When is Good Enough Good Enough?

Welcome back to time management month at Optimize Your Life.

I hope that what we’ve covered so far has been helpful, but maybe you’re already maximizing your efficiency.

Maybe you’ve already tracked your time and made a plan.

Maybe you’ve scheduled your unscheduled time and gotten enough sleep.

Maybe you’ve quit multitasking, started working in blocks, and cut out your time vices.

If you’ve already done all of that and you still don’t have time to do everything that you want to do, it’s time to bring in the Pareto Principle.

Pareto in Economics

The Pareto Principle comes to us from the world of economics.

This principle addresses inequality and states that as a general rule of thumb, 80% of benefits accrue to 20% of people (without government intervention).

Essentially, the wealthiest people in a society will end up with a very large portion of the wealth, while the vast majority will end up with very little.

The Pareto Principle has been co-opted by the productivity world as the 80/20 rule.

80/20 in Productivity

The 80/20 rule states that roughly 80% of [output] comes from 20% of [input].

80% of your income comes from 20% of your clients.

80% of your results come from 20% of your work.

80% of your happiness comes from 20% of your time usage.

This isn’t meant to be an exact measurement, of course. Instead, it is a reminder.

Everything in life is unevenly distributed. If we want to be as successful as possible we need to keep that in mind and use it to our advantage.

What is Most Important?

There isn’t enough time to do everything that we want.

That sucks, but it is a fact. As humans, we want too much out of our limited time on Earth.

Given that hard truth, what is the 20% that is most important?

You can think about this on a macro level. What 20% of projects do you want to pursue?

Or you can think about it on a micro level. What 20% of tasks on a particular project will most aid its success?

You can’t spend your time on everything. So be mindful of where your time will do the most good.

Is Good Enough Good Enough?

If you want something to be perfect, then you need to do 100% of the work with 100% effort and 100% attention.

Sometimes this is necessary. Some things are that important.

Usually it isn’t. Most things aren’t that important.

Find “good enough” and move on. Perfectionism takes too much time.

It’s Not About Laziness

This isn’t intended to encourage laziness and half-assing things.

I’m a firm believer that how you do anything is how you do everything.

Instead, it’s about getting the best results in the most efficient manner.

It’s about aligning your time with your values.

It’s about doing the best you can in a reasonable amount of time and moving on to more important matters.

When is a Better Result Worth More Time?

This requires using your judgement as to what is worth your time?

Is it worth studying an extra 2 hours if it would bump your grade on a test from 95 to 100?

How about 85 to 90? 65 to 70?

What if it’s a final exam?

Everyone’s decisions will be different.

The point is to recognize when large blocks of time are required to improve your results to a level that you don’t need or value.

Don’t allow perfectionism to suck up all your time on tasks that are not important to you or incremental improvements that you don’t need or value.

Join the Conversation!

How do you implement the 80/20 rule? Where do you see the most results from the smallest investment of time? Has perfectionism messed with your efficiency? Let us know in the comments!

4 thoughts on “When is Good Enough Good Enough?”

  1. I totally embrace this in my garden. Maybe because nature is so imperfect it’s easier to 80/20 outdoor projects?
    I love to cook, it’s super relaxing to me. So I don’t stress about the time I spend in the kitchen. Instead I choose to cook in large batches to save time, but still get to enjoy the process regularly.

  2. Perfectionism can be a curse.

    I like the thoughts of several productivity gurus on this topic.

    From Rory Vaden in Procrastinate on Purpose, when discussing delegation:

    ** You have to learn to be okay with things just being okay. You have to embrace the idea that someone else might not be able to do it as well as you—at first.

    From Jon Acuff in Finish:

    ** Perfectionism is never finished. That’s the lie. There’s no such thing as perfect, you can always improve. So perfectionism draws an ever moving, ever expanding finish line that you never reach. You get to be finished and imperfect or almost done and perfect.

    Sometimes you just have to ‘ship it’ and accept the flaws…
    Mark | The Productive Physician recently posted…Living Like an Academic Athlete with Drs Eric Benchimol & Richard KeijzerMy Profile

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