Getting sh** done: 80/20 principle

In all honesty, I am proud of my achievements. On paper, I am a “good catch” as my Sri Lankan mother would say. However, I feel like I have only achieved a quarter of my goals.

Until recently, it was something that really frustrated me. I had so many plans (e.g. start an orphanage, become a general practitioner, start a business, start another business, become a rapper, win “so you think you can dance Australia”, make a difference and reach a million people, write a book).
It is endless. Even though I have not really achieved any of the above, I am still proud of myself for dreaming so big, so often. Having said that, “a vision without execution, is hallucination”. That really put me in my place. Because although I had all these admirable plans, plans alone unfortunately don’t mean sh**!


I don’t like being frustrated so I have been searching for a way to improve my ability to set goals. After reading “The 4 hour workweek” by Tim Ferris, I learnt about three ideas that I have been applying ruthlessly to my life.

  1. The 80/20 Principle which will be discussed in this post.
  2. The million dollar question: Are you INVENTING things to do? (keep an eye out)
  3. Parkinson’s Law (keep an eye out)

I have heard about this principle for a few years but, only started applying it after reading the “4 hour work week”. The 80/20 principle states that 20% of the input, leads to 80% of the output. The word on the street is that this principle, or a variation of it, applies to “everything”. This is not to be taken literally. It really doesn’t matter if you think that sometimes it is more than 20% or sometimes less than 80% or you don’t consider this principle to be true at all. My friend, you are missing the point. For example, 80% of your  unhappiness comes from 20% of your life or on the flip side, 80% of your happiness may come from 20% of your life. A random one which has no value but is interesting is that apparently 20% of the carpet you walk on is used 80% of the time (you may be able to save some mula next time you buy a carpet). The beauty of this principle is that it really helps you focus your efforts in the most high yield way. I am all about high yield. I would have high yield for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could!

Throughout these posts, I will try my best to show you how I am applying the things I talk about. I will tell you the theory and show you the application (whether it means I get good or bad results: don’t worry I will keep it real, if I didn’t work for ME, you will know about it).

Below is an example of how I have applied the 80/20 principle to get the most out of my time with regards to my business. For more about my business, visit ummm…hmmm…alright you got me…I am still working on my website. #bepatient #greatnesstakestime.

I have spent the last 8 years learning about medicine so um…let’s just say knowing how to approach chest pain in the emergency department doesn’t necessarily help me run a business. I needed to get some control over everything so I have used the 80/20 principle to help stop me from going bat-sh** crazy! I started by identifying a goal that I can achieve in the next few months (i.e. aim to make revenue as soon as possible). From this I reverse engineered and broke down the necessary smaller goals that will help me achieve my big goal. And then to each of these smaller goals, I have tried to ruthlessly apply the 80/20 principle.

One thing that is important early on is a competitor analysis (apparently this is a thing). I am starting a business to help people lose weight AND keep it off. As you can imagine, there are literally 1000s of businesses that aim to do this. So I considered what the point of my competitor analysis was i.e determine how I should price my service as well as learn about the common approaches to weight loss so I can do it better. Applying the 80/20 principle, I wanted to cut my list from 1000s to only a handful, whilst maintaining the same or similar benefit. This way I can get to the end point without wasting my life sifting through everyone else’s business’. How did I get the handful? I just asked my friends which business’ come to mind if they were thinking about weight loss programmes. I got a list from them within 1 hour. There’s my handful of businesses that I need to research. The beauty of this is that it automatically allows me to develop a list of competitors who are dominating the market and have marketed so well that people equate weight loss with their programmes. Even though other business’ may have legitimate programmes, it doesn’t matter because most people won’t go with them! I have managed to complete a competitor analysis within a few days instead of a few weeks. Once again, at most 20% of the competitors likely dominate at least 80% of the market and those are the ones I would like to learn from!

My life has changed for the better after starting to apply the 80/20 principle. It is almost like a game to me i.e. figure out the laziest way to achieve the best results. As Bill Gates says, he would always “hire a lazy person to do a difficult job…because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it”. I have even applied the 80/20 principle to this very blog post by thinking about what 20% input will give the readers at least 80% of the value of the post. In fact, as a tribute to the 80/20 principle and my calculated laziness, I have only proof read this post a few times. There may be a few mistakes in there but, I don’t see a few spelling mystakes afecting the content to much. See what I did there.

Good luck and feel free to share some of your insights into the 80/20 principle, how you have applied it or why it has not worked for you. It is relatively new to me so I am all ears. Let me know if you want some more examples of how I apply this beautiful principle. I only provided one example because well…you know #20%lifestyle.

BKTY (be kind to yourself) and BKTO (be kind to others)