Defeating Busyness on the Road to Nowhere

Have you ever felt like a hamster on a wheel going nowhere, no matter how hard you run? I watch stacks of books to read grow, hours at work increase, and time to enjoy myself decrease. It’s pretty miserable.


Summer Streets 2011: Human Hamster Wheel


I remembered something Tim Ferriss said on a podcast once about conducting an 80/20 analysis. First, let me explain what 80/20 means. It’s the Pareto Principle where 20% of your actions result in 80% of the results. It’s the minimum effective dose. What does that look like in application?

Enter the 80/20 analysis.

Matt Bodnar has a post titled How To Perform An 80/20 Analysis. Check it out. I did it myself and these were the results.

  • Which 20% of my reading covers 80% of my knowledge?

The Bible, how-to books, broad books on just one big question. Because of that, I began to revisit books that I had learned a lot from before and always return to for reference. While reading new books is great, five new ones came in last month, but I need to get a really good understanding of the ones I use the most. A lot of them are on the Equipping the Saints page.

  • What 20% of my income do we need to live?

It’s obviously more than that. My books don’t fly off the shelf and I’m giving away the last one I wrote. However, our budget is set up where we can live off of less than 40 hours a week of my income.

I say that because the further you go up the ladder, the more time a company wants from you it seems. Or you have a lot of expenses so you need more than 40 hours. Because of that, I don’t plan on going much higher, takes away too much time at home. If push came to shove, I would be fine back on the floor. People matter more than a high salary and/or overtime.

  • What 20% of my time brings me 80% of my happiness?

Friends, home time, and working with my wife in ministries. The fact that she’s almost as involved as me is wonderful.

Find the 20, then focus on the 20. I plan on looking at this a bit deeper. As I typed this, I thought of the two greatest commandments. Summed up, love God and love people. Those two sum up the entirety of the moral law. Not a one of the 10 Commandments doesn’t fall under them. 80/20.

What’s yours?

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