Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The 80/20 Rule: 5 Places To Focus On To Declutter 80% Of Your Life

Most of us have probably heard of the 80/20 rule, also called the Pareto's principle. Pareto's principle states that 80% of effects come from 20% of the cause. Sometimes the actual ratio fluctuates to 70/30 or 90/10 but the main idea behind the rule still holds true.

Humble Beginnings

The idea that only 20% of anything account for 80% of the overall result was first proposed by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in the early 1900s. He discovered that 80% of Italy's landholdings were owned by 20% of the population. The principle was first adopted to explore serious social issues as probably intended by Pareto himself, but soon enough people began to realize that the 80/20 rule is visible everywhere.

Since then Pareto's principle became a sort of mantra among individuals who want to stay on top of everything that's going on in their lives. Our hectic modern schedules don't leave much room for careful planning, and most of the time we're content doing things on the fly and letting things run their course. However, the 80/20 rule invites us to take a closer look at our everyday activities and to weed out the important stuff from the not-so-important ones.

With the Pareto principle in mind, you can actually change the way you run your household, office and ultimately your life. The idea is that by changing 20% of the things that you usually do, you can improve the overall results of your work by 80%.

The 80/20 rule means that you don't really have to exert too much effort to bring about the results that you want, but identifying that critical 20% is the challenge. If you want to simplify and declutter your life, you have to focus on that 20% to ensure that you don't waste your time doing. The key is to find the value in everything that we own or do.
Here are some places where you can apply the Pareto principle to bring about higher satisfaction and productivity levels:

  1. Closet. Your closet is home to clothes that you probably don't use. Are you already short on storage space because of all the clothes you've accumulated but have never worn? Identify the clothes that you actually like and use, and then throw out the others or donate them to charity. Other people can use the things that you don't, so why keep them? Besides, you will have a better experience choosing your outfit if everything is hung or folded neatly inside a roomy closet.
  2. Worktable. Your work desk is probably the most disorganized area in your house. What are the things that you really need on that table? What are the things that are just taking up space and accumulating dust but are never actually useful? Put away the things that don't help you with your work because you're better off having more elbow room as you take phone calls or answer emails. Besides, these unwanted items can only distract you from the task at hand and slow you down.
  3. Kitchen. Your kitchen may be filled with all the fanciest equipment and the most expensive ingredients, but probably cook with only 20% of them. Don't waste your money and time on things that are just meant to impress guests. If you're not a professional chef, you don't really need all those shiny chrome gadgets and copper pans.
  4. Bedroom. Some people sleep better with clutter around them, but it's actually more sensible for to sleep in a room that's clean and organized. You will be able to get dressed for work faster if everything is where it should be, from your socks and shoes down to your ties and cuff links. You no longer have to spend the better part of an hour looking for your lost briefcase amidst all the clutter of your room.
  5. Attic. Most homeowners think that their attics are black holes that simply suck their unwanted and forgotten junk into oblivion. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Instead of putting away unused items in boxes and storing them up in your attic, you have to sort through them regularly and determine which ones should leave your home for good. Otherwise you'll just end up having a house where all the unwanted stuff collects dust in the attic.

What are the areas you think would have the most payoff for decluttering?

Krisca Te can be found visiting blogs that cover topics about productivity. She is also a personal finance junkie who is currently working with Australian Credit Cards, a personal finance guide based in Sydney, Australia.

Thanks to Krisca Te / SimpleProductivityBlog


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