Most of us could use more clarity and focus when it comes to getting the things done that actually move the needle in our lives. Today I’m sharing a simple yet powerful productivity habit that will do just that! This episode covers the 80/20 rule: what it is and how to tailor it to your own life. If you’re ready to work smarter and not harder, this episode is for you!

here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [1:28] Learn more about our Feel Good Effect Coaching Certification and the foundational habits and process that we teach there.  Our program is all about helping you build a life-changing business or practice grounded in helping others or yourself achieve more calm, clarity, and joy through our proven, research-backed, habit and mindset frameworks. Yearly enrollment ends soon. 
  • [6:07] Understand the 80/20 rule or The Pareto Principle – that 20% of actions yield 80% of the results. 
  • [9:34] Dive into real-life examples to better understand this focus habit. 
  • [12:53] Reverse-engineer the results you’re looking for to figure out what habits and behaviors will get you there.
  • [15:11] Recognize if your habits and behaviors are getting you closer to your intended results by reflecting on them over time.

links mentioned in this episode

The Feel Good Effect Coaching Certification

The Feel Good Effect Book

read the transcript

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:01)

You’re listening to The Feel Good Effect. This is the most important habit for clarity, focus and productivity. Let’s make it happen

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:13)

Radically simple and ridiculously doable. The Feel Good Effect will help you redefine wellness on your terms. Hi, I’m your host Robyn Conley Downs. And I believe that wellness isn’t about achieving another set of impossible standards, but instead finding what works for you, drawing from cutting-edge science on mindfulness habit and behavior change. This podcast offers a collection of small mindset shifts that allow for more calm, clarity, and joy in everyday life and allows you to embrace the idea that gentle is the new perfect. I invite you to listen in as we cut through the clutter and find the small shifts that create huge changes in your life. Less striving, more ease. It’s time to feel good.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:02)

Well, Hey, Feel Good fam. I am so glad you’re here. I am sharing arguably the most important habit for clarity, for focus and for productivity, but getting the right things done. So not getting more done, but getting the things done that actually move the needle in your life, that help you feel the way that you wanna feel and be the person that you wanna be.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:28)

And this is a habit that is foundational to our Feel Good Effect Coaching Habits and Mindset Certification. This is a process that we teach in that certification and then a process that our coaches coach on. And I wanted to let you know that enrollment for our Feel Good Effect Habits and Mindset Coaching Certification is coming up here really soon. We only open this enrollment period for one week a year, and it’s not about false scarcity. It’s truly about alignment it in our own lives, myself and my partner, Dr. Andrew Downs run this program. And in order to give our full selves and our full focus and clarity to this program, we run it once a year and we run it as a cohort. So you, you go through it with a group of people who are going through the same things, who wanna grow in the same way, who, who are coming from different backgrounds and maybe have different areas that they focus on, but you do it as a group. And that’s why we only open enrollment once a year. And enrollment is coming up here quickly. And so if you want to become a coach or find out more, go to and then go to become a coach, and you can either find out about enrollment or you can get on a waitlist. So if you miss the window, no worries. You can always get on the waitlist and we will reach back out next year when enrollment opens again. So our Feel Good Effect Habits and Mindset Coaching Certification is all about helping you build a life-changing business or just a life-changing practice grounded in helping others or yourself achieve more calm, clarity, and joy through our proven research-pack, habit mindset framework. If you love the podcast or you love the book, this is a way to truly get a deep, deep, immersive dive into the work and also turn it into some kind of work, whether that’s a, a coaching business, whether you apply it to a business you already have, or you just use it in your everyday life in a very, very intentional way. It’s a program that equips you with the knowledge and skills to coach on habits and mindset and access exclusive access to our Feel Good Effect framework and principles. So you actually get the license and the right to use all of these practices in your own business. It’s a beautifully immersive online program. It’s not a lot of hours. So we definitely design for people who are all working full-time, who are parents, who have a lot going on, and we’ve really cut through all the clutter. We are gonna apply the habit I’m talking about today to how we design this so that we’re only teaching things that move the needle, not hours and hours, just intentional focused time. And we use person-centered coaching skills, behavior, change that habit, work mindset and strategies. So you can design an individualized coaching program that fits with your life or your business. It’s designed for people that already have a business or a coaching practice. So if you already have a business or a coaching practice, this is a beautiful addition. Like I said, it gives you access to all of our frameworks and principles. And also for people who are interested in starting something new. So maybe this is the time in your life where you’re ready to, to take the plunge and do something different. Maybe you’ve been away from work and you wanna start something new or you just feel called to find out more, it’s cohort-based. It’s only in spring. It’s opening up in just a few weeks, maybe one or two from the air date. So if it’s not for you you’ll know, but if you’re interested or called at all, I would say go to, find out more, get on the waitlist. So as soon as it opens up, you are able to enroll. If this is the year for you, or if it’s not, you can get on the waitlist and we’ll reach out again. You’ll have to wait at least a year for the next cohort. This is my absolute favorite thing that we do every year. And again, my, my partner, Dr. Andrew Downs is heavily involved in this as well. And we basically took 50 years of combined expertise and work and have distilled it down a 10-week course that not only you get the information, you get the practical skills, but you also get certified as a coach. So I can’t wait, wait to welcome some of you into our spring 2022 cohort, and to meet you and find out about what you are, you know, your hopes and dreams, and to work together so that you can use The Feel Good Effect to help people change their lives.

