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The Pareto Principle: What it says

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What is the Pareto Principle?

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of the results of a project can be achieved with 20% of the entire input. To achieve the remaining 20% takes 80% of the effort. The Pareto Principle is therefore often known as the 80/20 rule. The Pareto Principle got its name from the 19th century Italian engineer, economist and sociologist Vilfredo Federico Pareto. He investigated the distribution of land ownership in Italy and established that around 20% of the population owned 80% of the land. The other 80% of the population owned the remaining 20%. He found a similar imbalance in income distribution, and in 1989, it was discovered that 20% of the world’s population own 80% of its wealth. The Pareto Principle thus found its way into statistics. Pareto distribution describes the phenomenon when a small number of high values within a set of values contribute more to the total value than the high number of small values within that set. The Pareto Principle is derived from this, on the basis that many tasks can be completed with a low input - around 20% - to achieve 80% of the results.

What does the Pareto Principle have to do with time management?

The Pareto Principle is a method of time management to prioritize the important parts of a project. A great illustration is an example from daily life: the household. If you superficially clean and tidy the apartment, it will quickly look clean and orderly, at least at first sight. However, if you clean extremely thoroughly, including in the corners, behind the cupboard and under the beds, the process will take considerably more time. Expressing this in numbers, after the superficial clean, a visible state of order of about 80% has been reached. But only with the second thorough clean will you achieve 100% order and cleanliness. It takes only 20% of the time for the first superficial pass, but 80% for the second thorough pass. This is a practical example of the Pareto Principle in everyday time management.

What does the Pareto Principle achieve?

People who go through the work day without feeling stressed and nevertheless create the impression of having done more work than others have, often unconsciously, used the Pareto Principle. They do not always strive to achieve 100% perfect quality, because they realize that they would not achieve all their daily work if they undertook the extra 80% input required. With the Pareto principle, they have more time for relaxation, so they can recharge their batteries and create more energy for work. The application of the Pareto principle can therefore have a very motivating effect both in everyday and working life.

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