Good perspective on the 80/20 rule and the obvious benefit of hindsight!
It’s easy to be cynical about the 80/20 rule. There are too many hucksters selling books and consulting services that boil down to saying “concentrate on what’s most productive.” Thanks. Never would have thought of that. Let me write you a check.
At one extreme is the belief that everything is equally important, or at least equally likely to be important. At the other extreme is the belief that 80/20 principles are everywhere an that it is possible to predict the “20″ part. Reality lies somewhere between these extremes, but I believe it is often closer to the latter than we think. In many circumstances acting as if everything were equally important is idiocy or sloth.
You can improve your chances of correctly guessing which activities are going to be most productive. Nobody is going to write a book that tells you how to do this in your particular circumstances. It takes experience and hard work. But you can get better at it over time.