80 to 20 RULE. How to use it as a Project Manager?

Have you ever heard about the 80 20 rule OR the Pareto Principle?

Why do some people work hard and get few outcomes while others can get incredible results spending only a few hours only?

In reality this ratio does not always equal 80 to 20. It could be 70 to 30, 90 to 10 or 99 to 1. 

However, the idea of the vital few is applicable to all the cases. And it also lays closely with productivity. 

Today we will talk about the 80 to 20 principle EXAMPLES and will find out how to apply it in Project Management and to increase your productivity from both Personal and Professional perspective.

80 20 Rule Dad

First of all, who is that guy? Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian civil engineer and economist. Vilfredo made several important contributions to economics, particularly in the study of income distribution and initially his 80 20 rule was a simple observation; such as that 80% of the wealth in Italy belonged to about 20% of the population.

These days his work is known as The Pareto principle which states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. Other names for this principle are the 80/20 rule, or the law of the vital few.

In the reality this ratio does not always equal 80 to 20. It could be 70 to 30, 90 to 10 or 99 to 1. However, the idea of the vital few is applicable to all the cases. And it also lays closely with productivity. BTW, make sure to check this video to get more of the productivity tips that you can use on a daily basis.

Where can you see the 80 20 Rule?

Now when we are done with theory, let’s see where we can find examples in the Project Management real life.

Project Scope

If we look at the project scope, in the majority of cases only few core items will be vital in terms of the priority to release the product.

When the client comes with the idea, there is usually a long-long list of the initial requirements that we need to prioritise. Once this exercise is done, most likely we will get a cut list on those vital views.

These are the must haves from the long list of nice to haves that we usually include in MVP.

Be sure to check this video for getting more about the Project Scope.

Stand Up meeting rules

Vital Stakeholders

As you know, every project may have a lot of stakeholders as a stakeholder is a person who may impact OR could be impacted by the project.

However, if we look at the list of stakeholders, we will see there are only few people who make key decision and usually to get things done we need to focus on our collaboration with them.

Project Risks

When it comes to project risks, if we work carefully with them in this case we will usually have a long list of items in our risk register. Nevertheless, we can see the real situation only after the qualitative analysis.

If we review all the project risks, only the smaller percentage of them are really critical that can have serious impact and huge probability that we need to pay special attention to.

Daily Routine

When you plan you business day, most lik ely you will come up with a long to-do list. However, once the activities are priorities, you will see that you have a few critical items you need to deal with and about 80 % of choir around it.

Thus, instead of hopping from one task to another (or task-hopping as I say in the article about multi-tasking), it is better focus on the VITAL FEW and get the 80 percent of work done.

Day-To-Day Life

And not only this! If we go deeper and review each case individually, we will see that in many cases about 80% of our effort is useless for getting the final result. Let’s take some random activity like jogging.

We talk about people who are not professional runners but who go running with an idea of being fit and healthy. In this case, most likely you will be preparing by choosing the suitable day and time, by picking what to put on. Then you will take time to warm yourself and maybe will be doing breaks during your distance. What is more, if this is something you do not really enjoy, it will take even more effort to get things done.

Considering the above, what’s gonna be the % of time / effort you will spend on actual running?

And you know what? It applies to everything around you.

To use this 80 to 20 principle efficiently you need to clearly see the vital few and focus on it. Should it be your professional or private life, you can apply this rule to all the aspects of it. And the more you analyse what you do, the better you will see the core items you need to focus on to turn this principle around meaning to get 80% of outcome applying only 20% of your effort.

Do you see how 80 20 Rule applies to your life? Let me know in comments!