Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pareto Effect

Today I am paying lip service to what is called the Pareto effect or the 80/20 rule. This is an important rule that took me a few months to properly grasp. The gist of the 80/20 rule is that 20% of an input is responsible for 80% of the output. What Pareto noticed was that 20% of the people in Italy own 80% of the wealth. This was similar to all the countries at the time. Moreover, 80/20 is the minimum. The ratio ranges to 95/5 and even 99/1.

What's important is that the things you do have disproportionate results. Ceterus paribus, a hour of work can achieve more depending on what you are working on. Look for the important, high-yielding work and avoid monotonous drone work (or skim through it as quickly as possible). Ignore the minutiae and look for things that pull the most weight.

From my experience, this is much easier than said than done. I learned about about a year ago and have recently gotten the hang of it.

The biggest obstacle for me was dealing with that tiny voice that says, "what are you doing?! you won't be prepared if you don't do x,y,z." Once you take the leap though, it's all downhill from there. Just sit back, watch you're productivity skyrocket, and find something to do with your new found time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Find your yoda; find your guide

Today I've begun a quest. A quest towards financial freedom: I'm going to start an online business. Here's the thing, I have no idea where to start and it is honestly terrifying.

Here's what I did: I ate a cinnamon chip scone because it is a guilty pleasure and then I
brainstormed who I knew that might help. I ended up calling up a for a lack of a better word "mentor." It was this guy I met at a random seminar. Sounds sketchy and it was, but the fates decided that meet him and glad that I did. I haven't talked to him in about 6 months and out of the blue I give him a calls and sends me in several directions. We're meeting up next week to brainstorm and discuss the leads he suggested. Where would I be without him? Possibly on my 4th scone.

What I'm trying to say is that there is no such thing as a self-made man. It is always through circumstances and lucky breaks. This is not as difficult as you may think. You have to put yourself out then and keep your mind open. Remember, it's easier to learn than to invent. So seek out that guidance for whatever path you may desire. You'll never know who'll end up as your mentor.

Having a mentor is incredibly important. I can't emphasize this enough. It's like seeing from the ground versus seeing atop the shoulders of a 20 foot giant. This took me an incredibly long time to realize and I want you to gain from my ignorance. See keep your eyes and heart open and you just might find your yoda.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Parkinson's law

Isn't it weird how some days you're able to cram god's know how much work and other days you have difficulty driving to the store a few bits of groceries?

Enter Parkinson's law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Basically, the work and motivaton devoted to a certain project is related to the time you give it. If you give something really easy a long deadline, it's unlikely it'll happen anytime soon. On the other hand, if you give a large project a short leash, you'll be surprised at what can be done.

If given an uncomfortably short time for a project, you'll do just what's necessary to complete it with little to no drop in performance. If given a long time, you'll start dwelling on the minutiae.

The takeaway is to be okay with "good enough." You don't need to be perfect and it'll most likely have the same result as if it were. I've given this law a few go's and it hasn't let me down yet.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Being in the moment

For the past few days, my mind has been distracted: I can't concentrate and my thoughts keep running around in circles in my mind. With all the stresses and occurrences in our lives, it is easy to be jumping around, chasing any endless number of agendas.

The solution is both simply, yet difficult: be in the moment.

With our american society, we are groomed to be working forward, planning, thinking about tomorrow, moving from project to project. It can get a little overwhelming.

What's more is that this splintered mentality will distract you to the point where it adversely affects your work. Have you ever tried typing while having a conversation? It's terrible.

What I suggest is that we take the time to really be conscious of what we are doing at the present moment.

The action is simply, but it takes practice. As with all things, "being in the moment" gets easier as you continue with it.

For me, the easier way try it is through chores or routines. By doing some menial task, it gives your mind the ability to drift. The goal of this exercise is to stay in the moment. Focus on your breath, the motions, movement. Really immerse yourself in the action. Notice what's around you and what your body is doing. As you stay in the now, it gets easier and easier.

From there, you can move to larger project. For me, I noticed that my finished work would be of higher quality. Not only did I have better quality work, I felt more at ease and less pressured and stressed. The key is not scrambling for the next thing, yet also not sitting around or moving slowly. Move with the flow of your energy.

Quiet your mind. Focus on the present. See the results.