to help you rewire your business for the future of work?

    Read More