Life Quality

Pareto

Pareto Principle: Get rid of the less important, using the 80-20 rule!

Pareto Principle: Get rid of the less important, using the 80-20 rule!25601389Manolis Stratakis

The Pareto Principle (80-20 rule)

Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist realized that 80% of his country’s wealth was held by 20% of the Italian population. It didn’t take long for him to understand that this was true, not only for Italy but also for the rest of the world. On top of that, it was not only true regarding the distribution of wealth but it was valid in a much wider context. All that, led to the Pareto principle.

Let’s see this principle under the prism of personal development. We can say that 20% of our effort is responsible for about 80% of the desired outcome. The rest 80%, accounts only for the 20% of the outcome. The more we apply this principle in our everyday life, the more we realize that it is an invaluable tool for clarity and self-awareness. After all, it helps us distinguish between the vital few and the trivial many. In other words, between the few important and the many unimportant.

Pareto

Some examples of the Pareto Principle

  • 20% of our clients bring 80% of our revenues
  • 20% of advertisement accounts for 80% of sales
  • We wear 20% of our clothes in the 80% of the time
  • From 20% of our friends we get 80% of support and satisfaction
  • In 20% of our home we spend 80% of our time
  • 20% of emails contain 80% of the important information
  • 20% of a meal contributes to the 80% of calories we take
  • Also the 20% of a dinner gives us the 80% of enjoyment (those eating their dinner indifferently, while eagerly waiting for the desert to arrive, are probably resonating with this example)
  • A 20% of illnesses is responsible for the 80% of deaths in the world
  • 20% of our experiences provides the 80% of our satisfaction
  • The 20% of a book contains 80% of most important knowledge and also 20% of the books we have read, contribute to 80% of our present education
  • 20% of the code running on a computer takes 80% of the CPU time

Of course, the ratio 20-80 is only approximate, it could be 30-70, 10-90 or anything similar. However the principle is valid in many different occasions. You can surely come up with your own examples from your personal experience.

What matters most, is the exact composition of the 20% and 80%. In other words, what falls under the 20% and what falls under the 80%.

Examples

  • Which part is the 20% of your Garde robe that you use 80% of the time?
  • From which 20% of your activities 20% you receive the 80% of your satisfaction?
  • In what do you spend 80% of your money which only contributes a 20% to your happiness?
  • Which 20% of your work brings the 80% of your results?
  • What 80% of the time you spend on the phone is not important?
  • Which 80% of your luggage contents is really necessary?

Pareto’s principle can be applied again and again in an iterative manner. After we have decluttered our wardrobe by throwing away or giving out the 1/5th of our clothes which we do not use often, we can apply the same principle again so we achieve an even finer outcome. The same can happen with our clients, our diet, our appointments and generally the management of all our critical resources.

The Pareto Principle in time management

Applying Pareto’s principle in everyday life can free up a lot of time, which was – until recently – spent in not important activities. For each activity filling up your day, ask yourself how useful it is. Then, use Pareto analysis in order to identify whether they belong in the important 20% or in the unimportant 80%.

Do more by doing less!

Finally, think how much time and energy you would free up after you stopped worrying about the last 20% (the least important), i.e. all those activities which return almost zero results. By doing less you end up doing much more! The trick is knowing which part to get rid of.

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See also our article “Eisenhower’s Matrix: An essential time management tool

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Time management

Eisenhower’s Matrix: An essential time management tool

Eisenhower’s Matrix: An essential time management tool25601784Manolis Stratakis

Is the time in our day enough?

Time is one of the most democratic things on the planet. Not intelligence. Neither money. Not even health or beauty. Not happiness. Time! Everybody has 24 hours. If you think about it, time is our most important asset. We start off as babies, having all the time of the world and as we grow up we come to a point when every single minute of our day is occupied with something. Then we complain we don’t have time. Wrong! We still have 24 hours. But our day is now filled with stuff. Now, it’s time for.. time management!

The Matrix as a time management tool

“When you don’t have time, make time”. It may sound counter-intuitive, but perhaps it is a perfect advice. The Eisenhower Matrix is the tool we need to make time.

US General and President Eisenhower once said:

I have two kinds of problems: Urgent and Important.

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important

Eisenhower Matrix

A common pattern in businesses but also in our personal life is that we often move insanely from one urgent matter to the next, having practically no time to attend to the important issues. Like a never-ending queue of urgent things which, no matter how many we complete, new ones continuously appear. We are at a constant war with a modern Lernaean Hydra. We cut one head and two new heads spring out of nowhere.

Let’s dive deep in time management

If we analyze the four areas of the Eisenhower matrix, it will immediately become clear how it will help us in our time management:

Quadrant 1: (Urgent and Important): Do First!

This is the most critical area, it contains tasks that are both urgent and important. These are “do first” tasks because they are critical for our life or career. Typical Q1 activities include important problems, deadlines and crises.

Quadrant 2: (Important, but Not Urgent): Schedule!

