Time Management Tip 2: Adhere to the Pareto Principle

Book in a Month: The Fool-Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D.

Have you heard of the Pareto principle, or the 80-20 rule? It is the principle that 20 percent of your time and effort generates 80 percent of the results, or that 80 percent of what you accomplish is caused by 20 percent of your effort. Most things in life were found to be distributed
this way, like the distribution of wealth: 80 percent of all the money goes to 20 percent of the people. Another example is the number of writers to the percentage of total books sold: 80 percent of books are sold by 20 percent of the authors.

So, if 20 percent of your effort causes 80 of your accomplishments, wouldn’t it be great if you focused on that 20 percent of result-getting effort 100 percent of the time? Of course it would! Think of all the free time you would have if you only had to do a fraction, the most effective part,
of the daily, too-often-unproductive grind. We all waste time and effort every single day. We do things that will get us nowhere, and that won’t yield any value in our lives. This stuff takes up 80 percent of our effort if we let it.

Don’t get confused here—this principle is not about being fast, but about slowing down and focusing on what is important to you. If you want to go to the country (your goal), you can go via the quick, less scenic route or the longer, more picturesque one. Both routes fit in with
the 80-20 principle—if you like to drive fast, then take a fast route; if you like to enjoy the scenery, then take the scenic route. You create your goal and then get there in the way that uses your skills and interests … your 20 percent.

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