Vilfredo Pareto, perhaps gazing out at Italy or his patch or peas?

Vilfredo Pareto, perhaps gazing out at Italy or his patch or peas?


Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle?  Sometimes it’s referred to as the 80/20 rule.

In 1906 an Italian economist , Vilfredo Pareto,  noted that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people, then on a horticultural front, noted that 20% of his  peapods contained 80% of the peas ( how’s  that for diversity of application!).  This principle has since been translated into business, 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients, 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers…

So how about applying this principle in your life?

At work, what are the top 20% of things you should be focussing your efforts on?  Tacking the big stuff (your top 20%) first will give you big gains, whilst you could think about delegating the smaller stuff (the other 80%) to somebody in your team (helping them to learn the ropes). If you are in the midst of  climbing the corporate ladder, can you find an opportunity to step up and tackle one of the big tricky problems?

At home, can 20% of your cleaning give you 80% of your ‘clean house’ satisfaction?

I tested this theory out this week. Cleaning our castle takes me about 5-6 hours, which means I should get the most bang out my cleaning buck for about 1.5 hours.  Coincidently (or not – according to the Pareto Principle), this is about the time it takes me to clean our ‘high traffic areas’  kitchen/ living room. Though this is totally unscientific, I found that yes I did feel like I had a much cleaner house after that initial 1.5 hours. Now if only I could find someone to clean the ‘less satisfying’ parts… my kids maybe?

What if I applied it to de-cluttering? I decided to target Little L’s wardrobe – an amazingly large collection of clothes, shoes and accessories (fairy wings anyone) all thanks to hand-me-downs and being the youngest (if the bigger kids get a new top, so does Little L- does anyone else apply this ‘equality’ to their tribe?).  So using the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule, I decided to keep the clothes she wore 80% of the time, the items on high rotation.  I employed a highly complex technique of a dedicated (separate) washing basket for the week, then everything left in her giant wardrobe was sorted and most of it donated. Presto! 

Can you think of other ways to apply this handy little principle?

Enjoy xx

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