Why 20% of Your Efforts Yield 80% of Your Results

When you're trying to accomplish a goal, it's easy to get frustrated when you feel aren't seeing the results that you want.

May 9, 2022
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How would you describe your job to a five year old?
What season would you be?
What is a weird food you have tried? Would you eat it again?
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Would you go in the mother-ship with aliens if they landed on Earth tomorrow?
What is your favorite season?
Do prefer working from home or the office?
What is your earliest memory of this job?
What is the best thing you have bought so far this year?
What is the earliest book you remember?
If you had to move to another country, which one would you choose?
You are the best criminal mastermind in the world. What crime would you commit if you knew you would get away with it?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
What was the last thing you ate?
What person from history would you add to Mount Rushmore?
What is a weird fact you know?
What is your favorite part of working from home?
Were the Spice Girls a good team?
Imagine you can instantly learn any language. Which would you choose?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Which fictional team is the best team of all time?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What do you usually eat for a quick lunch?
What simple food will you never eat?
Show us the weirdest thing you have in the room with you right now.
Would you rather stay at a hotel or an AirBNB?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
Who is someone in your community that makes a difference?
Who was your most unique pet?
Choose one famous person from history you want on your team during a zombie apocalypse.
What is a good way to give back to the community?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
Is Hugh Grant funny?
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Would you want to have an imaginary friend today? Did you have one as a child?
What actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life?
What is the best super power?
What is your New Years resolution?
You can only eat one food again for the rest of your life. What is it?
What is the best work holiday?
What is the first gift you remember receiving?
Would you rather join Metallica or Backstreet Boys?
What is the best example of a community you have seen?
What is an easy way to do something nice for someone?
Show us your phone background and tell the story behind why you picked this image.
What was your first job?
Pick any band to play at your funeral.
If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Which superpower would you give to your arch enemy?
What is the most obscure superpower you would want?
What emoji best describes how you are feeling right now?
If you could live in any country, which country would you pick?
Would you rather live in a city or a town?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is something you accomplished as part of a team?
What is your standard office lunch?
What is your most used phone app?
What is your favorite season?
Have you ever won something as a team?
Imagine you are a professional baseball player. What is your introduction song?
Beach holiday or ski trip?
Have you ever been to a funny comedy show?
Would you rather live at the North Pole or the South Pole?
What is your favorite song to sing?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Imagine you could teleport anywhere. Where would you go right now?
What is the most unusual job you have heard of?
What was the last thing you ate?
You can visit any fictional time or place. Which would you pick?
What do your family and friends think you do all day?
What movie do you wish you could watch again for the first time?
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What movie defined your generation?
You are stranded on a remote desert island. Are you alone or with your worst enemy?
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Have you ever told someone Santa is not real?
Do you know how to speak more than one language?
On a scale of 1 – 10, how much of a team player are you?
What is your #1 recommendation in this city?
What is your favorite holiday?
What bucket list item do you most want to check off in the next six months?
What is your favorite mythical creature?
What was the first way you made money?
If you could be great at any Olympic sport, which would it be?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
When did you start liking/hating mushrooms?
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Do you take your PTO all at one time, or another way?
Which show do you remember most from your childhood?
Which beverage goes best with pizza?
Would you want to have a personal assistant follow you around everywhere and do what you asked of them?
Have you ever met your idol?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future?
What is your hobby?
When you are alone in the car, what volume is the music at?
Imagine you no longer have to work. How would you spend a Tuesday?
What is your favorite type of sandwich?

When you're trying to accomplish a goal, it's easy to get frustrated when you feel like you aren't seeing the results that you want. But the truth is, many factors, both inside and outside of your control, can influence how quickly or easily you reach your goals. Even if you do everything right, there will be things that trip you up along the way.

The Pareto principle is an economic theory that recognizes this fact and helps us understand it better. In short, it says that in any given situation, 80% of the effects or outcomes come from 20% of the causes. If you're having trouble meeting your goals, this principle can help explain why what seems like a small amount of interference can stop you from achieving significant results.

What is the Pareto principle?

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. The Pareto principle is named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist who lived between 1848 and 1923. In 1906, he observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.  He extended this idea to other areas of life, such as business and technology, and found it held true across many aspects of society.

The important thing is to remember that the Pareto principle doesn't always apply. Sometimes it's not true at all! (We will discuss this further when we talk about the positives and negatives). But when it does apply, it can help you prioritize your efforts and get the most out of them.