Robyn Conley Downs: (06:07)

And on that note, let me tell you what this one habit is because I use it to run multiple businesses. I run Real Food, Whole Life full time. We do a weekly recipe sometimes too. We do this podcast every single week, plus I’m running the certification. Um, I have the book and many other things in the works. And the only way I get that done is one habit. And that habit is a thinking habit, no surprise. We use the neuroscience on thinking habits in the certification. I’ve talked about it in the book, and I talk about it here. So this thinking habit will absolutely help you with focus, clarity, and then productivity, but purposeful productivity, doing the things that move the needle. And that is the 80 20 rule. The 80 20 rule is Preto’s principle. You may have heard that of that before. I didn’t come up with it. It’s been around for a couple hundred years now. And it’s a principle that states that 20% of actions yield 80% of the results. So I’ll say that again to 20% of actions yield 80% results. So that means only 20% of your habits and behaviors are related or yielding the results that you’re looking for.

Robyn Conley Downs: (07:35)

Now, this is really good news because it means 80% of your actions are not related and not getting you to where you go, want to go. So if you’re feeling overworked, over tired, out of time, all over the place, like anything but clear anything but focused, anything but productive that maybe you’re trying to do too much. And most possibly you’re doing things that aren’t actually moving the needle. Now the 80 20 rule holds up across the board. I have a book chapter in The Feel Good Effect. You wanna read that, but it holds up pretty much in any instance. So in your relationships, 20% of how you show up in the behavior and actions you’ve taken, a relationship are leading to the results that you want in that relationship, whether it’s connectivity, whether it’s love, whether it’s support and the good news of this is it’s not about working harder. It’s about working smarter and it doesn’t even have to be work. It can just be a sense of being smarter, not pushing harder. I see it show up over and over in the work that I do. And it’s the one thing that has changed the game for me over the last eight years, where I went from working full-time, in school, with a two year old, doing Real Food, Whole Life as a side hustle to now eight years later, running multiple businesses, wildly successful at this point, leaving my full-time job, hiring P people, and then now spreading and sharing it with so many people is this habit. And if I didn’t have it, the habit, there’s no way I would be able to do what I do because I would just be working nonstop every single hour of every single day, which I don’t, I don’t even work a full 40 hour week, most weeks.

