The Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule can generally be applied to just about anything to give insights to how things work, but shouldn’t be taken verbatim, but instead used as a guide; it may be 90/10, 99/1, or even 50/50. But generally 80/20 is closer to the truth than you’d believe. Which 20% are you in?

* 80% of good things… come from 20% of the people
* 80% of bad things… come from 20% of the people
* 80% of the problems at work will come from 20% of the people
* 80% of the volunteer opportunities will be run by 20% of the people
* 20% of the people will be doing 80% of the work
* 20% of the people will cause 80% of the headaches
* 80% of awards and recognition will go to 20% of the people
* 80% of the leadership will come from 20%
* 80% of the work around your house is done by 20% of the family
* 80% of your enjoyment will come from 20% of your activities, or
* 20% of what you do will lead to 80% of your fulfillment
* 80% of your philosophy on life will come from 20% of your thoughts or beliefs
* 80% of your success will come from 20% of your activities
* 80% of what you like about a person will come from 20% of who they are/what they do

etc etc…

How to use it to your advantage:

1) Define a context. (i.e., I’m looking for volunteers to help serve food down at the women’s shelter)
2) How many people are available for you to ask?
3) Multiply those in #2 by .2 to get the expected number of probable volunteers.
4) Of those probable volunteers, multiply by .2 to see how many will be doing the most work.

As a quick rule, the Pareto Principle can be used as a handy guide for realistic planning or expectations.