Achieve Enough with Less Effort (Pareto Principle)

The Pareto Principle, also called 80/20 rule

The Pareto Principle, also called 80/20 rule

To my mind, it is impossible to write about self-improvement without addressing the Pareto Principle. Pareto was an Italian economist who observed (at the beginning of the 20th century) that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people. This principle seems to be valid in many contexts in which statistical phenomena are observed. Beyond statistics, you can also rephrase it.

This principle is often called 80/20 rule. Depending on the setting it can also be a 90/10 rule or a 60/40 rule, the former being even more pronounced and the latter just slightly away from equality of cause with effect.

We can apply this 80/20 rule to the four rules of Lean Self:

  1. Empower yourself, never blame yourself or others.
    ==> 80% of self-empowerment comes from changing 20% of your life.
  2. Believe that everything can be simpler and better than it is right now.
    ==> 80% of improvement can be achieved with 20% of the effort which would be required for a 100% improvement.
  3. Always look out to identify eliminate waste in your life.
    ==> 80% of waste is coming from 20% of your activities or
    ==> 20% of what you do adds real value, the rest is under suspicion to create waste.
  4. Rigorously apply lean tools and techniques in all aspects of your life.
    ==> Rigorous enough can be to apply Lean approaches to 20% of your life, causing 80% of the positive effects.

Regarding the ever unreachable goal of perfection, this principle is also relieving the pressure. Look at the graph you see above. You can get:

  • 60% effect with 3% effort
  • 80% effect with 20% effort
  • 90% effect with roughly 50% effort
  • 96% effect with 80% effort
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