Have you ever felt like you're putting a lot of effort into solving a problem but not getting the desired results?

Flaticon Icon: someone frustrated and tired of thinking

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, can help you identify the top 20% of the causes that are responsible for 80% of the problems. By focusing on these causes, you can resolve problems more efficiently and save time and effort.

A person holding a mug on a desk. The mug has 80/20 written on it. Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Step by Step Guide to Applying the Pareto Principle

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  1. Create a list of all the problems you're experiencing related to a particular situation.

  2. Identify the root causeof each problem.

  3. Give each problem a score according to its impact on your progress.

  4. Group the problems that have common causes together and add up their scores.

  5. Focus on the group with the highest score (impact) and brainstorm solutions.

  6. Take action by implementing the solutions and monitoring the results.


When using the Pareto Principle to solve a problem, you should focus your efforts on the part of the problem that:

An Example of the Pareto Principle in Action

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Salma makes handmade products at home and sells them online.

She realizes she's not getting enough sales through her website. She decides to apply the Pareto Principle to solve her problem.

Flaticon Icon Step 1: Salma created a list of problems related to her situation.

  1. Lack of social media presence

  2. Limited product variety

  3. High product prices

  4. Poor website design

  5. Slow website loading time

  6. Ineffective use of email marketing

  7. Limited payment options

  8. Not enough discounts offered

Flaticon Icon Step 2: She determined the root causes.

Salma realized that her problems are mostly linked to ineffective marketing and pricing strategies, and technical issues related to her website.

Flaticon Icon Step 3: She gave a score out of a total of 100 points to each problem based on how each area impacts her sales.

  1. Lack of social media presence 40/100

  2. Limited product variety 5/100

  3. High product prices 5/100

  4. Poor website design 10/100

  5. Slow website loading time 10/100

  6. Ineffective use of email marketing 20/100

  7. Limited payment options 5/100

  8. Not enough discounts offered 5/100

Flaticon Icon Step 4: She organized the list of problems.

Salma grouped the problems according to their root causes.

She noticed that marketing related issues — lack of social media presence and ineffective use of email marketing — have the biggest impact on her sales.

Flaticon Icon Step 5: She developed a solution and implemented it.

Salma decided to hire a marketing professional to help her improve her social media presence and find new channels to market her products.

Flaticon Icon Result

Salma saved time and energy by hiring a marketing professional, and now she's working on developing new products for her business. Improving her sales also allowed her to have more financial resources to improve her website.

Pros and Cons of Applying the Pareto Principle

An image of a hand holding a cube with 80-20 on it. The rest of the cubes make the word rule. Image from Freepik


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It can help you:

  • identify the root causes of a problem and find better solutions.

  • prioritize your efforts effectively and focus on the solutions that will give you the most significant impact.

  • achieve more with fewer resources, time, and energy.

  • be free to pursue more enjoyable things in life.


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However, it might:

  • give people a false idea that they can achieve 80% of the desired results with only 20% of their "effort".

  • make people neglect the less important aspects of a problem, which can lead to bigger problems over time.

Take Action

A GIF that has shows that 80% of results come from 20% of the effects.

Applying the Pareto Principle to real-world challenges can help you improve your problem-solving skills.


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