Prioritize Your Tasks With The Pareto Principle

Time Management 101

What Is The Pareto Principle?

The Pareto Principle is also called 80 20 rule is the number one rule of time management, which states that twenty percent of your actions generate eighty percent of your income or get you closer to whatever goal that you are wanting to accomplish.

Parento Priciple Definition-You need to discover the twenty percent of tasks that will get you closer to your goals. When you know what these tasks are, you’ll be able to make smarter business decisions by beign able to use your time more effectively.

In order to effectively use the 80 20 rule, you will first need to prioritize.   Prioritizing, in theory, it is easy to do: Pick your most important job first, finish it, and then go on down the line to your next most crucial job until you are finished. However, when prioritizing can be tricky. However, the benefits of effectively prioritizing tasks are well worth it because when you effectively prioritize, you are more likely to accomplish meaningful tasks, do less “Busy Work,” and every day get closer to your goals.

This article primarily addresses the Pareto Principle’s use in business.  However, the 80 20 rule and also applies to any goals you want to accomplish.   For example, a college student’s time would, most likely, be spent better to start typing his term paper than to organize his notes.

What Questions Need To Be Asked To Determine What Projects Should You Prioritize First?

1. Can It Be  Done By Someone Else or Does It Even Need To Be Done at All?

First of all, ask yourself if the job even needs to be done.  If so, is it essential that you do the project or projects? Therefore, assuming you can afford it, you should only do “essential jobs.”

Essential jobs are tasks that can only be done by you.  For example, if you’re a New York Times bestselling author, your most valuable task is writing your next novel,  and If you’re a fitness coach, your most important job is to coach clients.

So, If you’re working on a project that can be done by someone else, don’t be afraid to outsource or give the job to a junior employee.   Properly outsourcing allow you to “Do what you do best,” which will mean increased productivity

2.   Is This Job Getting Me To My Goals Quickest?

Your most valuable tasks are income generators or jobs that allow you to accomplish your goals.   So, even before you start to work, you need to discover what makes you the most money and gets you closer to your goals.

This principle is fundamental to understand; so, you don’t spend too much time on non-income generating jobs. For example, if you own a warehouse, spending two hours fussing over your Facebook header or fussing over your website, colors are not helping you make more cash.

To do the above,  ask your self the following questions and

  1. Do I even need to do this task? If it’s busy work or doesn’t need to be completed for months, do something else.
  2. Will this job make me the most money or help me accomplish my goal?  If yes, assuming the job cannot be delegated, you should do the job.
  3. Is there something else that I can do that will allow me to earn more cash or get me closer to my objective?  If yes, then you should do that job.
  4. Can I delegate this task? If the answer is yes, assuming you can afford to delegate and there is other more pressing work to be done, you need to delegate that task.

3.  Does This Project Energize Me?

.The top business owners love doing their chosen profession and feels a deep sense of accomplishment, and excitement when they finish a job, which gets them closer to their goal. (If you don’t feel this way, you should consider taking a break or perhaps finding a new profession)  On the other hand, as a small business owner, you almost always recognize when you are doing “busy work” or work that can be easily delegated.   Therefore, the most valuable tasks are almost always the ones that excite you the most.  Therefore, a good rule of thumb is that If you love a project, which fires you up, the chances are high that it’s an essential task, and you should do that job first.

4.  What If You Either Hate Or Find An Essential Task Dull?

Granted, not all the work that you are going to do is enjoyable.  However, some of your dreaded work is essential.  First of all, when it comes to tasks that you dread, you should evaluate whether the job even needs to be done at all.  For example, you could be holding onto outdated advice or that your business has changed so much that you no longer need to do the job.  Assuming the hated responsibility is necessary, you then need to ask yourself if the task can be delegated to a co-worker or employee or outsourced. Consequently, assuming you have the budget, if the answer is yes, you should either delegate or hire a service to do that job.

Tip-At the beginning of each new year, you should evaluate your work, looking for the truly valuable tasks that are on your plate. Don’t be afraid to let go or outsource your eighty percent tasks so you can embrace your twenty percent ones that make you the most money.


3. Are You  Doing Busy Work?

.You’ve re-organized your desk and added a snazzy new cover for your Facebook page.   However,  you soon realize that doing that isn’t going to do anything that will truly help you build your business and make you money.   What you just did is  “Busy Work.”

Busy Work Definition-is work that keeps you busy; but provides little or no benefit.

To keep busy work from stealing your productivity, you have to understand what it is. Even more importantly, you need to know why you’re doing this busywork so that you can tackle the real root of the problem

BusyWork Can Be Deceptive

When you are playing video games, taking a nap, or gossiping, you realize that you are not doing working.  However,  what’s especially bad about busywork is that it can fool you into thinking that you are accomplishing something. You may feel like your getting closer to your goals.  But, at the end of your day, you will have made little if any, real progress toward your goals.

Busywork often feels urgent; however, it never adds value.  To say no to busy work, you have to be willing to say ‘no’ to seemingly urgent tasks. For example, if you’re working on a client project and you get a message that it’s time to update your website software, then it’s easy to get off track. Before you know it, your day is over, and the client project is still waiting for you.

Busy Work

A Symptom of Procrastination

Initially, busy work might have been necessary. For example, to-do lists are a helpful tool. But, if you spend too much time drafting the ultimate to-do list (because you are afraid to start an essential job on that list), you will never complete the items on your list.

You need to remember that it’s the follow-through on those tasks, that makes the difference.

So, if you have this problem,  give yourself a set time limit and then start working on your most urgent job even if your outline or your planning isn’t yet finished.

Busy Work And Stress

Busy work frequently is associated with stress and anxiety. For example, you might be overwhelmed at the thought of learning new software or writing a memo. So you spend most of your time doing less vital tasks instead of focusing on what’s important.

If you find that you’re using busy work to avoid overwhelming projects, try to sit down and pick a deadline for just one task. You might say, “By [your date], I will start writing my new hire manual, and I will give myself X days to do it. Or, if possible, split up your job into segments. For example, if you have to draft an employee manual, you should concentrate on a single chapter and then rinse and repeat until the manual is finished.


Prioritizing by working on your most important tasks, and applying the Pareto Principle is an essential step for you to take in time management.  Granted, depending upon your history and any ingrained poor habits that you may have,  prioritizing can be among the hardest skills to master.  However, once you master prioritization by concentrating on your most important job, you will be on your quickest path to accomplishing your goals.