How to Use the 80-20 Rule to Improve Yourself – Audiobook Spotlight – Nick Trenton’s 80-20 Your Life

It’s too easy to get caught in the tiny details that we think matter. This is like getting caught in the trees and not being able to see the forest. When you can apply the 80/20 Rule to your life, your personal effectiveness will skyrocket in every aspect.

Improve your Time Management with a Time Revolution, Increase your fitness, and get organized.

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More of the results you want with less action and effort.

This book will teach you how to analyze every single aspect of your life to determine what actions and mindsets you need for the success you want, and how to ruthlessly discard the rest.

You will gain a blueprint for how to optimize every part of your waking life, from health, to social life, to finances, to business and career.

Learn how less can certainly be more.

Richard Koch has drawn a very insightful dichotomy between time management and a time revolution
Applying the 80/20 principle to your time does not mean that you simply need to use your time better, take less breaks, or spend more time planning the rest of it
All of that falls under time management
Instead, the application of this rule entails a complete time revolution, which is a fundamental shift in the way you think about time itself
Time management comes with the constant pressure of using your time effectively
But this doesn’t improve the way you use your time, it only brings frustration, longer working hours, and an addiction to finding better and better ways to manage time
The Pareto principle does away with these marginal improvements in the usage of our time
It refuses to accept that we can come up with a routine wherein 100% of our time can be used productively
Far from frantically doing the most in the least amount of time, this rule assumes that we have more than enough time to achieve all our important goals
This is because the principle operates with the assumption that time is cyclical, and not linear
It doesn’t just come and go, forever lost to history; it comes repeatedly, bringing with it new opportunities to learn and improve
To begin your time revolution, you’ll need to change the way you approach your time, and there are a few things you can do to achieve this
Perhaps the most important step here is to dissociate the mental connection between effort and reward
It is also important to let go of the guilt that comes with time spent unproductively
The 20% of people who own 80% of wealth are also 20% of the workers/businessmen who enjoy their work 80% of the time
A third way you can change your approach toward time is by taking ownership of it
If 20% of your time gives you 80% of your results, the remaining 80% of your time is likely being spent on tasks that were undertaken for others
Obviously, it isn’t possible to rid yourself of obligations and completely avoid doing things for others, especially as an employee
However, the takeaway here is that you should spend your time in ways that you and you alone deem appropriate
Rather than merely finding creative ways to squeeze in as many non-essential activities as possible, ask yourself how you can shape your work so that you have more power to eliminate or delegate those non-essential tasks entirely
Once you’ve given yourself some time to think these steps over and incorporate them into your mindset about time, you’ll be ready for the next phase of your time revolution
This phase has everything to do with the 20% of your time that gives you 80% of your results
Start by identifying which 20% of your time is being spent most productively
Give yourself a few days to a week for observing this, and make sure to note down the times when you’re most and least productive
There are many tasks that are generally of high value and which are likelier than others to produce many times the output of the time you spend doing them
While assessing the ways you spend your time, you might well find a large degree of overlap between these general high-value tasks and the ones where you’re at your most efficient
These include tasks that further your assumed purpose in life, things you’ve always wanted to do, things that you already know will give you more results than the effort you put into them, and tasks where you’re given free rein to apply your creativity
On the other hand, tasks that are a huge time-sink are those which you aren’t very good at or don’t enjoy doing
They could also be ones where your collaborators are inefficient, or tasks that can only be done a certain way and have no space for creativity
This is not to say that you should never bother with tasks that you aren’t already an expert in, or that you shouldn’t spend some effort trying to improve a situation before abandoning it because it’s not 100% as you’d like it
Rather, it’s about realizing that you’re in charge
Sometimes the best way to optimize something is to not do it at all! As the common 80/20 wisdom goes, you’ll need to double the time you spend on your high-value tasks while reducing time spent on the low-value ones
While this won’t give you 160% of output, it will still increase your overall productivity exponentially
Try and delegate most of your low-value work, and work during times of the day you’re most productive at
So if you’re someone who likes sleeping in, waking up early to increase your productivity will likely not work
