The 80/20 Rule

I have been reading Tim Ferriss' high-intensity book The Four-Hour Workweek and one tidbit that has stuck with me is his exploration of the 80/20 rule.

This rule states that in any given situation, 20 percent pulls more weight than the other 80. In an average work day you'll be productive 20 percent of the time, and screw around the rest of it. Most of the benefits of an exercise program will come from 20 percent of your effort. And around the house, you can bet that 20 percent of your stuff is actually important, and the rest of it is dross.

This has me thinking. Sarah has been working on the 100 Things Project--trying to winnow her total possessions down to 100 items. Yeah, right. At rough count, I'd say I personally own one thousand items, especially counting the CDs and the books, and I'm not in a hurry to divest myself of any of them. But are they important items, or are they draining me of my life energy?

Then there's my work day, which is, to be generous, about as organized as an dyslexic file clerk on crack. I don't even have a work day. I have a schedule that I have to keep in pencil and which gets erased and re-worked until the pages wear thin. Talk about misused energy. If I count scheduling, phone calls, obsessive email-checking and financial fretting as work hours, then the 80/20 rule is holding strong. How much of my life am I frittering away again?

When I hold up this same rule to my spare time (waaaaay too much TV), my internet habits (do I really need to check Swap-Bot every day?), and my dietary choices (cheeseburger and fries vs. garden salad), I begin to see a theme.

It may be time to cut the fat, as Tim says. And not just the cheeseburgers, either.

1 comment:

PocketCT said...

Part of the problem of stuff isn't just that it drains your energy by its existence, it is how it changes the way you think. Let's take movies for example - after a certain point you have as many films as a small video store. In your brain you start to think like a video store, as in what will complete my collection and it is never, ever done. The problem is with the collect all ### mode. If you only have one or two... whatever, but if you have enough to make a "collection" a possibility it takes over.

(This comment was in the 80% part of my day)

I think I may read that book.