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The 80/20 Principle

Focus on the critical 20% and see the biggest results.

Wouldn’t you like to work less and get the same or better results? I sure would. It’s easier than you might believe. Richard Koch in his book, The 80/20 Principle, defines this secret to success. I found the statistics to be fascinating and the application of this principle to business rings alarmingly true. I think back to when I was in college and realize how much I SHOULD have practiced the 80/20 principle.

Did you know?

  • 20% of motorists account for 80% of accidents?
  • 20% of streets account for 80% of the traffic.
  • 20% of married couples account for 80% of divorces.
  • 20% of clients account for 80% of profits.
  • My favorite, 20% of beer drinkers drink 80% of the beer!

Koch lists many more.

If 20% of what you do leads to 80% of your results, according to Koch, then TIME shouldn’t be a factor in doing what is important to us.

We talk about the power of focus to accomplish a task. If we only focus 20% of the time on the important stuff, no wonder we always feel like we’re struggling. What are you really doing the other 80%?

Koch also states that it is important to focus on what you find easy. Don’t you find that advice surprising? If you’re like me, you tend to equate focus and challenge as if they were one in the same. The 20% of productive time spent doesn’t have to be grueling. What an enlightening thought!

When you are trying to develop something new, it is very easy to get stuck in the “everything is equally important” phase.

When my husband and I were building our manufacturing business, every single job was like gold and every single customer was equally vital to our success.  It takes experience, confidence, and most of all INTENTION to realize what 20% is bringing you in the most profit. If you spend 80% of your time satisfying customers who are not as profitable, that’s time NOT spent on those that are.

This train of thought caused us to make several changes in our business. We eliminated all walk-in business. We turned a business that was originally 85% award and 15 % industrial nameplates to a business that is now 95%+ industrial nameplates and less than 5% awards. Is my time better spent with a customer in my lobby for an hour to sell one plaque or reviewing aerospace specifications for a multi-part label job that will have repeat orders? Pretty obvious, huh?

Now that you have a grasp on the importance of looking how you spend your time (might want to examine that TODAY!), how can we apply this principle to our health?

As Koch indicates, 20% of your healthy eating habits account for 80% of your health gains. WOW– this should give everyone struggling out there HOPE!

Small changes matter!  

Here is your assignment:

  • Examine your 20% that yields results that matter to you.
  • Add one small choice this week that supports your 20%.
  • Eliminate one task, habit, or commitment this week that is part of your 80%.

This very exercise helped me find the courage to start this blog.  It wasn’t a lack of time holding me back. Baby steps just seemed so insignificant because, well, they’re baby steps. Over time the steps turned into leaps and now I’m writing this post:).

When you put your focus in tasks that yield you the best results, you get 2 freebies. Less procrastination. Fewer dreaded tasks. Who doesn’t want that?!

"Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least. " Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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  1. Donna Krebill #

    Great baby steps! Also sounds like a follow-up to Eating An Elephant One Bite At A Time (Sid’s Sense, April 10 on this blog). Appreciated the review of Richard Koch’s 80/20 Principle. Makes a lot of sense.

    April 30, 2012
  2. Brianna Ortbals #

    I like it a lot! It’s a very insightful concept. My only problem is figuring out how to hone in on that 20% and figure out what exactly is the most important part to focus on…whether it is in my studies or life in general.

    April 30, 2012
    • Andrew Ortbals #

      Deep down in your gut you know what that 20% is. Usually the 20% isn’t the fun stuff of life. It’s working late to get a job done, studying for a test, working out every morning to keep yourself fit. Concentrating on the 20% and not procrastinating on the tuff stuff will make the other 80% a cake walk!

      May 4, 2012

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