Finding balance in a chaotic world

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December 2017
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The 80/20 Rule

BusinessThere is a common axiom in business called the 80/20 rule. It means that in general, 80% of your X is caused by 20% of your Y. That is 80% of your revenue is generated by 20% of your customers or 80% of the work is performed by 20% of the people. While the numbers may not be accurate, the basic idea that a majority of something is usually caused by a minority of something else is accepted as fact. What is an interesting question to ask is can we apply this to our personal life?


Think about your day. It is pretty easy to see that 80% of your time is often taken up by 20% of the total items you do, that is by your job. Once you get home from work, then you have much less time left in your day to accomplish all the myriad of other things that need to be done. Keeping up the house, making dinner, relaxing, working on a hobby, bathing, parenting, etc. Now while it would be nice to quit work so you could focus all of your time on the things you need or would prefer to do, it is obviously not very practical.


So what can you do then? In a nutshell, look at how you spend your time away from work, your free time. Are there things that take an inordinate amount of time to perform in relation to how much use/joy you get out of it? For instance, if you often eat out because it is quicker, how much time are you really saving? If you were to start a stopwatch from the moment you decided it was time to find/make something to eat to the time when you are completely done and home again, would the time be different between eating out and cooking? Generally speaking the time it takes to get in the car and drive to a restaurant is equal to the time it takes to prepare the food. The time it takes to drive home is probably less than the time it takes to clean up after making a meal. So that leaves the time waiting for a table and waiting for your order to arrive as lost time.


Obviously, you don’t always go out to eat just to save time, but the analysis is still indicative of how you could analyze your time. It may be as you look at the various ways you spend your free time that something you do because you think you enjoy it, turns out to not be as enjoyable as you think. Also, you could possibly find more efficient ways to spend your time for the various household chores you do and thus free up more time to do things you want to. For instance, if you pick up the living room for a few minutes every night, you won’t have to spend and hour or two on it every Saturday. Surely five minutes of work at the end of each evening is easier to spend than an entire hour on Saturday.


So I encourage you to look at how you spend your time and try to discover the things that are eating up your free time. See if there are more efficient ways to get the same results and make the necessary schedule adjustments to make it happen. It may turn out that you suddenly have much more free time when you want it.