Why You Should Only Put 20% Effort

Since we were kids, we’ve always been told to work extremely hard and put as much effort as you possibly can. As you grow older and your scope expands (i.e. responsibilities and experience increases), we start realising that giving 100% is a waste of time. We can impress our managers, clients, friends and family by putting 20% effort in the ‘right place’ that has the greatest emotional impact.

By only giving 20% to various endeavours in our lives, we can fit five times the number of activities, interests or hobbies in our day making us more productive and allowing us to explore more of this wonderful world. For the perfectionists out there, it will be tricky initially to finish projects with ‘reasonable solutions’ but 20% correct is sufficient to achieve so-called ‘success’ as long as the receiver/viewer believes you have put in 100%.

This concept was actually theorised by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who observed the phenomenon that 80% of results come from 20% of causes which he called the “Pareto Principle”.

This principle is now ubiquitous with corporations in all industries trying to attain maximum benefit (e.g. 80% increase in profits) from minimal investment of time or money (e.g. 20% increase in raw material costs).

Personally, I would not recommend this mindset for literally every single aspect of your life. If there’s something you are super passionate about and aspire to become a leader in that field (e.g. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, LeBron James, Ed Sheeran) then you have to go much much closer to the 100% mark. At that point, it’s no longer about ‘getting by’ and racing through projects but about amazing the world and most importantly yourself.




Tech Enthusiast | Entrepreneur | Music Artist | MEng @ Cambridge

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Akhil Sonthi

Akhil Sonthi

Tech Enthusiast | Entrepreneur | Music Artist | MEng @ Cambridge

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