Don't Forget the Other 20 Hours

Prep, Spec, and Polish...

This morning I drank my usual hybrid blend of green tea and coffee.

(Both offer unique benefits so curious to see how they mingle together with my biochemistry)

I like this batch more than previous ones as I work on my deck listening to a podcast about water. It’s not too acidic by any means and surprisingly smooth.

The lesson? Allocate a little extra time in the morning and learn how to prepare something you do every single day with a little more care and passion.

My interest in brewing methods started when I drank coffee at a friend's house. He just sloppily scooped a mound of grounds into his 'Mr. Coffee' maker without taking into account a reasonable water-to-coffee ratio.

The worst part was he didn't care to learn or try something different. Yet he was so close to enjoying a 10x better cup of coffee every morning if he simply tweaked one tiny thing (more or less water) in his daily return.

Imagine how this applies to other areas of your life?

What things do you do mindlessly... that if you slightly tweaked something small... would skyrocket your results?

Focusing on little things is on my mind a lot these days. Mainly because of the popularity of the 80/20 Rule/Pareto Principle. You see it everywhere.

Here's the basic idea if you're not familiar with it: 

20% of effort is responsible for 80% of output…

20% of employees bring in 80% of profit…

20% of clients account for 80% of your sales…

You get the idea. 

Made famous by Vilfredo Pareto back in the 1800s, it's taken productivity books and blogs by storm in recent years.

Some of you might actually be tired of the headlines and book titles blasting you with quick fix/simple trick 'Calls to Action' that promise you exponential returns and profit with minimal effort.

Here's a quick screenshot of the first page at Amazon if you search 80/2o. It goes on for pages with book titles ranging from 80/20 Jazz Guitar all the way to 80/20 Diets, Dating, Investing, Wholesaling, Lead Generation, and Sleep. 

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Now, don't get me wrong. There's a lot of merit to the 20% everyone emphasizes whenever they talk about Vilfredo and his 80/20 Principle. But many are missing out (or discounting) the power of 80% thinking. 

So let’s look at the less ‘sexier’ and ‘exciting’ side of this distribution for a change.

The 80%.

80% of our time and effort often isn’t invested in the actual ‘work.’ Instead, it’s focused on  the ‘prep,’ ‘spec,’ and ‘polish’...

...getting set-up (concerts, shows, etc)

...debugging code (software development)

...chopping your ingredients (cooking)

My teammate from college illustrated this point well during his senior speech to the team. He asked us to add up the actual 'game minutes' we play in our college career and compare it to how much time we spend preparing our bodies and minds for them. 

15 minute quarters (x4) = 60 minutes (or an hour)

12 games in a season = 12 hours

4 years = 2 Days

Compare that to the 5,000+ hours of preparation that includes summer workouts, two-a-days before the season, practice, film sessions, workouts during the season, winter workouts, and spring practice.

(It’s significantly more than 10,000 hours if you include everything you do as a kid trying to achieve your dream of playing major college football)  

In software, a developer may take a few hours to write one piece (sometimes a line) of code then days or weeks to spec, review, and test it before it’s ready the public.

Some restaurants open at 7 or 8 AM to start cleaning, chopping, mincing, simmering, and preparing everything we eventually see on the plate itself.

And yet...

We often fail to realize which part is important and worth our time.  But that’s the point of the whole exercise if we want something of high quality.

(Why bother if it’s not?)

It turns out that the parts we think are beneath us or don’t value, the 80/90%, are the ones that matter the most.

Avalanche is just another name for a bunch of tiny snowflakes.

Yes, it can lead to wholesale destruction. But it's the incessant (but much smaller) daily snowflakes accumulating on a mountainside that moves skiers downhill.

Legendary athletes, celebrities, and companies don’t achieve their success all at once or by chance alone.

And neither will you.

We can still spend time focusing on our 'avalanche' that will disrupt whatever it is we aspire to when we focus our mind and energy towards a goal. But it's the drip, drip, drip that changes everything in the long-run. 

Small strokes fell large oaks...

When in doubt, focus less effort and time on the thing most people ‘do’ and ‘talk about. Spend more time on the prep, spec, and polish.

The stuff that actually matters.

Adam Kadela