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


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