It often feels as if there just isn’t enough time to get everything done. To-do lists keep getting longer, appointment books fuller and as I try to keep up by doing more and working faster, pressure builds up and I start to lose sight of the truly important things in life. If you have health issues, the time lost to sickness adds to the pressure and what little time there is, is often spent on the basic things needed to get by. Tasks often take longer as well and time slips away, spent on getting dressed, cooking a simple meal, making it to the pharmacy before they close and waiting for an asthma attack to improve.
The 80/20 rule, also called the Pareto principle states that 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. For example, 80% of the world’s wealth is owned by the richest 20% of the population. “Microsoft noted that by fixing the top 20% most reported bugs, 80% of the errors and crashes would be eliminated.” We have been using the 80/20 rule ourselves to manage chronic illness and disability. The first idea to go was that of perfection. I aim for an 80% finish. The last 20% often takes 80% of the time spent on a project and I would rather have the 80% in 20% of the time and move on to the next things on my to-do list.
The 80/20 rule has been implemented in many fields in different ways, but to me it has been most helpful when used to curtail that nagging desire for perfection. In my experience it is usually the first 20% that matters. The first 20% percent of writing usually produces the first draft whilst the consequent 80% is spent on rewriting and editing. The first twenty minutes spent on daily chores usually completes 80% of the crucial things on the list. The first 20% of time spent on a game when aiming to complete all achievements covers 80% of the content. There are always exceptions, times when a high finish pays off and is worth 80% of my time and effort to nail that elusive last 20%, but in most cases, those tiny details aren’t even noticed by 80% of people.
Time is precious and as much as I love the idea of balance, few things in life have equal returns. I have sunk 80% of resources into goals that ended up as a 20% return and I have also spent very little time and effort of goals that exceeded my expectations five fold. Aim for 80. Then stop and re-evaluate. Hopefully, 80% of the time, 80% is good enough.