The Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Principle is actually quite simple: only 20% of any given whole will yield 80% of the total value of your effort. This means if you have ten things to do, it is highly probable that there are only two items on your list that will provide the highest advantage or benefit, overall.
Does this mean that you can begin ignoring the stuff that you have to do in favor of a handful of tasks? Not really. There is actually a lot of stuff that we have to do on a daily basis that doesn’t really rake in the rewards. For example, taking out the trash is definitely not on my list of “most rewarding things to do.” Do I skip it? Definitely not, because my house will become roach-infested if I ignore this daily chore. However, with my knowledge of the Pareto Principle, I do make sure that I am able to set aside more than enough time so I can focus on tasks that will really “bring home the bacon,” so to speak.
The 80/20 Principle is excellent for individuals who have a tough time prioritizing their tasks, whether at home or in the office/business. It is quite common for people to have twenty or more tasks to do; there has to be a reliable way to prioritize, so that the tasks that will bring in the most benefit will be given ample space on the top of the list.
So remember: it is imperative that you find the tasks that will give you the most valuable outcomes, so you can focus on these first (ideally). If you cannot focus on these tasks first, at least set aside more than enough time to tackle them one by one.
There is an old saying that is frequently given exposure in our modern epoch, when people feel bogged down by all the things that they have to do with business, work, family, etc.: don’t forget the small things.
While I agree that small things, like playing with your children, are essential to personal happiness and satisfaction, it should be noted early on that if you choose to accomplish all the small things in one fell swoop every single day, you will not be able to accomplish other responsibilities and tasks that are just as important to other facets/dimensions of your life.
If you have two or three really important tasks that have something to do with your finances, or some other urgent matter, you have to fight the temptation to deal with all of the “small things” first, before panning your attention to urgent tasks. The main reason why this is a really impractical way of doing things is that the “small things” that we are often preoccupied with usually take a lot of time to accomplish. These minor tasks may not be difficult or mentally taxing, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t consume your time and energy.
Dealing with a handful of minor tasks on your list every day isn’t a bad amount. However, if you try to accomplish all of the smaller tasks before dealing with the most important
ones, you will eventually run out of energy, time, and motivation to keep going. It is best to balance the number and types of tasks that you do on a daily basis. If you have a lot of chores and other minor tasks on your to-do list, try to prioritize these small tasks as well, and make sure you set a fixed timeframe for each of these tasks.
For example, checking your email on a daily basis is important but it is to be considered a “small thing” only because it doesn’t provide a large benefit or return, generally speaking. Many people have a tough time managing their time when checking their email, because they don’t set a time limit and they end up doing other unrelated tasks while checking their mail. Unless you are actively working on a project or some other productive task while checking your email, avoid dawdling while reading and answering your email.
Be systematic when performing small tasks, to save on time, effort, and energy. You must understand that your personal resources in terms of accomplishing tasks are inherently limited, so you must always spend these resources wisely at all times. This is a challenge in itself, but don’t worry: the more you practice, the more you will master the fine details of personal resources management.