In an age in which one's professional competition is more vast and varied than ever, finding ways to make your work processes more efficient can be vital to one's overall ability to succeed. However, working with techniques such as Pareto Principle can help take one's level of efficiency to the next level. That said, the following is a brief guide on how to be more efficient using the Pareto Principle.

What is the Pareto Principle?

Simply put, the Pareto Principle refers to an ideology that asserts that 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. Named after well-known economist, Vilfredo Pareto, the Pareto Principle encourages people to ignore the "real work" and simply do what they believe will work best for them.

After countless discussions with various people questioning whether working 12-15 hours is truly necessary, some interesting discoveries emerged. In particular, it seems that, for a start-up, there is no way for we can work less than 8 hours/day and still make progress. This is a relatable stance to where our company was just one year ago. Indeed, we once believed that this was the best way to achieve success until we figured out the truth is quite the contrary.

How the Pareto Principle Worked for Us

The very first time the notion of the Pareto Principle was presented, it was in a book about the 20/80 principle. This refreshing concept struck an immediate chord. Instead of telling people to work harder, this principle asserts that people only need to work smarter & more efficiently. The research in the book indicates that every event happens around us is the product of 20% effort and 80% of remarkable results. It was a groundbreaking discovery.

Formerly believing that every hardcore employee must spend their time working longer than 8-hours in order for a company to become successful, the Pareto Principle is a concept that offers a level of freedom to everyone who is tired of feeling overworked and unfulfilled. Using the antiquated method often results in not knowing what to do next. For people who experienced the same issue, their days are spent working tirelessly until midnight, before going home riddled with tiredness and disappointment.

Enter the Pareto Principle

Now, let us redo this scenario using another approach. What if an 8-hour workday just isn't feasible? What if there are only 1.6 hours a day available, what happens then? That's when the Pareto Principle tells us to take it easy; work smarter, not harder.

Our company has been applying this methodology for a while. The most important thing is that we need to figure out and ignore the "real work". We don't believe how many working hours are completed equates to "real work". People often assert they can complete various tasks within 4 hours, 8 hours, even 100 hours, but in the end, their deliverables can't speak for the amount of time and effort they had to commit. For example, if anyone tries to draw something on the sand, no matter how much time and effort it takes to create, it will be easily erased after a while. The same can be said for what would happen if a company spends too much time planning the end result; As 80% of the results will be due to only 20% effort.

Turns out, we don't need to plan details when we are thinking about something or creating a new goal. In fact, all it takes is for one to express their intent and get started working toward the goal. So, why are people and companies spending so much time for planning and preparing, just to draw a big picture on the sand? Surely there is a better way, right? Of course, there is, but we can't be scared to veer away from the norm. Why don't we try doing things differently? Rather than stressing ourselves out over the mind-numbing details beforehand, why not try to just start it and keep at it until we have achieved results?

The Bottom Line

Many of us obsess so much over the details, the risks, etc. that we become afraid to start the project altogether. Additionally, while it may seem like a productive action to take the time to over plan our outcomes, this can actually serve as a distraction as it can make it so we don't have time to think about the results. An esteemed colleague once said that when he was working for his former company, they were granted one day to do what they want that they believed would help improve the company in some capacity. They were able to create any features or optimize them as they saw fit. Those ideas were proven to be some of the best ideas as they responded to a real need and met the demands of the customer the most.

In the end, why do we take too much time to define something while we only need less, just start? Hard work and 12-hour workdays are not necessarily a recipe for success. Rather, success is a result of eliminating unnecessary steps and focusing only on the things that will propel the company forward.

Credit to: Yann (