The 80/20 Rule and Swindoll’s 90/10 Rule Converge

The Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 Rule, states that 80% of the output comes from 20% of the input. It suggests then that the goal we all should implement is to maximize that 20% and stop wasting our time on the majority of the tasks we do on a daily basis because they do not assist us in achieving the best outcomes.

Comparably, Charles R. Swindoll said that “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.”

I’ve been thinking about the convergence of these two principles and how to harness them to maximize satisfactory results, whether that is in work, home, relationships, health or spirit.

Of course, sometimes you need to perform low input tasks in order to become more proficient; so the 80/20 rule cannot always be applied. It stands to reason however that the better you become at doing those tasks that are less effective, at some point, you will be doing more of those things that yield the highest results. If you cannot gain the skill needed for a task, you either don’t continue with that task (if you can get away without doing it without harming yourself, your business or others) or delegate to someone who can. For example, I maybe a good bookkeeper but I hate doing it, so I delegate it to someone who does it easily. Freeing up time from what is a chore for me allows me the opportunity to perform activities with a high output. It is financially more rewarding to me and a lot less stressful.

Pareto Principle picture

Sometimes however, you can’t get away from the stress. That’s where I think Swindoll’s 90/10 principle comes into play. I believe that this is really a balancing act. When I was younger, for example, I operated on the principle that if the money was green, I would perform the tasks. I had demanding and unreasonable clients and I was spending an excessive amount of time placating them. Now, I am learning to ask myself whether it’s worth the high output, if my reaction to it, in terms of stress, lack of sleep, physical health symptoms, and lack of free time is having an overall deleterious effect on my health and wellbeing. Sometimes, the answer is still yes but I am more aware that I am making the choice to react in that manner. Sometimes, the answer is that the stress is just not worth the trouble and I refuse the work in favor of other work which is just as high output but much lower input on both the Pareto and Swindoll scales.

What choices do you make to maximize your life output and reduce your input? Please share!


© Suzan D. Herskowitz


My thoughts on being home bound

Now that Snowzilla is basically over, I thought I’d share some ideas that started forming last Friday evening. I was reading my Facebook newsfeed when these ideas started forming, and I have been giving it some serious thought ever since.

It started when I noticed that just a few hours after the snow started my friends were complaining about cabin fever. What I realized is that I am perfectly OK with being alone for a few days. Let’s start with the fact that the snow really didn’t get on the way until after lunch time on Friday and I had been to the grocery store that morning, so it’s not like I had been housebound on Friday evening for hours and hours and hours. So I really did an awful lot of head scratching when people I knew were complaining of being stir crazy by 7 p.m. Friday evening.

By Saturday, with a great deal of snow on the ground and more coming, I had friends actively seeking restaurants and bars that were open. Perhaps I don’t get the idea of going out in a blizzard and walking 6 to 8 blocks in the snow to sit in a bar and drink. I suppose there is the Cheers-like atmosphere that people crave. Perhaps I just don’t have that gene in me because I was perfectly content to be home with a movie, a book, and a cup of tea. I certainly didn’t want to spend $6 on a hard apple cider that I had in my refrigerator and cost me the equivalent of a buck and a half (and that I wasn’t in the mood to drink – that need to hit the liquor store before a storm? What’s that about?); I also wasn’t up to eating a burger for $10 when I could make delicious food at home.

Like I said, I’m probably missing that Cheers gene. Certainly to each his own.

On Sunday, I was content to go stand outside and talk to the neighbors, and then retreat to the warmth of my home for another movie.

Don’t get me wrong. By Tuesday if I’m not dug out, I’ll probably feel a little crazy. But it’s only a few days and I live alone, unlike others who have husbands, wives, partners, and children living with them. They have people to talk to regularly.

Ultimately, this really isn’t about the snow, or anyone else’s way of dealing with it. It’s about me feeling comfortable enough in my own skin to be alone and not feel lonely. I realized, not for the first time, that while I enjoy being around people as most people can easily observe when they are around me, I am content with my own company. Puttering around the house and getting things accomplished that my normal life makes difficult at times, is actually blissful.

Yes. I said blissful. Even I didn’t think I would think that way about laundry. I don’t feel rushed or harried. I know I have time to accomplish whatever it is I want to do because I have nowhere to go. Most importantly,  I have time to rest. I get so little time to do that. Not being on any schedule. Not having to get dressed beyond a pair of yoga pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt is wonderful. Just getting to be is what is so blissful.

And that is a good thing.