Robyn Conley Downs: (09:34)

So let’s look at a as couple specific, tangible 80 20 examples. So for example, like I mentioned, I am the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of We have hundreds of recipes and resources and information about happy habits and healthy recipes on that site. And if you look at the data, the analyatics of our recipes and how popular they are, and we use some metrics like page views and unique visitors. So how many people are using a recipe or viewing a recipe. If you take all of the recipes and you look at the number of people that come to each one, it’s very clear that 20% of our recipes give us 80% of our page views and our traffic. It’s actually less than that. It’s like 5%. It’s, it’s wild. It’s wild. When you start to see this, because you, it becomes clearer and clearer. And so what that has meant for me over time as a business owner, and as a recipe developer, and as someone who runs a content website, is that I have become better and better at figuring out the 20% recipes so that I can do less. There was a point where I was doing, I don’t know, four or five recipes a week. Now I do one. And yes, part of why I can do one is like, I have a, all of those other pieces of content on the site. More than that, it’s about saying, here’s, what’s moving the needle. Here are the 20% that people want, that people come to, that are popular. How do I do more of those? Or how do I do less of everything else? So I can focus on those things.

Robyn Conley Downs: (11:14)

Instagram is another example. These are places where I have hard data. So it’s a really nice way to show examples, 20% of what I post there is responsible for 80% of our engagement. And so if we can get better at looking at like, what is moving the needle, what is the 20%, how do we continue to do the 20% and get rid of the rest? Well, then I spend a lot less time in that platform. We don’t put as many resources in to it.

Robyn Conley Downs: (11:39)

And the things we do are actually helping us moving the needle, the 80 20 principle, and this thinking habit shows up also on like the more wellness side of things. And I’ve talked about that, but here, before, I’ve talked about that as like a morning routine as having your good list and having your recharge list that you don’t need to be doing self-care all day, every single day, you don’t have to be eating the perfect diet at every single meal or working out for three hours a day. When you know what your 20% activities are. I call them being brilliant at the basics. Then you don’t have to do more. And for me, like the morning routine is such a beautiful time because that’s full of those 20% activities. So for me, that’s always a walk. It’s always water, and it’s always veggies with breakfast. I’ve mentioned that before. Now, those might not be your 20%, but those it’s been this process of uncovering the 20% and constantly asking, is this action moving the needle toward my, the result that I’m looking for?

Robyn Conley Downs: (12:53)

And so that’s really the next logical step. Once you realize that this thinking habit can be foundational, it’s starting to ask the question over and over in every place in your life that you want and where I see people get stuck and where, where our coaches really are helpful. And also you can find a coach at find a coach. We have many certified coaches that would love to work with you on these concepts, but you can also do it yourself. I always give you that up. Give the give freely right, is what we’re all about here, where people get stuck. And I think where coaching can be helpful is they are want to know what the 20% is right now. They wanna sit down, they wanna make a list and say, what are my 20%? And I’m, I have to tell you that that’s the backward. You can’t do it that direction. You have to go and reverse engineer. So you have to try something and then you have to look back and see which things contributed to that result. So I always say, start with the, that you’re looking for, be very clear about that. Whether it’s, I want to feel more energized. I want to feel more focused, or if it’s something like I want to be able to do a 5k, that was something I mentioned on what to focus on in March, or I want to launch a successful business right now, what I’m working on is getting the certification ready. So my result is launching the successful certification. So everything that goes into that, the emails and the marketing and the platform and the, the like welcoming our coaches and all of that is what I’m focused on. So you start with the results in mind. Maybe it’s more connection in a relationship. Maybe you wanna leave your job. There’s many, many different results that we could be looking for. But first you have to be crystal clear on what the result is that you’re looking for. And then you’re going to reverse engineer. So what do I need to get there? What are the habits and the behaviors and the actions that are going to take me from here to the result. So it’s really hard to 80 20 when you don’t know what you’re working toward, because you can’t tell what’s moving the needle when you don’t know what you’re trying to move the needle for.

