Outsource Your 80 Percent


“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain

You can use the 80/20 Rule to improve your life.

The 80/20 rule simply means that you focus on the 20 percent of the activities that produce 80 percent of the value.

This means letting go of the activities that bog you down, in favor of the activities that lift you up.

Focus on the 20 Percent That You Do Best

To do this well means first knowing what you do well and then being able to let the rest go.  Once you’re willing to let things go, you open up a lot of options.

In The 80/20 Individual: How to Build on the 20% of What You do Best, Richard Koch writes about outsourcing your 80 percent to focus on the 20 percent that you do best.

Spend Your Best Energy on Better Things

The key here is to be mindful of your trade-offs.  For everything that you take on, you’re letting something else go.

This is really about doing more of what you’re great at and less of what you’re not great at, unless there’s a longer-term benefit, such as your own growth.

When you spend more time doing what you’re good at, you have more energy for other things.  It’s about optimizing the vital few versus spreading yourself thin and doing things that make you weak or waste your time.

Put Your Energy into the Vital Few 20 Percent

Companies outsource what they don’t do well, to focus on activities that they do do well.

Via The 80/20 Individual: How to Build on the 20% of What You do Best:

“One of the most important recent trends in business is outsourcing.  Companies that outsource more get other companies to take on activities that they do poorly or that give a much lower return on capital.  ‘

Ideally, firms outsource the “trivial many” 80 percent of tasks and put all their energy into their “vital few” 20 percent of undertakings.”

Model from Corporate Outsourcing

People do this all the time.  You can model from them.

Via The 80/20 Individual: How to Build on the 20% of What You do Best:

“People can do precisely the same thing, using the same concept as corporate outsourcing .  Find the 20 percent (or less) that you are outstandingly good at, then ask other people to perform the rest. 

On one level – time – the rich and famous have always done this. 

You don’t catch Madonna standing in line at the supermarket or passport office.  Heads of state tend to spend less time fuming in traffic jam than the rest of us.  Celebrities pack several lives into one; they live more intensely, devoid of the banalities that bog us down.”

If You’re Not Good at It, Don’t Do It

Outsource or give up what you’re not good at.

Via The 80/20 Individual: How to Build on the 20% of What You do Best:

We can all export large chunks of ourselves.  If you’re not good at something, don’t do it.  Find someone else to do it, or forget about it altogether. 

Why work hard to become mediocre at something?  There are better uses of your time, your energy, your essential self.

Key Take Aways

Here are my key take aways:

  • Focus on the vital few. Focus on the vital few activities that set you apart. Give your best where you have your best to give.
  • Outsource what you’re not good at. If you’re not good at it, find somebody who is, or let it go. Lighten your load and focus on what gives you maximum results. if you can’t entirely drop it, find a mentor or pair up or team up. You probably know people you can trade skills with. Also, one person’s delegation is another person’s opportunity and one person’s weakness is another person’s strength.
  • Model from others. Find people who are effective at delegating or outsourcing and model from them. Some people are very good at outsourcing their services from lawn care to taxes.

Get more out of the time you already spend, by spending your time on better things.

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Photo by WisDoc.


  1. 80/20 is such an important concept. Thanks for discussing it on here. I really agree with the idea of putting your vital energy into the few 20 percent. With so much going on in life, it’s helpful to have a reminder that we don’t have to spread ourselves too thin. Thanks!

  2. Hey Guy this is right on except I have encountered a few problems…
    I outsourced all my IT work because I just can’t do it…but all my getting advertisers involves IT work which my Geek has no time to do ( My oldest daughter) and I don’t know how to accomplish…I am so slow at learning this stuff – and with Dyscalcula some of it I am incapable of learning…(I did prove them wrong about driving a car)

    I let go of cleaning my house….no money or any time for trading/bartering this activity.

    I have used up all my seed money on medical bills and I am working for joy only…
    My architect husband is not getting and work into his office the Seattle folks got all the awards…and he is having to let people go and is working 24/7 to keep the mortgage payments and put gas in the car…he is busy planting the garden as a back up measure in the middle of rain storms etc….what will I do if he has a heart attack or stroke? or gets hit by a car on one of his super bike rides…

    Sometimes life is just too real at the moment…I know that is when you need to plan most…I thought I had a $10,000 write a book grant, that has faded to nothing – but the book is drafted…
    Wow…I am unloading here…which is not my intend only my frustration, which I am working to get out and beyond…

    The travel people called and canceled my walking tour of Scotland this morning – no one else signed up…20 years saving for this trip…and now I think I need to cash it out and pay the bills…

    I will go away now! Delete this if it ruins your post…I will not take it personally.

  3. JD, a good reminder. I outsource most of the mundane chores at home, and am fortunate that I just have to focus on a few things. This is the luxury of not working for a corporation or boss that can delegate stuff to you. Maybe I’ve started to take this for granted, and Patricia’s comment reminded me that not everyone is so fortunate.

  4. Amen! Life is to short to try to do it all. Personally and professionally, outsourcing allows you to do what you do best.

  5. Love the Pareto Principle. No doubt that most of our productivity comes with 20 percent of the time. I prefer a focus on output to a focus on hours put into a project.

  6. @ Positively Present

    I agree. Less is more, when it’s the right stuff.

    @ Patricia

    No need to go. Life’s throwing a lot of people curve balls these days. You’re not alone.

    If 80% of the pain is from 20% of the problems, it helps focus.

    If you have a book that was worth 10k, I wonder if you could pair with somebody who can turn it into 100k or more.

    @ Melissa

    Knowing what you want to outsource helps you figure out what you really value. If you can’t outsource yet, you might be able to at least cut down.

    For example, I made a decision a while back not to spend more than 30 minutes on administration and I let the rest go. There’s always tomorrow and now the MUSTs get done before the SHOULDs or COULDs.

    @ Daphne

    Too true. I’ve had the beneft of delegating on various teams. It’s actually taught me a lot about what to keep, what to give up and how to grow others.

    At home, I focus on a core set of scenarios and let the rest go. Periodically, I batch and focus to clean things up.

    @ Stacey

    Well put! Life is too short and I’m a fan of make the most of what you’ve got.

    @ Gennaro

    I agree. Ideally you flow more value, while cutting the time you have to spend.

  7. Thank you for recommending the book!
    It was a fascinating read – i am sure Tim Ferriss used this one as a prototype for his 4hww book 😉

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