What is it?
The 80/20 Rule, a.k.a. the Pareto principle, stems from observations made by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1906, including the fact that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Or, generalizing to other situations, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes.
But why do I like it so much, and why it is your friend?
Because it can help you make decisions…and not worry so much…and get stuff done!
Here are some examples of The 80/20 Rule:
You wear 20% of your clothing 80% of the time. Think about it. I know I do. To prove it, turn all of the hangers in your closet around backwards. Turn each one back right-side around only after you have worn that item of clothing, washed it, and hung it back up. After a few weeks or months it will be obvious which clothing you aren’t actually wearing. It doesn’t really matter why. (Doesn’t fit? Doesn’t flatter? Needs repair?) What matters is that you can safely and comfortably donate more of them than you though you could, thus creating more space in your closet.
You only ever refer back to 20% of the papers in your filing cabinet. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t file papers, but it does perhaps free your mind to get rid of the other 80% (OK…how ’bout 50%?) in your annual purge, realizing you didn’t need them after all. Look for duplicate documents and outdated annual policies. Think twice about what you are filing. Keep a shredder and a recycle bin handy.
Garage, Pantry, Craft Room
You probably only use 20% of what you store there on a regular basis (or, 80% of the time). So why keep all that other stuff? Could you get rid of 50% of it? You’d still have the 20% you use, and 30% left for occasional use or I-might-need-it-someday purposes. Just imagine the space you’d free up in the process!
80% of your sales (and income) comes from 20% of your clients. Knowing this makes it possible to determine which clients on which to focus your advertising and customer service efforts.
Time Management & Productivity
20% of your time yields 80% of your results. So, choose wisely how you spend your time! The corollary is that the last 20% of a project takes 80% of the time spent on that project, which is a good reason to avoid perfectionism. Usually (I’m gonna say…um…80% of the time?) good enough is just exactly that — good enough! As Voltaire said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” (It’s also the enemy of DONE.)
I recently watched a documentary on the Appalachian Trail which stated that the first 80% of it (if you’ve gone south to north) takes only 20% of the effort. Which means you might want to rethink that last 20%!
80/20 Rule applications I am making up off the top of my head as I write this
80% of the benefits of cleaning your home come from cleaning the most-used 20% of the space (including kitchen and bath). Same goes for a de-cluttering and organizing project (which room, or rooms, bother you the most?), and for tidying up for last-minute company (which spaces are they most likely to see?).
If you spend 20% of your time planning your activities, the other 80% — DOING the things you planned — will be SO MUCH EASIER!
You spend 80% of your time with 20% of your friends (both in person, and online)…don’t you?
What other applications — useful, or just-for-fun — can YOU think of for The 80/20 Rule?
Please share them in the comments below!—————————————————————————
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