Friday, November 09, 2007

Pareto's Principle

I'm deciding on an image to use for a class on drawing animals in coloured pencil. I'm toying with using Tripod as the model and am just working out the final lesson plans now. I have a lot of it in place in various forms from other classes. I just need to pull it all together in 4 blocks to make up the sessions. Sometimes the curriculum development becomes trying and I'd rather just draw!

Years ago in a business management class at college we were taught about Pareto's Principle The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule and the law of the vital few) states that in many things, 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes.

Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist is credited with it. He observed that 80 percent of the land in Italy (and every country he subsequently studied) was owned by 20 percent of the population.

Over the years, he and many others observed this rule in action in different spheres. Some examples:

  1. Relationship: Twenty percent of the people you know (friends, colleagues, family) provide you with 80 percent of nurturing support and satisfaction.

  2. Business: Twenty percent of customers will account for 80 percent of profit.

  3. Productivity: Twenty percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your success.

  4. Gardening: Eighty percent of garden peas are produced by 20 percent of the peapods.
The value of the Pareto Principle is that it reminds you to focus on the 20 percent that matters. Of the things you do during your day, only 20 percent really matter. Those 20 percent produce 80 percent of your results. Identify and focus on those things. When the fire drills of the day begin to sap your time, remind yourself of the 20 percent you need to focus on. If something in the schedule has to slip, if something isn't going to get done, make sure it's not part of that 20 percent.

I've discovered in building the art side of my life that it seems to involve everything except art itself. There is marketing and promoting, planning, scheduling, developing curriculum, teaching, critiquing, framing, travelling, schmoozing, art shows and all the other things that take place for a piece of art to seem to appear out of the ether. I spend about 20% of my time devoted to the art of drawing or painting. I fit it in whenever I can as I know that my art production is the key that drives all the rest.
Pareto's Principle, the 80/20 Rule, should serve as a daily reminder to focus 80 percent of your time and energy on the 20 percent of you work that is really important. Don't just "work smart", work smart on the right things.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Wow, I never thought of it like that. I've known of it (not the author) as a rule in busness, but never thought of applying it to the other facets of life.
Thanks for the food for thought!