Book Thoughts: Living the 80/20 Way

Do you sometimes feel as though you do a lot of work for little or no result? Do you ever do one simple thing and reap unexpected rewards? This is called the Pareto rule of 80/20 and is surprisingly accurate in many aspects of life. As a follow up to his popular book The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less, Richard Koch discusses how to implement the philosophy into everyday life in Living The 80/20 Way: Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More. The focus of the book is on creating a simpler lifestyle by eliminating waste and maximizing what you do that creates value.

The basics of the 80/20 principle are that the top 20 percent gives 80 percent of the results and other 80 percent gives 20 percent of the results. A common example is that the top 20 percent of the population of the world hold 80 percent (or more) of the worlds money.

By understanding how the most important and productive things you do give you the most success; you can fundamentally change how you approach life. Does the small amount of time you spend on friends, families, hobbies or travel give you the most happiness? Does the large amount of time spent at, or traveling to and from work, give you any happiness at all?

When you focus on what in life gives you joy, you can eliminate parts of your life that you might think make you happy, but really don’t. Let’s say you spend a few hours each week watching TV or spend time on a computer when you get home from work. You do this to unwind, relax or recover emotionally, but do you actually get an equivalent amount of joy for the time you put in? Wouldn’t you actually enjoy learning an instrument, spending time with friends, exercising, reading a book or speaking a new language much more?

I realized that I would tend to come home from work and lose one, two, even three hours afterwords doing who knows what just to unwind.  Then I realized I should get up and do something I really wanted to do with my life! I would justify putting projects off by saying, “I worked all day and I deserve a break,” or “I just need to unwind for a few minutes.” Realistically, what I should have been doing was decide on a few areas of my life that I wanted to improve, make progress in or learn something about and immediately come home ready to work on those passions. Instead of coming home and watching TV, playing video games or surfing the web I come home and write, exercise, read, etc.

The book has you discover in both your professional and personal life exactly what it is that gives you the most happiness or results. Then you spend more time on the highest producing parts of your life and less time doing the things that don’t make your life better.

Should you read this book? If you feel like your life is overly complicated, that you aren’t making much progress on your life goals or want to simplify your life, Living The 80/20 Way is a good starting point. Instead of bogging down your life with time wasting and life draining activities, start to look at what areas of your life you can eliminate or simplify so that you have more time, energy and money to spend on what really matters most to you.