Here we place the tasks that are important, but not urgent. This is where we need to invest most of our time. These are usually our personal and professional long-term goals and activities relevant to the significant areas of our life like education, career, family, recreation or personal growth. Put these tasks in suspension until you find enough time to work on them carefully. Beware, these tasks may not be urgent, but if left neglected, sooner or later they become urgent.

Quadrant 3 (Not Important, but Urgent): Delegate!

If a task deserves to be in this quadrant, then you don’t deserve to perform it. It is most likely a distraction and you better pass it to someone else or postpone it. Many tasks appear to be urgent when actually they are not. Most messages and telephone calls fall into this category. If you answer every call or text you receive immediately, then you will not be able to do anything that requires undistracted attention. The same is true with business meetings. You don’t have to participate in every meeting you are invited, you can choose if you need to be present or not. A common source of Q3 activities is other people. Saying “no” politely or encouraging them to solve the problem themselves usually does the trick.

Quadrant 4: (Not Important, Not Urgent): Eliminate or Keep to a minimum!

These tasks that are neither important nor urgent are simply time wasters and they should be eliminated, or cut down to a minimum. If you drastically reduce the amount of time spent in quadrant 4 tasks, you will free up lots of precious time for your quadrant 1 or 2 tasks. Mindlessly watching television, playing games or surfing the web are only some of the typical ways for wasting time. This does not mean of course that watching a good movie or resting is a waste of time. We need to be very careful when distinguishing what is and what isn’t important for us.

Procrastination and time management

Sometimes, procrastination kicks in when we are not very clear about what is important or urgent. It causes confusion and leaves us standing still while trying to decide what to bring on the foreground next.

When you first try this tool, you may have some difficulty labeling your tasks. It may be frustrating and you may feel you are wasting your time. You are not wasting time, you are investing some of your precious time learning a great skill that will empower you with precious focus and self-awareness. It will save you way more time for the rest of your life.

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Increase your awareness by reading our article: Awareness Sharpening Games

 

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Happiness Cocktail

The Happiness Cocktail

The Happiness Cocktail25601789Manolis Stratakis

Is there a recipe that determines how happy we will be?

Why some people seem to be happy while others aren’t? What is exactly that makes us happy? Is it money, beauty, health, education or genes? Unquestionably all of these play a role.

Do we have a saying in our personal happiness?

Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research in identical and fraternal twins has shown that all people are born with a baseline of happiness. In other words, they come to life with their happiness programmed at some initial value. This initial value refers to the temperamental and affective traits everyone inherits from their parents and for every person is different. Higher in some, lower in others.

However, this genetic set point does not exclusively determine the overall level of our happiness, but only about 50% of it.

But wait, there are two more factors which play a determining role:

  1. the critical events happening in our life (positive or negative) and
  2. our own, deliberate, intentional activity: our actions

Therefore, in one hand we have what life brings us and on the other, what we do with that. What happens to us and how we tackle it.

Circumstances alone, do not determine our happiness

Most people believe that circumstances, such as our life events or our wealth and health, is the single greatest factor influencing our happiness. But as it turns out from the theory of Adaptation to Pleasure and other positive psychology theories, external circumstances contribute only around 10% to our overall happiness. On the other hand, the way we handle these circumstances influences our life by 40%, that’s 4 times more!

So life deals the card deck for us, but then it is up to us to play the game well.

Looking at it at another angle, we see that genes and circumstances account for a 60%, while our own actions account for the rest 40%. So, we have a 60% which is not under our control and a whopping 40% which is under our influence. Our thoughts, behaviors and actions control this 40%!

Happiness = Genes + Circumstances + Intentional Actions

As everything we consider important, our personal happiness requires some effort, enough commitment and absolute consistency.

So, where do we start?

A few first steps which will lead you towards this goal can be the following:

  • Understand what is good for your body and mind
  • Reduce overthinking
  • Stop social comparison
  • Invest time in your personal development
  • Cultivate your relations with people who are already there
  • Strengthen your resilience
  • Place goals and go after them
  • Increase your flow experiences

Last but not least, begin to feel happy, even if – at the moment – you aren’t! Just like when you start a journey and you still haven’t arrived at your destination.

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See also: Gratitude Jar: Empower your gratitude muscles!

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What are your Personal Core Values and how aligned are with your life?

What are your Personal Core Values and how aligned are with your life?150150Manolis Stratakis

What is the difference between our principles and our values?

Our personal values are hidden deep in our mind. Spending some time to discover them, allows us to see which aspects of our life are aligned with them and which are in some kind of conflict!

Principles

Our principles are pushed to us by others, from the outside world. They are taught to us. They help us conform to the norms of society. Principles are the musts of our life.

Values

Values ​​come from within us. They are all those things we consider important. Values are the wants of our life. They highlight what we stand for. They ​​guide us in life, especially in difficult times. So, our values largely determine our behaviors, decisions, and actions.