One thing to keep in mind here is that, even with an awareness of the Pareto principle, it can be difficult to escape the tyranny of the 80/20 distribution wherein 80% of your time is spent on low-value tasks
The best way to ensure a good chance of breaking through this barrier is to spend your time in the most unconventional and eccentric manner as you can
Don’t waste your time doing the decent things that are expected of you and weigh you down
Instead, think of all the ways you could do things differently than you do now, without making such a shift disorienting and impossibly difficult
Here is an example of how this works
Let’s say you’re a consultant who has managed to earn millions of dollars from your job and you’ve now started your own venture
You’d be forgiven for thinking that your every waking moment will now in some way be spent on tasks related to this enterprise
Yet, you could quite as easily let your other employees work seventy to eighty hours a week and take a more laidback approach
Obviously, this would make you a terrible boss and human being, but it does drive home the point that a lot of our assumptions about work, business and success are just that—assumptions
Truly thinking out of the box means questioning the old scripts, for example that a successful person is necessarily one who works themselves to death, or that if you achieve one level of efficiency and success you are compelled to immediately seek out the next level, forever
The key to this approach is not to constantly be doing something all the time, but learning to delegate work between your top employees, who will likely themselves delegate it further
Remember, the 80/20 principle is one that requires a non-linear mindset—you are not necessarily being lazy by turning certain tasks down and refusing to constantly plow forward, any more than you are being effective by taking them on
Attend only the most important meetings, set objectives that need to be met, provide ways for those objectives to be achieved, and let the others do the work
You may discover plenty of people who are still laboring under the misconception that endless “busywork” will lead to success
Try not to get sucked into the pointless bureaucracy that comes with this approach
The most important thing you need to do is decide which tasks to delegate in the first place
If you’ve been reading this book attentively so far, you’ll have an easy time selecting the most important ones using assessments of your business through the 80/20 principle
But how you spend the rest of your time is up to you
You could play golf, read novels, travel the world and do what your heart desires
The main barrier to overcome here is not the sheer amount of work itself, but the need to be constantly doing work to feel accomplished
This last tip is in line with the previous one, and it is to remember to not be afraid of taking time off
If you feel burned out, overwhelmed, or excessively stressed, realize that 80% of your time is spent on expendable tasks anyway
Skipping some of them will do you absolutely no harm
80/20 Personal Finance Personal finance is easily one of the biggest worries in any adult s life
Be it keeping your expenditures under control, tracking and managing your investments, maintaining a budget, ensuring you save enough, or something else, a lot of money is at stake
This makes any decision related to finance an anxiety-driven one
However, if you can learn to utilize the 80/20 rule while making key decisions, a lot of this anxiety can be alleviated
Youll be surer of your outcomes, more confident in your management of your finances, and most likely much richer as a result
There are three main areas of personal finance where the 80/20 rule can provide you with rich dividends, quite literally
These are your investments, expenditures, and savings
Well explore these in the same order
Its no secret that investments, and not high employment income, is the key to becoming wealthy
The earlier you start investing, the longer your few good investments can provide you with good returns
As with the other areas of your life, 20% of your investments are going to generate 80% of your profits
What we need to do is find the most productive 20% investments you can possibly make, and determine how to go about doing this
The very first thing youll want to do when it comes to investments is to take charge of them and make them yourself
When you take the help of advisers and money managers, you minimize the chances of reaping the superior rewards that come with discovering and investing in the few high-performing assets that generate most of your profits
Instead, such managers tend to take a much safer approach while absorbing a lot of your profits in the process
They minimize risk by investing in a broad spectrum of media such as stocks, bonds, real estate, etc
However, the first tenet of enjoying superior returns through the Pareto principle is building an unbalanced portfolio
Unbalanced portfolios lead to the second step of our process, which is to restrict your investments to only one medium: the stock market
This is primarily because investing in the stock market requires the least expertise
Most of the other options will require you to spend substantial amounts of time studying them and then making informed decisions
