You have probably heard or read something about the Pareto principle or the 80-20 rule. Especially if you are interested in self and time management at work or in everyday life, you will definitely come across this term. What exactly is this principle all about, how can it be implemented in practice and what pitfalls can it hide? Read more about this below and consider whether and how you can have a positive impact on your own life.

The Pareto principle is often used in project management

pareto principle diagram

What is the Pareto Principle??

Vilfredo Pareto (1848–1923), an Italian economist and sociologist, discovered the principle of the same name at the end of the 19th century. He observed a social phenomenon, namely the statistical imbalance between rich and poor Italian families. Pareto found that around 80% of total wealth in Italy was concentrated in just 20% of Italian families.

Therefore, banks should focus on this smaller portion in order to work more effectively and make a bigger profit.

Over time it has been proven that this phenomenon can also be found in other areas of life. Since then, the principle has also been known as the so-called Pareto effect. This can be interpreted as follows, especially with regard to time management: 80% of the optimal result can be achieved with only 20% effort.

Work and act more efficiently and effectively with this principle

pareto principle tips

In other words, by applying this principle you can save a lot of time and effort and still achieve a lot. In many cases, this can mean less stress and more time for other important things in life. Nowadays, many people already work in the home office. You are forced to master the balancing act between job, household, homeschooling, relationship and family life even more flexibly. In addition, time and self-management prove to be even more important.

Minimize stress and at the same time increase your own productivity

time management with the pareto principle

How does the Pareto principle work in practice??

In order to get the most out of the 80-20 rule, you should first be sure what your priorities are. This applies to both work and private life or in every single activity. In each specific case, as well as for each person, these look different and can also change over time. In addition to traditional to-do lists, there are a few other techniques that will help you set your priorities correctly. The most famous of these are Eisenhower principle and the ABC analysis. In the first, the tasks are sorted into four squares according to importance and urgency and either done by yourself or delegated in sequence. The second method is again about importance and the tasks are divided into three groups (A, B and C).

Basically, when applying the Pareto principle, one should rather give up perfectionism and gain more free time. There are, of course, a few things that you should be aware of in order not to make a mistake. Read about it below.

Learning and working can be much more effective with the 80-20 rule

pareto principle tips home office

Pareto Principle Examples for Everyday Life

Incidentally, the Pareto principle can be implemented in many areas of life. When it comes to minimalism in lifestyle or furnishing, the principle is an excellent way of getting rid of the unnecessary little things and only concentrating on the bare essentials. It happens too often that, for example, only 20% of the clothing in your closet is actually worn and used up to 80% of the time. Or that only a fraction of the items and furniture in your facility actually serve a purpose.

The 80-20 rule is just as useful when it comes to weight loss, zero waste, exercise or learning. Anyone can then simply apply these in peace and quiet, tailor-made for themselves and the specific situation.

Only 20% of the food consists of sweets, the most important nutrients come from the remaining 80%

pareto principle when eating lose weight

What are the pitfalls of the Pareto principle?

When applying the 80-20 rule, one should never forget that this is not a persistent dogma, but rather an orientation value. It is much more about a certain way of thinking, about a helpful tool that should only be used carefully and with a lot of reflection. Otherwise you run the risk of setting your priorities incorrectly and still concentrating on tasks that are not decisive for a certain project or specific activity.

In some areas of life and professional activities, the Pareto principle also makes less or no sense. Above all, creative people such as artists, designers, developers and writers are meant, as well as software programmers and the like. In these cases, sometimes details can be extremely important and missed by applying the 80-20 rule. Perfectionism is an indispensable part of some professions, and it shouldn’t be.

Use the Pareto principle with caution

pareto principle of success


Only use the 80-20 rule when it comes to areas and tasks that need greater efficiency and are more rational and precise. This could often be very useful as a method for time management in the office, home office or while studying. But always stay critical and question your real priorities and goals. Do not be a victim of unnecessary perfectionism, but do not reject it for no reason. Certain professions and activities require optimal precision, which cannot be achieved using the Pareto principle.

Stay relaxed and set your priorities right!

home office work pareto principle

The 80-20 rule can be of great help to you in many areas

home office pareto principle

Learn how proper relaxation works

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Don’t overdo it with the hours of work either

pareto principle work at home

Stick to the essentials at work meetings

pareto principle project time management

Try to use the Pareto principle in your next project

pareto principle of time management projects

Enjoy the precious free time for the things that are really good for you!

pareto principle nature relax

love relationships pareto principle

playing the pareto principle   pareto principle of time management