“All right guys, let’s work smarter, not harder.” These words were spoken cheerfully by my employer, and I had gotten used to hearing them a few times a week. This phrase was my introduction to the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80-20 rule. The Pareto Principle is named after the Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto, who demonstrated a reoccurring pattern with these two numbers. Pareto showed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by the wealthiest 20%. He extended this experiment to his garden, where he demonstrated that 20% of the pea-pods contained 80% of the peas (As a side note, when I read this I laughed, and wondered how one thinks up such an experiment).
No doubt, Vilfredo Pareto was an interesting and eccentric man. Nevertheless, his research does make a powerful point–especially when applied to blogging and leadership. Blogging activities are not created equally. [Tweet “Some tasks produce results that are worthy of our time. Others do not.”] According to Pareto 20% of our work results in 80% of our productivity. This also means that 80% of our efforts only produce a 20% return.
The key to becoming an effective blogger is to discover the 20% activities that produce the best results and to make these the priority. The phrase “Let’s work smarter and not harder,” is an excellent reminder to put the 80-20 rule into action.
Why The 80-20 Rule Matters
In the 1930s, Economist John Maynard questioned how people would keep themselves busy when they only had to work 15 hours a week. Maynard suggested an impending economic bliss and stated, “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem-how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him.” Maynard’s math suggested that by the 1980s, Americans would be working approximately 2.5 hours a day.
Sadly, Maynard’s prediction never came to pass. Instead of working less, people are working more. There are full-time jobs, side-jobs, and dream-jobs. Many people find themselves working a combination of each. I expect, that for many who read this post, writing, blogging, and teaching are dream jobs, while the 9-5 job is a means of sustaining oneself until the doors swing open, and the income from the dream-job catches up.
But economics is not the only reason you and I are so busy. Luxuries like Netflix, and Kindle Unlimited, put a lifetime of movies and books at our fingertips. And today’s parents are well aware that the difficulty is not finding sports, clubs, and after-school activities for our children. The real dilemma is deciding which of the many available options we will enroll them in!
Our lack of economic bliss, combined with people’s driving desire to take advantage of as many options as possible–I know I certainly fall into this trap–our world is busier than ever before! Thus, the Pareto Principle is especially relevant to our generation.
The 80-20 Rule for Bloggers and Authors
The 80-20 rule is pragmatic. It is all about focusing on the actions that produce the highest return. Earlier this month, I tried an experiment. I created a free eBook on happiness. I sent out a tweet, pinned that tweet to the front of my twitter page, and asked my friends to re-tweet it. It was a good tweet. It received 4,739 impressions and 67 engagements, thus far. However, the link attached to that tweet only received 1 click, and that click was mine–I had to make sure the link worked 🙂
From this experiment, I was able to conclude that as much as I like Twitter, it is not part of the 20% of activities that drives the majority of traffic to this website. As a husband to an incredible wife, a daddy to three amazing girls–with our fourth due in April–and as someone who is working a number of jobs while pursuing his dream job, the Pareto Principle is becoming more important to me than ever before. [Tweet “I want to spend my life focused on the things that matter!”] Since 20% of our actions, produce 80% of the results, what if…
- What if, as a writer, I focused on getting the key 20% done first?
- What if, a dad, I took the time to be fully present for my children during the 20% of time together that is most meaningful to them?
- What if, as a husband, the 20% that is most meaningful to my wife, became my highest priority?
Though it looks odd when I write it this way, I want to be a 20% husband, dad, and author. That is, I want to focus on the things that matter most. On those busy days, when life happens, I want to know the 20% has been accomplished, the 80% can wait.
My 80-20 Experiment
The interesting thing about blogging is that there is not a hard and fast rule about the 20% that matters most. Some bloggers find awesome engagement though Twitter, while others are Pinterest masters. One blogger builds his site by writing daily. Another attributes his success in writing a few posts and promoting them often. The 20% that brings the greatest results can vary from person to person. This is why I’m in the process of trying new things out and experimenting. I’m in the process of searching for my 20%.
How about you? Are you potting the 80-20 rule into action by becoming laser-focused on the actions that produce the biggest results? What are you doing to discover and hone in on your 20%? I would love to hear from you and continue the conversation in the comments below. Wishing you an incredible week filled with many 20% moments in your writing, family, and leadership!
For more writing ideas, be sure to visit our writing resources page. I pull back the curtain and show you all of my favorite writing resources. You can also check out my book Ten Great Ideas for Authors, where you will discover creative writing prompts and strategies to jump-start your author journey. I truly believe you are only one great idea away from writing success!
Family, Friendship, and Faith Link-Up
This link-up is an excellent place to meet new friends, network, and share your posts. Please feel free to include any family, friendship, and faith-related posts. If you have time, please visit some of the other submissions, leave a comment, and make some new connections–after all, this is what teaming-up is all about!
[Tweet “I’m Teaming-up at the #Family #Friendship and #Faith link-up. Join the Party! “]