80/20 Rule Blog Kopitzke

The 80/20 Rule - Don't sit on it

Jun 09, 2023

The 80/20 rule or the Pareto Principle simply states that 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. This is a principle and not a hard and fast rule. It applies to nearly any situation. Sociologist and Economist Vilfredo Pareto discovered this when studying land ownership in Italy; 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the people. He also saw this in his garden, where 80% of the pea pods came from 20% of the plants.

You may already be aware of this rule and apply it at work or in some other aspect of life. ...

I've always used it in a positive perspective - which actions are producing the good results I'm seeing. This is also how it's written about in most articles and books. Focus your time and efforts on the 20% that matters most and not on the 80% that matters least.

However, this can also be applied to results you don't like. After all, we are talking about results or consequences. ...

I talk about this a lot with my clients. Modernity is the cause of many of our problems today when it comes to physical capability. When you can get anything you need with a push of a button, how important is it to be physically capable?

If you want to perform well on the baseball field, you'll require a certain level of physical capability. Last time I played, there wasn't a button I could push to throw a strike, hit a curveball, field a grounder or steal a base.

I'm not suggesting that everything about modernity is bad, I definitely enjoy many aspects of it. It's simply not aligned well with developing or maintaining physical capability. Its basic principle is to make things easier while being physically capable requires things to be physically demanding.

One of the main reasons the fitness industry exists is that people want or feel a need to workout. Is this the best way to address the situation? Is it applying the 80/20 rule?

Let's look at an example.

The simple act of sitting in a chair has consequences. A chair that supports you and allows you to slouch and relax. A chair that turns sitting from an active process into a passive one. This is something that most people spend a significant amount of time doing each day. There are consequences to this behavior.

What if instead of working out 3 times a week for an hour, you simply stopped sitting in this type of chair? If you sit in a chair like this for 6 hours a day on average, you will need to replace that 6 hours with something else. What might you choose? Stand, sit on the floor, sit on a stool, walk around? These are just a few options, but they all are more physically demanding than oozing into a comfortable chair.

Instead of 3 hours in the gym trying to offset 42 hours in the chair each week, you simply remove the 42 hours in the chair - cut the 20%. It will be replaced with a new and different 20% that will likely be much better for your physical capability. You aren't likely to get hurt doing it either, like often happens in those 3 hours at the gym. The 3 workout hours are part of the 80% of actions that only contributes to 20% of the results. That can't compete with the 20% of actions (sitting in a comfortable chair and other forms of inactivity) that are producing 80% of your results.

Look at your results critically and decide if they are the results you want. Are they even in the ballpark? If not, removing the 20% may be the answer.

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