Nature is unbalanced. In other words, input (effort) and output (results) are not equally distributed. This means that the majority of our results come from a minority of activities. We know this phenomenon by the name 80/20 rule or the Vital Few and we see it everywhere. For example, 80% of taxes are being paid by 20% of people; 20% of your clothes are worn 80% of the time; 20% of your knowledge is used 80% of the time, etc.
The 80/20 rule is counter intuitive. This the reason that many people are aware of this rule, but few actually use it consistently to simplify their life and improve their condition and results accordingly. Another reason why the 80/20 approach is hardly used in organizations is because of the power of organizational entropy: managers in large organizations often (unconsciously) tend to add complexity, because it poses interesting challenges and solidifies their organizational power base. Behavioral economists have noticed that once an organization has reached a treshold of about 1000 employees, it does not need any outside stimulus anymore to keep itself busy.
The 80/20 is a law of nature and acts similar to other natural laws like gravity: you may find the resulting inequality unfair and resist it, but at the end of the day nature does not care. High Performance individuals therefore know it is much more useful to figure out how to use this law to achieve their goals, then to fight it.
Here are a couple of things you can do immediately to use the 80/20 rule to simplify your life and business and rapidly improve results:
At the beginning of every year, go through your client list and let go of the bottom 20% (suggestion: introduce them to your competition). These are typically clients which cause you the most headaches and give you the least amount of results.
Double your management attention for the top 20% of your clients. They usually give you the bulk of your results and are a pleasure the work with anyway.
Cut your information intake: 80% of the information you receive is noise anyway. Only 20% is relevant for your life and goals. To distinguish between noise and relevant information, keep in mind the following: If information does not trigger you to take action, it will not help you to move towards your goals and it is therefore by definition noise. Do not confuse ‘busyness’ with achievement.
When it comes to High Performance, ‘more’ is no longer the answer to ‘too much.’ Instead, the answer is to focus on the Vital Few.