Achieve More with Less: The Power of the 80/20 Rule

March 12, 2019

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It’s called the Pareto principle, and it states that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. This could be for anything: 80 percent of sales come from 20 percent of the customers, 80 percent of injuries are caused by 20 percent of hazards, 80 percent of points are scored by 20 percent of players on a team. You get the picture. The point is that a small concentration of energy, resources, talent or some other quality can create an immense impact.

This is important to know as Purposeful Hustlers, especially when we think about how to use our time.

Once again, it’s all about focus.


I’ve made my own amended version of this rule to make my days more productive. It’s called the 80/120 rule.

I’ve realized that rather than trying to do 100 percent of everything on my plate, I can be way more effective if I focus 120 percent of my energy on 80 percent of my tasks. Essentially, we don’t have to do it all, but what we do, we owe our full attention so we can do it well.


Here are some tips for how to better focus on what is worthy of your 120 percent:


Remind yourself of your purpose daily.

When you know your purpose, you can feel more confident about pursuing what matters most. Write it out often. Know it by heart. Have mantras that remind you why you care about the work that you do.

Highlight 3 things on your list each day.

Each morning, select three things on your to-do list that you will accomplish, and then accomplish them. Be realistic in your goals and accountable to your commitment. This is incredibly liberating because even when your to-do list seems to never end, you know that you are making progress by knocking out the most important things one day at a time. That’s all we can ask of ourselves, after all!

Learn how to say no.

Productivity and impact are dependent on choices, and that means choosing to say no. You don’t need to attend every event, join every project, take on every role. Just because an opportunity is presented to you does not mean it is right for you. Stay disciplined in your Purposeful Hustle and know that saying no does not limit the impact you can have, but it reserves your energy and time for the work that matters most to you so you can have the greatest impact.

Be gentle with yourself.

Remind yourself constantly that you don’t need to do it all. You just need to show up with your full self to do the purposeful work that is yours. Remembering this, honoring your gifts, thinking kind thoughts about yourself, and pushing against the notion that we are defined only by what we produce is a radical act of self-love and resistance that you are more than deserving of.

Celebrate your victories.

You are allowed to enjoy your accomplishments. Call a trusted friend to brag. Have a dance party. Take a moment to reflect. Let your daily progress nourish you. This gratitude and joy will sustain you in your Purposeful Hustle. We need the wins to keep going, even the smallest ones.

This 80/120 rule has made all the difference for me. There is no need to aim for 100 percent success because as long as I do 80 percent with 120 percent of all I’ve got, I know that I am still winning. That is not meant to be complicated math. It is just to say that being able to identify what will really make a difference is way more powerful than trying to get EVERYTHING done. You have to make some hard choices, but in the end, if you are focused on the things that are most important to you, the other things become obsolete.

I hope you find peace in this rule too!



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