The 80/20 Principle: How to Have Better Results in Less Time


Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who found a pattern that soon became a phenomenon known as The Pareto Principle or The 80/20 Principle. The basic idea is that 20% of our efforts create 80% of our results. 

It might seem to good to be true. But if you think about it, you might come up with a lot of examples that you experience in your own life! 

Examples of the 80/20 Principle:

I can tell you that 80% of my website traffic comes from Pinterest. And I don’t even spend much time there! So what should I do? I should invest more of my time on Pinterest, instead of using it on Twitter. 

You probably wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. I can’t count the number of t-shirts I’ve got, but I keep using the same! I’m constantly giving clothes I don’t wear to charity because of it. 

20% of my relationships bring 80% of my happiness. There are a lot of people that I consider my friends, but, my overall happiness comes from spending time with only a few of them. This is not to be rude or ungrateful, but certainly, there are people who I enjoy to be with, much more! And if you take a close look at your own life you will see very similar patterns. 

In most books, you can extract 80% of the content in 20% of the time! There’s no need to read a book from cover to back, unless you’re really enjoying it. You can learn the main principles in a few hours which will accelerate your learning process. 

80/20 principle

Most businesses say that 20% of their consumers produce 80% of their profit. What should they do? Create better relationships with those customers and increase their revenue while spending less time!

The key is to be aware of the activities we execute in our life, in order to find the 20% that produces the 80%. Unless we do it, we’re wasting a lot of time and energy doing stuff that doesn’t bring valuable results and we don’t really enjoy that much! By applying this principle it is possible to achieve more in less time!

You can apply the 80/20 principle to anything! Business, relationships, mastering a skill, skill acquisition, etc. 

The 80/20 Principle on Learning a Language

80/20 principle

Tim Ferriss also applies the 80/20 principle to everything he does, such as language acquisition and business. 

He translates 12 English sentences to the language he wants to learn, in order to master the basics first. By doing this, he is able to keep a pretty decent conversation, even though he only learned a few concepts. 

Tim also focuses his attention on auxiliary verbs which he believes are the key to learning a new language fast. You only need to memorize the conjugations of a few verbs like - to have, to want, to need, and you can already impress a few people with your language skills

By applying the 80/20 principle on Language learning, you get much faster results than if you tried to memorize thousands of words, verbs and different conjugations. 

According to his research, 100 well selected words make 50% of the practical use of all the words in the Oxford English Dictionary. Impressive ;) 

Read Tim Ferriss' guide on How to Learn (But Not Master) Any Language!

The 80/20 Principle on Learning Guitar

80/20 principle

Spend 80% of your time learning the most used 3 chords, such as G, C, and D. If you actually know how to play those chords, you will be able to a decent variety of songs. 

Of course, you won’t become a guitar master in a few weeks. But at least you will be able to have fun while playing some of your favorite songs. 

Also, in order to learn a new skill, it’s very important to see some progress in the first few days. This will motivate you to keep going! 

Check Tim's post on learning guitar! 

The most important factor is to be creative with the 80/20 principle because it can be applied to any field! And it’s one of the best techniques to increase your overall performance while saving a lot of time! Try it out!