‘It is vain to do with more what can be done with less’ – William Occam
I was making lemonade out of lemons today (no pun intended) and I noticed something incredible. I physically saw Pareto’s Law in action right in front of my eyes in a matter of minutes.
What is Pareto’s Law? It is the 80/20 rule, coming from the mind of a forgotten Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. The concept is simple, 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes, ie 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts.
How did I see this while juicing lemons? Well, I noticed that about 80% of the juice in the lemon was extracted using just 20% of my effort (the initial 2 squeezes). The remaining 20% of the juice left in the lemon required the other 80% of my effort: another good 20 seconds squeezing and juicing the hell out of that lemon to get those last few drops.
Let’s talk more about the 80/20 Rule. It is what I believe the epitome of effectiveness. Being effective is about WHAT you do as opposed to HOW WELL you do something.
Here are 2 points to remember:
1) Doing something unimportant well does not make it important
2) Requiring a lot of time does not make it important.
I can safely assume that most of us mortals including myself are pretty lazy people who look for shortcuts in almost everything we do. That’s why the 80/20 rule is a godsend.
Use this rule daily to maximize results with minimal effort. Forget all the details and unnecessary information. Cultivate selective ignorance. Focus all your efforts on the points that guarantee results and are bound to generate output.
Studying for an exam? Forget the details which will consume 80% of your time and only produce an extra 20% to your mark. Focus on the 20% that will get you 80%.
What do you do with all the time you’re left with? Don’t overthink it. For any students reading this, TIME NOT SPENT STUDYING IS NOT TIME WASTED.
I wish someone could’ve grabbed my head and screamed it to my face a few years ago when I was slaving away at the little details that drove me to insanity, Howard Hughes style.
Be effective, do the essentials, forget the details and GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE. Go juice some lemons, maybe you’ll learn something.