What’s Your "80/20" Number?

I read a fascinating article by a woman named Noelle Nelson that I want to share with you, because it can apply not only to writers, but to everyone in the world. How’s this for a fascinating fact:

Most of us spend 80% of our time on things that really don't matter and only 20% of our time on the things that really do matter.

WHAT, you say? Well, there's a concept in economics called "Pareto's Law," or the "80/20 Rule." In a nutshell, a 19th century economist, Vilfredo Pareto, noticed that 20% of the people owned 80% of the land, and similarly that 20% of his peapods produced 80% of his peas. Much later, Joe Juran, looking to improve factory production during WWII, realized that 20% of the factories were responsible for 80% of all defective parts, and vice-versa.

What could the "80/20 Rule" possibly have to do with you? Simply put, most of us spend 80% of our time on things that really don't matter all that much to us, and only 20% of our time on the things that really matter. Huh . . .

Ask yourself, who do you spend the most time with? The people who uplift you, support you, cherish you? Or those who bore you, annoy you, cause you endless irritation or grief? What do you spend most of your time doing? Complaining, blaming, feeling sorry for yourself? Or praising, appreciating, finding value in what you do? How about activities? Do you spend most of your free time in activities that engage you, inspire you, thrill you? Or do you just go with whatever flow happens to, well, flow at the moment? Facebook, TV, surfing the web . . .

It dawned on Noelle that she’d rather work a little longer/harder to earn some extra bucks (given that she really enjoyed her work, like we writers enjoy our writing), so she could pay a house-cleaner to clean her home, an activity she did not enjoy. And when given the option of taking a dance class rather than spending an hour on the couch watching a TV program, the appeal of a dance class won out. Dancing is now on her list of "top things she loves."

What's your percent? When you sit down and honestly assess with whom and where you spend your time—which is the same thing as saying "with whom and where you spend your life?"—what's your 80/20? Noelle suggests that we deliberately cut out or reduce those things that don’t give you joy, so that more and more of your time is spent in the 80% of stuff you really like to do.

Take a look at your friends and social life, including your social media life. She suggests we deliberately reduce or cut out the time we spend with those who don’t make our “things I love” list. 

It may sound odd to take such a calculated approach to life, but time really is all we have. How and with whom we choose to spend that time very much defines how happy we are in life. So stop for a few minutes to consider your “80/20” and you might just change your life!

P.S. I am taking Noelle’s advice to heart. Readers of this column know how much I love to travel, so I just surfed the web for some cheap airline flights, and it looks like I’ll be travelling to Prague and Warsaw at the end of June! 

Now THAT makes me happy!!

Until next month,

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