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Applying the Pareto Principle to Increase Your Productivity

Posted By Nicole Avery 2nd of March 2023 Be Productive 0 Comments

From ProBlogger expert Nicole Avery of Planning With Kids.

The 80/20 principle, or the Pareto principle, is widely known and accepted in business. The principle asserts that a minority of causes or effort lead to a majority of the results,

In business it can be easily seen in many areas:

  • 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of its customers
  • 80% of a company’s sales come from 20% of its products
  • 80% of customer complaints come from 20% of customers

The 80/20 principle is not an exact formula but the principle’s key truth is that the distribution is not even. It as about understanding there is an imbalance for effort and result. The split will not always be exactly 80/20, it might be 90/10, 99/1 for example, however it will not be 50/50.

Understanding how the 80/20 principle applies to blogging can increase your productivity and therefore your success.

Where are you spending your time?

The first step in applying the 80/20 principle is to analyse where you are spending your time in relation to blogging activities. There are many tools out there you can use to help you do this but I use Rescue Time.

RescueTime is an app you install on your computer and it focuses on measuring active computer time. (It has both free and paid versions, but I find the free version perfect for what I need.) It only measures which application is in focus or “on top”. When RescueTime detects that your computer is idle, that is you haven’t made an action after a certain time period, it stops attributing time to that application.


You can then either login to your dashboard to analyse your time use or wait for the weekly email to come through and see how productive you have been. Rescue Time with your help, with classify sites and applications as productive or distracting and generate a weekly productivity score.

Regardless of the tool you use, the most important thing is that you have a reliable data on how you are using your time. Humans are terrible at estimating our time use and how long we do things for as a recent study highlighted:

The typical person who reported having worked 40 hours, for example, actually worked closer to 37. The report found that “The greater the estimate, the greater the overestimate”; people who said they worked 75 hours actually worked closer to 50 hours. (That’s an overestimate of 25 hours, or 50 percent!) At the other end of the spectrum, people who worked relatively few hours (under around 25) actually ended to underestimate their hours. {source}

A tool like Rescue Time takes the guesswork out of it and you are left with the stats to analyse.

As bloggers, we work in an environment full of distractions. We are building audiences on social media platforms like facebook, twitter and instagram who have large paid teams working on solely how to gain and hold our attention. It is easy for a five-minute check of our facebook page to slide out to 35 minutes before we tear ourselves away from the latest viral meme. As hard as the truth maybe, we need to be honest with ourselves in how much time we are spending on these platforms and the value they are returning.

Through your time analysis you will discover where your effort is giving you the greatest return and where perhaps you are wasting your time.

Applying the Pareto Principle to Increase your Productivity | ProBlogger.net

If you are spending your time on the wrong activities, no matter how well you manage your time; you will not achieve the productivity you are after. Tasks that add little value are often referred to as the trivial many and those that contribute real results as the vital few.

Make changes

Armed with your data, it is then time to make changes. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What tasks are returning the biggest results?
  • What tasks should I be spending more time on?
  • Am I spending time on tasks that are working towards my goal?
  • What tasks can I eliminate?
  • What tasks can I automate?
  • What tasks can I batch?

The hard part now comes once you know the answers. To increase your productivity you cannot simply make changes to how you work but you need to make changes to what you are working on.

The trivial tasks you are spending your time on are often easier to do than the vital few tasks. The vital few activities like creating killer content, creating e-books, creating courses are cognitively demanding and they require your brain to work hard. Doing hard work requires concentration through single tasking and it takes practice.

It is a practice that will pay dividends, not only with increased productivity through the quality and quantity of your blogging output, but also through the sense of achievement you feel when you have tackled a hard task and nailed it!

Do you know where you are spending your time?  


 This post was originally published on 11 October 2016 and updated 2 March 2023.

About Nicole Avery
Nicole Avery is a Melbourne mum to five beautiful kids aged seven to 17. She is the master organiser behind the popular parenting blog Planning With Kids and and the creator of the Planned & Present e-course, a step-by-step guide for mums on how to organise the chaos of family life while still leaving space to enjoy it.
  1. I can read more on Pareto FRule. That’s important for all who are working from home.

    Thanks a lot

  2. Hey Nicole,

    The app you have mentioned above seems quite helpful to measure the usage. The computer active time can help the people to analyse their way of promotion.

    You are right, the rule isn’t always 80/20, it can vary. It would depend how a business owner is taking a heading his/her strategies.


  3. Rescue Time definitely does a great job in monitoring and helping us improve
    our productivity. I enjoy using it as well.

    And, the questions put for “Make Changes” are interesting as well, normally I ask myself some of the questions, but not all, so your article gave me a clearer thought on that :)

  4. Simple yet highly-impactful post, Nicole. I once tried to monitor my activities in the office as well, but used a cruder method – actively looking at the clock and logging the time combined with the Pomodoro Technique. That Rescue Time app just made my life easier. Many thanks for that share, Nicole :)

  5. Thanks for this Nicole. I have always found time diaries completely useless as I simply move from one task to the next without writing it all up – pressure to get on with stuff!!!
    Off to install Rescue Time now.

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