We are 80% work

Yes indeed

I am 80% work and I do not know about you, but ever since I’ve first learned about the Pareto principle, I could see it immediately everywhere, as it is so easy and so straight forward to understand and apply. Sadly, this is the truth for many of us, we are using only 20% of our time on this earth for life and this is truly unbalanced, and not fair at all, yet we could master it, we must, for the sake of our sanity.

I am spending so much time outside of my real life, of who I am, outside of my control, that I can not believe it, now while writing it down among these lines. I am spending my life with people I am trying to collaborate with, and it is quite a challenge…I know now, better than before that I need to change the way I think and see the things around me.

But am I ready to do this? Can I be really interdependent?

Well I can say that at this point, not really. I am not really interdependent, I can understand the concept, and at times I can apply the theory formulated by Stephen R. Covey, but I am not really living it. I know it, and I’ve seen, that more than one means delivering more, and accomplishing more, but I am still individualising aspects of my profession and life.

I find myself from time to time thinking that I could be the only one which is appropriate to do all the tasks there are to be done, and it couldn’t be more wrong. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way, unfortuantely, and I started accessing the knowledge which I can find so easily around me, from the people with whom I am working. I’ve started delegating the responsibility to the ones which are way better than me at what I am trying to solve, and I am learning so much from them, becoming better than I was before, every single day. So I guess what I am saying is that we need to strive for interdependency, nothing more.

“Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make”
Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

I am 80% work, but what can, and should, do in order to change the balance, and here maybe Pareto is also giving us the answer, we know that 80% of the work is done in only 20% of the time spent, which indeed it is as right as it can be. We are ineffective creatures, by nature, see how we spend the resources, we are not productive enough, not even mentioning efficiency, because we do not live it, we do not understand it. We know that whatever task one has to accomplish, it will take the time that it requires and not more, definitely not less, the rest is just filling up the void, when it is the case, so that it matches the estimation.

So why defining yourself deadlines and fixed scopes? When you can choose what the outcome should be, and work towards it until your mission is completed. I do agree though with the fact that milestones should be put in place as to check whether or not you are really on the right track. For this reason, is why sometimes I do not understand the deadlines, and the sacrifices needed to be done in order to put something out there, which maybe won’t satisfy even the 20% of the expectations, but hey… we managed to deliver the tasks we had, in time, most probably not at all effective, not at all in budget, and on top of all with no validation of whether or not we are doing the right thing, or even if we were really the best person to deliver them.

We concentrate so much on task delivery, finishing task after task, that we fail to transform the biggest part of being a human, into life. We work and we do never take a step back to think it through. We usually bring work into our home, into our relations and interactions with people outside the office, and there is no value added from this. Lean Thinking is teaching us that whatever you do that does not bring added value, it is considered to be a waste and as such need to eliminate it, one way or another.


Because we need always to add more value to our lives, we must, in order to grow. So instead of concentrating on the deliverables, why not concentrate on what you really want to achieve, the real outcomes? We do not live, not until we make life out of our work, and this can be achieved by working with great persons, making your work a passion and accessing the knowledge from the people around you, by empowering the ones that are better than you are. I believe that only when we will succeed at doing these, we will be free, balanced and better. So drop the things that do not add any value to yourself, sometimes this is harder done than said, but with patience and perseverence you will make it.

How would I do it?

In reality I do not know of any recipe for becoming better at life, there is none, but I can only try to:

  • be always proactive
  • envision the end result before I even start the work
  • take the things as they are, and take them one at a time
  • change only what I can, but seek first to understand
  • laugh more, and even more at myself
  • communicate, when angry, in another language that I do not master (that is my wife’s strategy, for taking things with more calm than usual)

So here am I, with my nice list of things that should be changed in order to become what I envision for “my self” meaning.