However, you can invest exclusively in blue-chip stocks that are safe, well-established, and have a reliable history of performance and still reap extreme rewards
The key to getting the most out of these blue-chip stocks is to invest in them for the long-term
Theres no need to move your stocks in and out of your portfolio unnecessarily unless theyre guaranteed to lose you money
Invest in stocks with at least the next decade or two in mind
Investing for the short-term takes you into territory where youre making unreliable gambles
This could well lead to the opposite outcome than youre looking for, and so it makes sense for you to refrain from risks you dont need to take
Another tip for investing that heavily relies on the Pareto principle is value investing
Value investing is the practice wherein you purchase stocks when the market as a whole or particular stocks are valued much lower than theyre worth
So, if the market is low and most people are hesitant to invest, thats when you should be investing the big bucks into the market
Conversely, when everyone is keen on investing, thats when you should be wary and hold back your funds
Strategies like these are why 80/20 thinking is unconventionalit advises you to go against the tide
Because of the cyclical nature of the stock market, value investing, when done right, will inevitably lead to big rewards
All the tips weve suggested so far converge into our next suggestion: invest in stocks that are connected to fields you are a relative expert in
These could be shares relating to the industry you work in, where your hobbies lie, or any particular interest of yours
So, if you like cars, you might want to invest in automobile companies that are trading publicly
Even if you dont feel like an expert in any particular area, it pays to stick to one area and familiarize yourself with that industry rather than diversifying your options
A list of techniques revolving around using the 80/20 principle effectively would be remiss if it didn t recommend the elimination of underperforming assets, and this applies to investments as well
If the value of any share falls by more than 15% of the price you paid for it, sell that stock immediately
If you wish to buy it later, wait a week to ensure that the price has stopped falling
Many fortunes have been lost to a mistaken sense of loyalty toward particular underperforming stocks
Make sure you avoid that error
After investing, the most important area where you need to apply the Pareto principle is in relation to your spending habits, savings, and budgeting
Regarding these, there are two 80/20 rules which will come in very handy for you
First, 80% of your wealth will come from 20% of your efforts with money
Remember, low effort and high value, so in fact only a limited amount of actions will generate your wealth
Second, living within or below your means on 80% of your total income and saving the remaining 20% will be the key to building your wealth substantially
Well start with the second rule first
The idea here is to take everything you spend your money on in a typical monthfood, rent, charity, insurance, petrol, personal expenses, etc
and restrict the overall expenditure to 80% of what your household makes every month
The remaining 20% of your income should be dedicated toward either savings or generating passive income
This can mean you invest a little every month into your retirement fund, put it into the stock market, pay off debts, etc
Of these, if you have debts, its absolutely essential for you to meet the minimum payment for every single debt you owe
It is advisable to go about 10-20% above your minimum payment because the longer you owe money the more you lose
If you follow this pattern for a year, youll end up making one whole extra payment for that year
This can reduce debts like mortgages by several years
Paying a twenty-five-year mortgage using this rule will resolve your debt three years earlier than expected
While its important to know what you should be doing to increase your wealth, there are a few very common things people do to cut spending which you shouldnt be doing
The first of these is cutting discretionary spending
This could apply in a variety of ways for you
Maybe you reduce how much you eat out, or skip that movie youve been wanting to watch at the theaters
You might also cut down on some of your media subscriptions
While all of these tactics will save you money, they are unlikely to make any significant difference to your overall financial situation
However, what they will do is prevent you from enjoying the things you like doing
Although its possible for you to find cheaper ways to do the same things, its likely that this strategy will only leave you frustrated
The second option that many opt for is working overtime
Again, many people do this because it does help in some ways
If you can find the overtime hours to work consistently, it might help you in improving your financial situation somewhat
However, overtime isnt a good long-term strategy toward growing your wealth or managing your finances
It also goes against all the principles of sound 80/20 thinking
If youre in need of urgent money due to some debts, this might be a feasible option in the short-term
But as a general rule, working extra is another strategy that requires too much effort and provides too little return to be worth it for any extended period of time
As you may have noticed, underlying everything weve discussed so far is the 80/20 way of thinking