What makes the Pareto principle so important?

The answer lies in how you use it. When you think about the things you need to accomplish in a day and realize that only 20 percent of those things actually matter, you're able to focus your efforts on what really counts. You don't have to do everything on your list right away; instead, prioritize and get the most important tasks done first. Once they're out of the way, you'll find it much easier to tackle everything else.

If you are having trouble keeping track of your goals or prioritizing tasks, you should try out Assembly's Goal Defining workflow. It will help you set your goals, make it easy to measure them, and define fears, challenges, and disputes so you can break each goal down into more manageable parts.

7 areas where the 80/20 rule can help your productivity

1. Prioritize your tasks.

To use the 80/20 rule, start with task prioritization and elimination. Which tasks are most important? Which ones are most urgent? Then, focus on those tasks first before moving on to less important or less urgent ones.

Using a Notebook can be a great step towards prioritizing tasks that are meaningful. 

2. Focus on what matters most to you and your business goals.
While it’s important to identify and prioritize what tasks are most important for you to accomplish each day, tracking all the activities can be a challenge. There are distractions, interruptions, and so many things that need to be tracked, meaning that you're likely to forget a lot.

Thankfully, a tool like Assembly's daily/weekly agenda workflow, can plan what needs to be done and keep track of due dates and progress. You’ll feel more comfortable knowing what needs to be done at each time and when it's due.

3. Get more done by delegating less important tasks to others or outsourcing them altogether (if possible). 

This will keep you focused on what matters while freeing up time for other projects or activities that are more important to you and your business goals.

4. Keep track of what's working and what isn't so that you can repeat successful strategies and avoid repeating unsuccessful ones (which will save time overall).

Assembly Insights | How to get actionable data from the Team Retrospective

5. Making decisions quickly and efficiently.
When you're faced with multiple options, it can be difficult to assess which one will bring you the greatest reward. The 80/20 rule helps give you insight into which path offers the best chance of success.

6. Reducing stress and pressure.
You don't have to do everything yourself or worry about how much work there is to do because you can focus on what matters most — the 20%. This means less stress and less pressure on yourself, which makes it easier for you to be productive in other areas of your life as well.

7. Learning fast from mistakes and failures.
If something doesn't go according to plan, it's often because there was too much going on at once or not enough attention was given to one area over another (or both). When something fails because of these factors, it's better for you to learn from your mistakes so you can make better decisions in the future than beating yourself up over what happened. Without the ability to reflect on past work, it is difficult to resolve problems that might be affecting your current work or plan for improvements in the future.

If you manage a team, Assembly's Team Retrospective Template can help your team create a positive, productive look-back practice by creating space for honest conversations and identifying opportunities to solve problems and improve future outcomes.

Pros and cons of the Pareto principle (80/20 Rule)

It helps you focus on what matters most. You can use this principle to help you find out what activities give you the biggest bang for your buck. This allows you put more effort into those activities instead of wasting time on low-yield tasks that don't provide much value.

You can also use it as a guide for prioritizing tasks when there's just not enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done. If certain tasks can provide more benefit than others, you should definitely prioritize those first!

Other advantages of using the Pareto principle:
  • It reduces stress by giving you clarity on what needs to be done.
  • You'll have more energy for high-impact activities.
  • It helps identify opportunities for improvement because it shows which parts of a process or system are working well and which aren't.

The biggest disadvantage of the Pareto Principle is that it encourages people to focus on a small number of tasks that produce the most results rather than doing all tasks equally well. Also, the Pareto principle is often used as an excuse for not doing anything about problems or issues that aren't part of the 'vital few' activities. This can lead to people focusing on the easy things instead of addressing the root causes of problems and issues.

Other disadvantages of using the Pareto principle:
  • It creates an incentive not to fix problems because they're "only 20%.
  • It doesn't take into account all possible causes.
  • It's an oversimplification.
  • It doesn't tell you how to improve your results.
Keep track of your one thousand and one tasks 

Keeping track of all your tasks can be a time-consuming chore, especially when your tasks are in different places. As your business grows, you may find yourself organizing more ideas and thoughts in digital formats. At some point, you'll need a single place to manage all of it — your to-do's, calendar events, projects, and thoughts.

Assembly's Notebook allows you to create, manage, and prioritize your tasks while organizing a beautiful directory of ideas and projects. Stop compromising on what matters most. Start prioritizing effectively by creating a beautiful directory for yourself that doesn't leave anything off the shelf. Get started here

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