Robyn Conley Downs: (15:11)

So you have the thinking habit, you have the 80, 20 thinking habit. Then you have the result. You reverse engineer from there. This is where like the habit really comes into play. It’s looking at what you’ve done and asking, is it connected to the result and op time is this beautiful gift that we have when it comes to the 80 20 habit? Cuz the more time you have, the more that you can look back and really see the patterns like really know, did this connect to that. So this is like a secondary habit that I’ve really defined and honed for myself. And when that I, again, league giveaway, but I have to say like a coach, this is just such a powerful coaching activity as well is to look back each week at what I did and say, which of these things helped me toward the result and which ones were busy work, which ones were just filling time, which ones were the things that I was so convinced I had to do, but actually didn’t end up directly affecting the results.

Robyn Conley Downs: (16:19)

And so it’s really that it’s asking, what do I, what is the result? Reverse engineer, look at your daily actions and habits. And then over time be asking on a weekly basis on a monthly basis. This is something I do ruthlessly every, every single week for my, when it comes to focus, clear clarity and productivity is I have my list of things to do. And then at the end of the week on Friday, I plan out my next week. But then I look back and I literally will circle the things that I think, move the needle and put a little note next to the like a, I have a little color that I use to show what I don’t think. And then as I do this week after week, it is amazing, amazing how effective this has become for me, because I can let things go when we talk about what’s important and what’s urgent.

Robyn Conley Downs: (17:12)

And I have clients that say like, everything is, I need to do this. This is this, this it’s like, no, that’s probably not true, but let’s look at it. And for me, I get really hung up on certain things like I need to do this and I need to do that and this has to happen and that has to happen, but it’s beautiful to be able to go back every week and realize like that actually didn’t impact the result. So I can let that go. And if you watch what I’m doing really carefully, which I don’t expect any of you to do, you can see that I let things go, that I put things on pause that I take really long breaks. And sometimes I completely let them go because I know, okay, this action, this behavior, this habit was not connected to the result I wanted. And I only knew that through knowing what result I was looking for, reverse engineering and then looking on a daily and weekly basis, like did this move the needle? And it really is that simple. It’s not a complex concept. It’s the daily practice though. That actually makes it life changing. And I cannot overstate the fact that if I hadn’t adopted this early on, there’s no way I would’ve been able to create one successful business, let alone two, while I’m still taking care of my life myself. I start every day with that morning routine, I have not given up taking care of myself. I’ve kept that at the center of things while still building successful businesses. I’m still a very present mom. I’m able to work under a 40 hour work week so that I can be there for her when she gets home from school. So that I take I’m off when she has vacations and no school days of which there are many is to be able to weed out what doesn’t matter to weed out the items on the list that I think I have to do, but actually don’t take me where I wanna go. And I do think it’s a disciplined practice. I’m very wary of that, where discipline, because I think it gets used kind of in, in the wrong way. And it gets mixed up with willpower and people think that just discipline alone is what you need and really what you need is habits and a MI and mindset. But I think the discipline of this practice of this habit of asking over and over again is this, is this a 20% and is this connected to a result and then asking, and then looking back and asking and looking back in this like upward spiral allows you to get to that point where it becomes a lot more intuitive. It’s not a discipline anymore.

Robyn Conley Downs: (19:47)

So that truly is my number one habit for clarity, for focus, for purposeful productivity. And I think for wellness also in pretty much every area of my life, it is fundamentally foundationally life-changing. And again, I didn’t come up with the concept of Pareto’s principle and other people talk about it as well. I just like to remind you and teach you in the context of The Feel Good Effect, how powerful this one habit can be around clarity, focus and productivity.

Robyn Conley Downs: (20:25)

As always, I wanna thank you so much for listening for being part of this conversation and this feel-good movement. If you feel called to find out more about The Feel Good Effect Coaching Certification, or you wanna find a coach near you, you can go to under coaching, go to become a coach. And if you don’t get to that in the next week or so, no worries we’ll be here, but enrollment will not be available until spring of 2023. Thank you again for listening until next time, here’s to feeling good.

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