Use the 80 20 Pareto Principle

80 20 Principle

The 80 20 Pareto Principle says that you will get 80% of your most productive work done in 20% of your time. Find that 20% of your time when you are most effective and guard it from interruptions.

If 80% of your time is less productive, imagine what you can get accomplished if by being intentional you made even a small improvement in productivity, regaining three, five or even ten percent of that time to use towards effective work.

We often complain of not having enough time. More often the problem is that we don't use our time very well. To be blunt, we waste our time on less important items when with a little planning we could make dramatic improvements on accomplishing more important tasks.

"There will always be a minority of methods, a minority of practitioners, a minority of reasons and approaches that produce overwhelmingly superior results. Identify these. Then multiply them. Automatically, performance will not just be improved; it will be multiplied."

Richard Koch, 80/20 Principle

Five Days of 80 20 Pareto Principle Coaching


Today review the 80/20 principle. Research it online. Read a book about it or listen to a podcast. Talk with other leaders and learn from their experiences and insights with 80/20. Think about how it can be applied to your own life, work and leadership.

The Coach asks: 

  • What are you learning about the 80 20 Pareto Principle?
  • How is this similar or different from your own situation?
  • What seems doable? 
  • How willing are you to make use of this principle?


Based on the thinking you've done on the 80/20 principle, today is your day to stretch. Find that 20% of your time when you are most effective and maximize your use of it.  What if you could make small improvements each and every week?  Take up the challenge to be increasingly effective.

The Coach asks:

  • When and where is your time most effectively used?
  • How can you maximize your use of it today?
  • What could this look like if you did it for several weeks in a row?
  • How committed are you, really, to being increasingly effective? 


Today, make a list of the ways in which you waste time. Be brutally honest. You're the only one who will see the list. Admit to yourself that you have absolutely wasted that time, and resolve to be conscious of your time-wasting habits in the future. You can't get that time back but you can change going forward. Make this shift today.

The Coach asks:

  • In the last week, where have you most wasted your time? 
  • What kind of stories (excuses) do you tell yourself about this time? 
  • What if you never changed and began reclaiming your productive time? 
  • How will you feel when you stop the waste and improve productivity?


Imagine achieving a one percent improvement in the overall efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of your operation this month. Just one percent. That seems not only very possible, but significant if carried on for ten months to a cumulative improvement of ten percent. Create a one percent challenge for your team.

The Coach asks: 

  • How hard or easy is a 1% effort for you? 
  • How significant would any 10% improvement be for you?
  • What would a 1% challenge look like for your team? 
  • What incentive would your team have to participate? 


The 80/20 principle applies across all sorts of situations. How else can you view it or use it to address other personal, professional or organizational situations? Become a student of 80/20 and let that new approach to your thinking influence your planning.

The Coach asks: 

  • Where else could you apply the 80 20 Pareto Principle? 
  • How will you keep the 80 20 Pareto Principle top of mind?
  • Who else in your orbit could benefit from this? 
  • What other actions will you commit yourself to? 

Spiritual Reflection for Christian Leaders

Gary Wood Christian Executive Leadership Coach

As a Christian Executive Leadership Coach I encourage Christian leaders to reflect on God's Word to add to their wisdom.

  • Mt 13:31  The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches. 
  • Heb 2:1  We must pay the most careful attention, therefire, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 
  • 1 Cor 13:13  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 
  • Ps 119:37  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
  • Mk 1:35  Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 
  • Pr 4:25 - 27  Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right of the left; keep your foot from evil. 

If you are a leader, executive, or senior level professional looking to work with a Christian Executive Coach, I invite you to connect with me here.

If appropriate, we can meet by phone or Zoom to discuss your situation.

Record Your Progress

This is your opportunity to track your progress. Start by asking yourself how important this practice is to you? Record the importance as - not at all, somewhat, fairly, highly or extremely. 

Now next to it ask yourself how well you carry out this practice. Record your performance as - very poor, poor, okay, good or very good. 

Importance Performance Check

The things we track, we pay attention to. Across time, come back and record your new results. You will find that as you are intentional about making improvements, you will bump your "score" up higher. 

This is significant. Don't miss the opportunity to acknowledge your success, and use it as a springboard for making even further gain. 


This book is helpful in understanding why the 80 20 Pareto Principle works. And is gives much more detail in how to make best use of it. 

The 80/20 Principle, The Secret of Achieving More with Less, Richard Koch, 

Here's a very interesting article on a number of areas where the 80 20 Pareto Principle has been observed and applied with success. 

Here's and article from Asana on how the 80 20 Principle can be used for productivity, quality control and decision-making. 

Of course there are many more insightful articles, podcasts and books that make use of the Pareto Principle. You might want to start with an online search to get you going. 

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