What is the 80 20 Rule?
In case you're not familiar with it, the 80 20 rule or 80/20 principle is a mathematical formula that was formulated and used by Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) to predict the distribution of wealth within a society.
Specifically, Pareto's law of distribution stated that 80% of a society's wealth was possessed by 20% of the population.
However, Pareto also discovered that his 80 20 rule applied to many other types of measurable circumstances as well -- wherein 20% of the inputs yielded 80% of the outputs.
As it applies to time management, the 80 20 rule basically means that 20% (or less) of your activities are likely responsible for 80% (or more) of the returns on your time.
This means that the key to maximizing the return on your time is to identify the 20% of your time-consuming activities that are responsible for 80% of the returns, and then replace (delegate, outsource, eliminate, etc.) the lower returning activities (the 80%) with the higher returning activities (the 20%).
This explains why I have included the color-coded time blocks with the corresponding hour and percentage totals in the free printable weekly planner creator. Thanks to those features you can name up to six types of activities and then track what percentage of your time you are planning to allocate to each type.
In my own case, one of the 20% activities that is largely responsible for 80% of my financial returns is creating unique and valuable content for this website. Therefore when using the time management tool on this page I use the color of money to represent "Content Creation" and then make sure my weekly calendar pages contain mostly green time blocks.
However, I don't just insert them haphazardly.
Reserve Peak Productivity Time Slots for "20%" Time Blocks
It's not enough to haphazardly add time blocks of 20% activities to your weekly planner. After all, if you add them in weekly day-time slots where you are easily distracted and/or often interrupted, the returns from your 20% activities could sink to the depths of those yielded by the 80% activities.
For me, my most productive day-time slots are Monday - Friday between the hours of 7:00 am (when the kids leave for school) and 12:30 pm (when I get hungry and need a break). Therefore, not only do I fill those hours with 20% activities, but I also do whatever I can to shut myself off from "80%" interruptions (don't check my email, leave phone calls to my answering machine, etc.).
The bottom line is, we all get 168 hours per week. But if you take the time to carefully plan and prioritize how you will spend your 168 hours -- paying close attention to the 80 20 rule -- you may just find yourself among the 20% that possesses 80% of the wealth.