Something about Pareto


Written on 1/14/2009 10:59:00 pm by sikapitan

I’m reading this book called the 4-Hour Work Week. In it, the author espouses a lean yet fulfilling lifestyle where wasted time on menial work is reduced. His mantra is “minimum effort for maximum result”.

His measurement of success is based on profit per effort. You could be earning RM 8,000 a month, and I’m earning RM 4,000, BUT if I only work an hour a day instead of your typical 9 hours a day, my profit per hour is more than yours many times over.

It’s a continuation of the Pareto Law (or better known as the 80/20 rule). This is usually associated with wealth where it has been observed that 80% of wealth goes to 20% of the population or a higher ratio than that. This can be applied to other aspects of life.

80% of your work output comes from 20% of your input. The other 80% of input you’re doing only contributes 20% of your total output. So the book practically explains how you can minimize all the unnecessary work consuming 80% of your time and focus on the 20% that actually leads to the majority of your profit/wage/output.

I won’t get into the whole wealth generation idea that he proposes. It’s mind-blowingly simple, but I’m just going to talk about handling e-mails, because I managed to try it for a few days (only, as we’re still a pretty top-heavy, hours-dependent organization).

In today’s age, everyone works through e-mail, especially in an organization like Maxis. However, this may lead to e-mail overload with unnecessary messages all coming in trying to gain our attention.

The solution? Never check your e-mails in the morning, because you’ll never get to the end of it. As soon as you reply in the morning, the response, even though it’s not important, will come soon after. So it’ll be a never-ending loop of e-mails over an issue that isn’t event .

Set your auto-responder to the following message: I am away and will only be answering e-mails from 12 – 1 PM and 5 – 6 PM. If it’s important and requires urgent response, please contact my mobile at *******.

I tried it for two days while I was away for site-surveys. Although it’s not really what the author meant (he probably wanted me to try it while I’m actually IN THE OFFICE), I realized that a lot of things get filtered through.

People don’t rush for a response, and nothing gets broken along the way. Sometimes a lot of people get all messed up over little things. I’m experiencing a lot of these unnecessary worry because of the top-down nature of the organization. “I want this done by yada yada yada” when the effect of the done deal is not going to manifest itself anytime this year or the next.
Why must everything be so tied to deadlines?

In truth, a lot of people are afraid to admit that their power is derived from their ability to turn every unimportant task into something so profoundly important that its non-completion would cause the whole world to collapse. It does not. The world keeps on revolving, and we have to decide whether we want to be a part of it and live our dreams, or worry about meeting that deadline.


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