Be unconventional in your approach toward finances, particularly when it comes to investing
Be reasonably hedonistic in terms of spending and dont cut out expenses for things you enjoy and look forward to
Dont be linear and do the things everyone else is doing, like developing diversified portfolios or working overtime
Lastly, manage your budget and spending habits in ways that are reflective and suited to you
80/20 Health and Fitness When it comes to eating healthy, social media is always abuzz with the latest fads that supposedly guarantee results
From intermittent fasting to Paleo, Keto, going vegan, Atkins, etc
, there are a ton of options out there, and none of them keep the 80/20 principle in mind
They demand wholesale changes in your diet and lifestyle, which you might manage in the short term for positive results but are you willing to be vegan for the rest of your life? It might be a struggle for some
Healthy eating programs are plagued with an emphasis on short-term results and expending excessive resources in that pursuit, while completely ignoring the long-term
The very phrase being on a diet means that at some point youre going to be off it, which discourages actual, meaningful change in your habits
This is where the 80/20 rule becomes so important
It gives you a framework to follow that can actually be sustained for the rest of your life through minimal effort
Remember, we are trying to do less here
The golden rule youll want to remember here is that 80% of the calories you consume in a day should come from healthy sources, while the remaining 20% can be expended on foods you enjoy
The key here is to fit the 80% with foods you enjoy as well to minimize the amount of change you need to make to your existing eating habits
As always, its important to remember that the numbers dont need to be 80 and 20
In this case, it is much more likely that the ratio will be even more lopsided and inexact
However, this depends primarily on whether your goal is to lose weight or maintain the level you have right now
With the former, youll want to minimize indulgence, but with the latter you can leave 20% for foods you like eating
Lets assume you consume an average of around 2000-2200 calories a day
This leaves you with about 400-500 calories to indulge yourself with
However, that number is lower than it seems
Youll likely exhaust it with a bottle of Coke, an energy bar, or a few peanut-butter sandwiches
As such, it helps to be a little calorie conscious when it comes to what you re eating
Once you familiarize yourself with the basic calorie values of foods you generally eat, this becomes an almost intuitive process that doesn t require any calculation or effort
While calorie counting isnt essential and you can still get by without it, its definitely advisable
One common way that people use the 80/20 diet is on a weekly basis, and not daily
This means that throughout the first five days of the week you stick to the 80% healthy foods youre eating, and only allow indulgences on the weekends
That amounts to approximately four meals in a week where you can eat without worrying too much about calories
However, even here, some moderation is key
Dont let yourself slack off too much while indulging your cravings, and try to still get in some nutrients otherwise youll feel terrible and risk losing the health gains you ve achieved
Furthermore, pay attention to your portions, regardless of whether youre eating healthy or indulging
Overeating is a huge cause of weight gain, and one youll want to avoid especially if youre white knuckling through the week
Its imperative that you fill your 80% with foods you like, otherwise youre going to torture yourself for five days a week and end up gaining weight on the weekends
Try including as many fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains as possible
Also, try to cut down on alcohol
Those are simply empty calories that will quickly drive your weight up
If you find yourself struggling to lose weight with an 80/20 plan, you might want to consider switching to a 90/10 routine
This will reduce your indulgent meals from four a week to just two
This might not be necessary if youre simply looking to maintain your current weight, but more healthy eating is always beneficial if you can manage it
Lastly, if you can, add some exercise to the mix
This will aid your weight loss efforts significantly, not just because of the burned calories, but due to improved metabolism from increased muscle mass
The 80/20 rule applies here as well, as 20% of exercises lead to 80% of your results
As such, you wont need to spend too much time exercising if youre doing it well, but its another habit that will go a long way in getting the results you desire
80/20 Organization Most of the time, we find ourselves in a situation where we have a multiplicity of tasks we need to complete
However, because we only have so much time, we only end up doing a few of those
The tasks we dont finish get put off for the future, and they stay at the back of our minds as we scramble to find the time to do it all
Yet most of these tasks that weve been putting off or meaning to do but just havent managed to are part of the unnecessary clutter thats polluting our lives
Most of them are not nearly as important as we might have initially thought, and we can likely do away with them without any adverse consequences
