A life hack is a simple yet ingenious way of accomplishing something. But life hacks typically only apply to one specific task. The 80/20 Principle was the original life-hack and remains the ultimate life-hack, because it applies to just about everything.
What is the 80/20 Principle? Also known as Pareto’s Law, the 80/20 Principle asserts that 80% of outcomes are the result of 20% of causes. The idea has been popular in business for a long time. For example, in business 80% of profits may be produced by 20% of products, or 20% of customers might account for 80% of sales. But the 80/20 Principle can be found almost everywhere you turn. 20% of drivers cause 80% of accidents. 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals. 20% of words account for 80% of word use. 80% of pollution originates from 20% of factories. 20% of patients use 80% of health-care resources.
But what does all this mean to you and your everyday activity? It means that 20% of your activities produce 80% of the positive results in your life. Do you know which activities make up the 20%? Because knowing that will change your life.
It’s all about focusing on the vital few rather than the trivial many. But the reality is most we of us tend to focus on the trivial many and neglect the vital few. We give our best time, attention, and energy to the things that matter least, and procrastinate about the things that matter most. We spend our lives doing the urgent things, rather than the important things.
Let me explain it in even more practical terms. Eight out of ten things on your to do list will add little value to your life. Or to look at it more positively, two of the ten things on your to do list will add more value than the other eight combined.
Two are worth more than the other eight, but the tragic truth is we keep ourselves always busy with the trivial many and neglect the vital few.
Would you like to accomplish more by doing less? If so, make the 80/20 principle your new best friend. Resist the temptation to do all the little things first, start each day with whatever matters most. Give that your best time, effort, attention, and energy.
Your future self will thank you.
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