How to Use The 80/20 Rule For Goal Setting

The 80/20 rule is one of the most helpful concepts for life and time management.

According to this principle: 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. It can change the way you set goals forever.

What is the 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 rule is also called the “Pareto Principle” named after it’s founder, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto from 1895. He noticed that people in society seemed to divide naturally into what he called the “vital few,” or the top 20 percent in terms of money and influence, and the “trivial many,” or the bottom 80 percent.

Later, he discovered that virtually all economic activity was subject to this principle, in that 80 percent of the wealth of Italy during that time was controlled by 20 percent of the population.

We can take Pareto’s 80/20 rule and apply it to almost any situation. In particular, we can apply it to goal setting and productivity. 

Download my 14-Step Goal-Setting Guide to put the 80/20 Rule into action!

80/20 Rule in Action

If you have a list of ten items to accomplish, two of those items will turn out to be worth more than the other eight items put together.

The sad fact is that most people procrastinate on the top 10 or 20 percent of items that are the most valuable and important, the “vital few,” and busy themselves instead with the least important 80 percent, the “trivial many,” that contribute very little to their success.

How to Apply the 80/20 Rule

Here’s what you should do in order to effectively apply the 80/20 rule to goal setting and to your overall productivity.

First, take a piece of paper and write down ten goals. Then ask yourself: If you could only accomplish one of the goals on that list today, which one goal would have the greatest positive impact on your life?

Then pick the second most important goal. What you’ll find is, after you complete this exercise, you will have determined the most important 20 percent of your goals that will help you more than anything else.

You should continue to work at those goals that you’ve chosen as the most valuable all the time.

Eat The Biggest Frog First

You often see people who appear to be busy all day long but seem to accomplish very little. This is almost always because they are busy working on tasks that are of low value while they are procrastinating on the one or two activities that could make a real difference to their companies and to their careers.

The most valuable tasks you can do each day are often the hardest and most complex, but the payoff and rewards for completing them can be tremendous.

Before you begin work, always ask yourself, “Is this task in the top 20 percent of my activities or in the bottom 80 percent?”

The rule for this is: resist the temptation to clear up small things first.

If you choose to start your day working on low-value tasks, you will soon develop the habit of always starting and working on low-value tasks.

Work Towards Your Main Goal, All the Time

Finally, I want to tell you about a study that has just been done about the attitudes of rich people versus poor people in regard to goal setting. What they found is that 85% of rich people have one big goal that they work on all the time.

So, if you want to be wealthy, do what wealthy people do. Pick one big goal and work on it all the time, and if you do, it will change your life.

Before we wrap up, I’d like to leave you with a thought to share with your friends and followers:

“When your goals are clear, you will come up with exactly the right answer at exactly the right time” @BrianTracy Click here to Tweet This tweet-graphic-trans

Those are my strategies for applying the 80/20 Rule to goal setting.

My question today is: “Do you use the 80/20 Rule for goal setting, and if you do, what changes have you noticed in your life?

Leave a comment below, and I’ll be sure to follow up with you.

To learn more about goal setting and time management, download my free 14-Step Goal-Setting Guide here.




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Motivational Quotes About the 80/20 Rule to Share


80 20 rule brian tracy quote

brian tracy task priority and time management quote


About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

  • Motivational Razor

    My biggest goal is to make at least £2,000 a month independent of a “slave” contract/working for other people. In order to achieve this in 2017 I am setting up my blog, which should inspire and motivate others to invest instead of spending and also give out my key learnings from my experience in e-commerce. I use the 80/20 rule in order to evaluate opportunity cost, hence working on stuff which brings me the most value and outsource things there are cheaper to pay for than then time I would spend on them. My current problem is to fine the time to write quality post it is here I from now on will focus on the 80/20 rule more.

  • Sakthi Vasu

    Till, I haven’t applied it!
    I’m going to use it

  • Rick Siddiqui

    I intend to follow my goals as I concurrently read one chapter a day of Maximum Achievement. This book is my most marked up book with all my notes. “In case of emergency, leave home with it”.

  • Hussein Reza

    I think the most powerful and the only thing anybody needs to put into any possible field and get triumph is this principle and that 20 percent is most likely to put affort is two things first get desired and developing that desire and secondly get focused, I think

  • Preston Vander Ven

    This rule apply’s to so much. The way I like to see it if something in your life is important than it is in the 20%, and if it is urgent or neither it is in the 80%. The important matters outweigh the urgent matters, including the fruit that they bear.

  • Rui Trindade

    I havent used yet, however I strongly believe it.

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