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Living the 80/20 Way

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Are you making the most out of your life? Or do you spend your days running around, scrambling to get work done?

What if you could spend your time more productively?

You can, if you follow the 80/20 principle. It states that 20 percent of your time and resources goes into 80 percent of the results. Thus 20 percent of a record label’s artists generate 80 percent of sales; and the world’s top 20 percent of people generate 80 percent of its wealth.

We tend to believe that if we spend as much time as possible working, we’ll be the most productive. Yet if you apply the 80/20 principle, you would realize that the best way to achieve more is to work less!

Set a destination to follow 80/20 rule and then go for it!

Let’s say you want to take a vacation. First, you choose a destination, and then you figure out how to get there. And then finally, you go!

It’s simple, right? Luckily it’s exactly the same process you can use to change your life and start living by the 80/20 principle.

So first, pick a destination: Where do you want the 80/20 principle to take you?

Reflect upon your dreams, goals and objectives. Ask yourself, “What’s the best 20 percent of my life on which I’d like to focus?”

For instance, if you want to become a better salesperson, you could take lessons, find a mentor, get an entry-level job, and so on. All you need to do is figure out which path will get you where you want to go in the fastest and easiest way possible.

And lastly, remember to actually go!

You need to take action and start moving. But keep the 80/20 principle in mind: You’re trying to get the maximum result from a minimum amount of effort.

Focus your attention on your happiness islands: what is it that gives you the most pleasure?

Once you commit to producing the best results with the least amount of effort, you need to figure out how to make the most of the time you have.

So whether you’re a freelance designer or a postman, if you dedicate yourself to working harder for a shorter period of time, you’ll find your work improved and your free time expanded.

But how can you actually achieve this effective use of your time?

You can start by identifying your happiness islands (times when you feel happiest) and achievement islands (times when you are the most creative or productive). And once you’ve identified these islands in your own life, you can maximize your output by focusing on them.

That’s exactly what Richard Adams did. Adams was a mid-level bureaucrat in the British civil service, and his job was boring and hours long. But he did experience periods of happiness outside of work, especially when he told stories to his daughters.

He started to focus on these small islands of happiness. He then wrote down the stories, and they eventually became his best-selling book, Watership Down. From small happiness islands in a sea of boredom came success!

So ultimately, when you let go of your notions about the scarcity of time and start working intelligently, you can achieve miracles.

The key message in this Article:

The 80/20 principle says that 80 percent of what we want is generated by 20 percent of what we actually do. In other words, if you figure out what you want and focus on what makes you happy, you’ll be able to create more with less.

Actionable advice:

Make a list of things that actually matter to you and then focus your energy on them.

Doing so will prioritize your happiness and fulfillment. And it has an added benefit: When you focus on yourself and what you really want, you stop wasting as much energy worrying about what other people think of you.

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