Through the 80/20 principle, you can identify the tasks that matter and are actually important to you while separating the 80% of meaningless clutter that s a constant presence in our lives, but isnt productive or meaningful in any way
Decluttering your life is where the reflective aspect of 80/20 thinking shines through
Spend some time thinking about what it is you really want to do, and the activities or tasks that you consider important
Are you really going to read all those books on your desk? Do you truly need to complete every single task on your list, or can you delegate some and get away with not doing some of the others? What are the biggest things youre spending a large portion of your time on that arent aligned with your goals in life? Be totally honest with yourself, especially since such reflection can often involve tough decisions
If a lot of your clutter has to do with work, ask yourself whether youd really be at your current job under more ideal circumstances
If youre a student studying for a major you arent particularly passionate about, think about whether you want these tasks and others similar to them to stay with you for the foreseeable future
Alternatively, there are also probably things you like doing which use up too much of your time
As we ve stressed, theres no need to completely eliminate things you enjoy
But ask yourself if you could spend a little less time watching television? Maybe you could use some of the time you spend scrolling on your phone more productively
If an activity is central to your leisure time, you can probably get away with keeping it intact
However, there are definitely others that can be eliminated or reduced
This is one of the big advantages of decluttering your life through the Pareto principle: it forces you to make decisions you otherwise would not have considered
This applies to both things you like and those you dislike doing
So how do you actually go about decluttering your life? One effective way is to take a more methodical approach and create an 80/20 audit sheet
List all the activities you do regularly or need to do, and segregate them based on whether they are consistent with your major goals in life or not
Of course, some tasks wont be extremely important, but youll have to do them anyway
Keep those, but be ruthless in your selection
Based on what your audit sheet looks like, you can then start compiling a daily planner that has more tasks related to the 20% most important activities rather than those that simply clutter up your life
Its likely that at least some of the clutter you want to eliminate or reduce from your life involves things you habitually do
For example, its possible youre accustomed to playing video games for a certain number of hours every day
Maybe you like consuming alcohol to relax, which renders you indisposed for the rest of the night
Eliminating clutter like this can be hard because of the role it plays in your routine and the urge that overcomes you when you miss it for a few days
To beat that urge, the thirty-day challenge is a great technique to use
Essentially, what you need to do is write down the habit or task you want to eliminate and note down the date you ve started the challenge
Make a column for date of completion and fill it thirty days after you undertook the challenge, and reflect on your progress
Did you manage to cut the habit? Though this technique might sound overly simplistic, the reason it works is because thirty days is usually enough to break a routine
If you stick to your goal and manage to not do that activity for thirty days, its highly likely you wont feel the urge to do it after the month has passed
Of course, clutter is not just our behaviors or habits, but the physical and material untidiness around us
The 80/20 principle can help here, too
Your external surroundings tend to mirror your inner environment
Have a look at the places in your home or office where you spend the most time, and then, consider all the objects you interact with most
Look at objects and ask whether they add anything to your life, or are merely taking up space
Even worse, could some clutter be actively getting in the way of whats important? Imagine that you spend 80% of your time using or enjoying just 20% of all your worldly possessions, or that just 20% of your things are supplying 80% of your happiness or convenience
Can you identify that 20% and let go of some of the things that contribute nothing? The last important item to remember is to replace this clutter in your life with not just things that make you happy, but that also help you further your most important goals

Nick Trenton grew up in rural Illinois and is quite literally a farm boy. His best friend growing up was his trusty companion Leonard the dachshund. RIP Leonard. Eventually, he made it off the farm and obtained a BS in Economics, followed by an MA in Behavioral Psychology.

Defeat overwhelm and frustration, and find the rewarding lifestyle you always wanted.

•A process for filtering through your life priorities.
•A three-step guide to apply the 80-20 Rule anywhere.
•Why the 80/20 Rule underlies happiness in life.
•What to do with the remaining 20 that doesn’t matter.
•How to completely shift your mindset to be more efficient.

Escape drudgery and spend more time doing the things you love instead. It’s time to 80/20 your life.

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Categories: Voice over Work