If you want to eliminate stress in your life, we have a tip for you.
Start working smarter — not harder.
Focus your actions, thoughts, and tasks on the things that will make the biggest impact in your life. Put the 80/20 Rule to work.
What’s The 80/20 Rule?
Would you be surprised if we said you’re only getting things done about 20% of the time?
But what might surprise you is that this is true of EVERYONE. It’s so true that in 1896, an Italian economist developed a theory around this idea, and it came to be known as “The 80/20 Rule.”
You may have heard of this rule before – it’s been applied to everything from office management to physical training.
The idea is that 80% of any results come from 20% of the effort put in.
It has been used to say 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers, 80% of your stress comes from 20% of your problems, and so on.
So, how can this knowledge help you eliminate stress?
Related: 8 Unconscious Signs of Stress (& How To Respond to Them)
Start Working Smarter, Not Harder
“Work smarter not harder,” is age-old wisdom. And part of working smart is not wasting time.
Much of your day is probably spent responding to emails and checking social media. These are the non-essential functions of your day and also the easiest tasks to spend time on. The essential parts of your day are sometimes put off as long as possible because they are the hardest – other times we just don’t recognize that they are so essential.
According to the 80/20 Rule, 20% of your work is going to net you 80% of your profits, progress, and recognition. So it’s pretty important to focus on that 20%.
By embracing this 80/20 approach to areas in your life, you can accomplish more — and stress less!
Here are a few places in your life where you can use the 80/20 Rule to eliminate stress in your life.
This is not to say 80% of your obligations should be disregarded completely. If 20% of your employees are stellar, you may think. “I need to focus all of my attention on them to remain successful!” – but they are already successful. Knowing that your top dogs are doing great means you have time to work with the others to strengthen their skills as well.
That dependable 20% needs to be in place first, though. Make your important calls and visits first, before moving on to the less important work. Put your greatest effort and the bulk of your energy into what is actually making you successful, that way if your time is cut short or you run out of energy, you don’t have to stress about skipping anything crucial.
Some of you might hold such important positions that ALL of your work seems like a priority.
But even when everything is important, some things are more important than others.
Focus on your top goals and the important tasks that will help you achieve your main objectives.
The 80/20 Rule is also widely applicable outside of a work environment in your personal life. You probably hang out with 20% of your friends 80% of the time. You probably spend 80% of your money on 20% of your activities. Recognizing these patterns as natural and healthy can reduce some of the stress of trying to do it all and have it all.
The rule can even be applied to relationships. 20% of the problems we have in a romantic relationship are actually due to the relationship itself, while 80% is due to the internal or past demons of one or the other partner. Recognizing this helps you to resolve issues that are actually essential and worry less about the rest.
It can also apply to health and fitness. Physical training is subject to it, and healthy eating can also be simplified by applying the rule to your efforts. The idea with anything is not to exhaust yourself with unproductive work.
Related: Stress Relief for Kids: 4 Fun and Therapeutic Art Activities to Try
Focus on Less. Stress Less.
Working smart is great, but working less is beautiful.
Imagine if you could go home after you accomplished what you needed to for the day – how much more efficiently would you work? Or that you only had to do the essential exercises at the gym to be fit — how much time would you save?
The extraneous 80% will still need to get done, but the looming stress of uncertain success or upcoming difficult work is eliminated.
Making this a regular practice can not only lighten your schedule load, it’s guaranteed to lighten your mental load as well. No more wondering if you missed anything important each day – those parts got done first. And with a lighter load, it’s easier to spend time on the REAL essentials of life like family and personal happiness.
Related: How Does Stress Show Up in the Body? 26 Symptoms of Stress
Eliminate Stress In Your Life
Managing stress is an art that requires a lot of preparation and planning. The 80/20 Rule can help guide you to make decisions that can eliminate stress triggers in your life. But it often takes more action than that to create real, lasting change.
Add the 80/20 Rule to your anti-stress tool belt, and use other methods that can bring more calm into your life.
Add other de-stressors to your life such as massage, yoga, and meditation, and consider talking to a licensed professional who can help you design strategies to keep your stress down and your happiness high. Learn about virtual or in-person therapy and counseling by downloading our free guide — and get a $25 coupon to use on your first session at Loving Life Today.