Main image of article Use the Pareto Principle to Boost Productivity

If you’ve spent any time researching how to make your workday more efficient, chances are good you’ve heard of the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. It goes something like this: 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your effort. The Pareto principle has birthed such tech truisms as:

  • 80 percent of sales come from 20 percent of products
  • 80 percent of errors come from 20 percent of code
  • 80 percent of system crashes come from 20 percent of bugs

So how do you use the Pareto principle to actually maximize effort? Start by sitting down and making a list of your overarching goals. Depending on your position within a company, these could be anything from releasing new software updates on a regular basis, to ensuring that your startup’s revenues are maximized. Identify which tasks contribute the most to those goals. You may have to run some data analytics. While it’s easy for a salesperson to identify which clients generate the bulk of sales, it’s a little more difficult for an app-builder to determine which processes result in issuing faster updates to software (for example). Some experts recommend scoring your core issues, and using those numbers to prioritize your daily workflow. Once you figure out which processes generate the greatest bottom-line results, you can move to the next stage: Eliminating what doesn’t greatly affect your ultimate outcomes. If accomplishing your goals means focusing on coding full-time, talk with your manager about the best ways to eliminate meetings and streamline extraneous activity. While that might sound like a ludicrous suggestion, showing your manager how you arrived at your conclusion may convince them to help you free up space. Everybody likes a productive worker, as opposed to one who’s just busy.