When our plain logic does not seem enough to help us make critical decisions, we mobilize our “heart”. The heart always takes decisions that are based on our values. In other words, when our decisions or activities are in line with our values, an internal motivation is created. Everything seems to roll smoothly. We feel joy and pleasure. We are fulfilled.

On the other hand, when we are forced to deal with something that questions values, we get a vague feeling that something is wrong. We might have a sense of internal tension, anxiety or guilt. As a result, procrastination may fire in as well as other unwanted behaviors.

Most common personal values

Our values ​​- like the instruments of an airplane – guide us through the storms. They define what is important to us and what we give priority to. They determine the decisions we make. Each of us has a different mix of values ​​that makes us special. Life flows smoothly when we live according to our values. But when, for any reason, we are forced to live in a way that is against them, then we get that elusive feeling that something is wrong. We can have a bad mood and low energy.

The moment we begin to think, speak and behave in a way which is aligned with our highest ideals and most important values, our self-image improves, our self-esteem rises and for the first time we feel real freedom. We feel much happier, we breathe, walk and move with a radically different confidence.

The list below shows some of the most important human values. First, think thoroughly and then note which ones resonate with you. Of course, you can always add one you might not see in the list.

Aesthetics
Optimism
Integrity
Change
Solidarity
Altruism
Recognition by others
Tolerance
Independence
Simplicity
Effectiveness
Avoid pressure or conflict
Determination
Security
Authenticity
Autonomy
Self-discipline
Self confidence
Generosity
Creativity
Dialogue
Justice
Action and variety
Power
Ability to express
Volunteering
Sincerity
Peace
Freedom
Free time
Confidence
Inspiration
Honesty
Development and growth
Professionalism
Communication
Persistence
Success
Courtesy
Inventiveness
Leadership
Balance
Equality
Cleanliness
Duty
Cultivation
Kindness
Understanding
Sociability
Prestige
Education
Family
Ecology
Teamwork
Beauty
Vision
Spiritual stimuli
Variety
Challenge
Offer to others
Initiative
Originality
Risk taking
Respect
Wisdom
Stability
Compassion
Cooperation
Prudence
Continuous learning
Travel
Art
Responsibility
Patience
Reputation
Friendship

Exercise: Find your own personal values

Don’t wait any longer to make the most valuable investment in yourself. Find those values that are at the core of your existence. Those that motivate you and make you stand out. Once you get to know them, you’ve already taken a big step in your personal development. And that’s only the beginning!

Think and write down your ten most important personal values (try to list them in an order of importance to you):

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

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Read also the article: An introduction to the wheel of emotions

 

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life quality

Improve your Life Quality starting with the Cantril Ladder tool!

Improve your Life Quality starting with the Cantril Ladder tool!16141125Manolis Stratakis

Cantril Ladder

A first step towards improving drastically your life quality

The quality of our life and therefore our happiness level, can actually be measured! One simple and easy way for this is using the Cantril Ladder.

Imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder do you feel you stand right now? Check the respective colored disk on the left column on the diagram (Present).

It is important to understand that our life is dynamic, it is always changing. It may change faster or slower, but it is changing. The question is: which direction will it take next? Will it change to better or to worse? Here, our active commitment comes into play!

Believing in change is the first prerequisite to trigger the actual change. The second is setting up a goal. A right goal should be specific, meaningful and feasible.

So, let’s try to place a realistic life-changing goal for the near future.

Exercise

On which step do you want to stand in five years from now? (Please take into account how feasible is your choice). Check the respective colored disk on the right column on the diagram (In 5 years).

Congratulations! You have just made a good step towards realizing you present situation and set up a realistic goal for improving it. Just by placing your goal in the radar, you increase the odds for achieving it. Now, hold on to your seat while you are getting there!

Also, check out the article: Wheel of Life: The big picture of your life

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The characteristics for each group (as set by the Gallup Organization, with some modifications by us) are described below:

Thriving (9-6) — wellbeing that is strong, consistent, and progressing. Respondents have positive views of their present life situation and have positive views of the next five years. They report significantly fewer health problems, fewer sick days, less worry, stress, sadness, anger, and more happiness, enjoyment, interest, and respect.

Struggling (5-3) — wellbeing that is moderate or inconsistent. These respondents have moderate views of their present life situation OR moderate OR negative views of their future. They are either struggling in the present, or expect to struggle in the future. Usually, they report more daily stress and worry about money than the “thriving” respondents, and more than double the amount of sick days. Also, they are more likely to smoke, and are less likely to eat healthy.

Suffering (2-0) — wellbeing that is at high risk. These respondents have poor ratings of their current life situation AND negative views of the next five years. They are more likely to report lacking the basics of food and shelter, more likely to have physical pain, a lot of stress, worry, sadness, and anger. They have less access to health insurance and care, and more than double the disease burden, in comparison to “thriving” respondents.

These characteristics are only useful to give you an idea and help you see if you have made a good guess. Sharpening our awareness is critical in understanding where we stand and where we want to go!

 

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