Applying the 80/20 Rule – Do More Faster

Most people have heard of the 80/20 rule in regards to business, finances, and productivity, but did you know this is really a universal rule that can be applied to just about anything?  The Pareto Principle states that “80% of all effects come from 20% of all causes.”  More generally, 20% of everything you do is responsible for 80% of your successes.

While the 80/20 rule is highly effective in business and financial situations, it’s also highly effective when applied to your goals, your nutrition and fitness.   Applying this single rule to these three areas will enable you to be more productive, achieve more in less time, and get quicker results.  Here are the keys to using the 80/20 rule in each of these areas of your life…

 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule and Your Goals

In my book Push, I tell readers to make a list of 10 goals and identify one (or two) that will create the most momentum in helping all the others happen.  Ding, ding, ding! This is the 80/20 rule at work!  Accomplishing this goal – their Push Goal – will enable them to accomplish many of the other goals on their list.  Some tips for applying the 80/20 rule to your goals:


  • When it comes to your goals and even your daily To-Do List, identify the 20% that counts and focus there first. 
  • More-efficient actions should take the highest priority when planning your day.
  • This doesn’t mean ignore the other 80%, but it does mean you need to focus on your 20% first.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this the most important thing I could be doing right now?”
  • Remember, you can’t do EVERYTHING. So, just get really good at doing the important stuff first.


Applying the 80/20 Rule to Nutrition and Fitness

The 80/20 rule works a little differently when applied to nutrition and fitness – the rule is actually reversed.  80% of your physical results will come from your nutrition, and 20% of your results will come from exercise.  This concept can be difficult for many people; it takes discipline.  However, that doesn’t mean you have to torture yourself trying to be perfect 100% of the time.  Here’s what you should shoot for:


  • Aim to eat clean 80% of the time.  Give yourself a little wiggle room, but no more than 20% of the time should you eat outside of your target zone.
  • Instead of stuffing yourself to the point of no return, stop eating when you’re 80% full.
  • If you have to choose between nutrition and fitness, nutrition takes higher priority.
  • Just because 80% of your results will come from nutrition doesn’t mean you can ignore the 20% that comes from exercise. Get your workouts in!
  • Regular exercise makes sticking to a healthy diet much easier.
  • Plan to exercise 9 out of 10 days.


While applying the 80/20 rule to your goals versus your nutrition and fitness varies, this universal principle will bring the same result: success.  Isn’t it a relief to know you don’t have to be perfect?  Use the 80/20 rule as your guide, give your best, and anything is possible!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “Applying the 80/20 Rule – Do More Faster

  1. Whoopsie!!!! I got that one backward for sure. Sheesh!! I always would tell myself, “well I had __________-which is bad for me for breakfast, but i am going to do some TurboKick after work–so i will just be working it off” <–wrong concept!!!!
    Thanks Chalene!!! Gotta getta grip on my eating habits. I was listening to something you were saying about fixing the same thing everyday, less thought about what I will be having, but i struggle with the repetition. It would save time and money….guess i just need a new way of thinking–PUSH passed that struggle, heh?
    Thanks again,

  2. Wow I really need to start eating right. This is really difficult for me but I have to start. I need to buy the PUSH book.

  3. So excited as I just started getting the newsletter and I start with the 30 days to a better and more organized life!!!!! I knew that nutrition was a huge part of getting in shape. Just need to work on getting cardio/excercise in…… slowly but surely it will happen!!