The 80 20 Experiment – wrap up

By · August 11, 2010 · Comments (0)

Today winds up the one-week experiment in focusing on the 20% of my work that is most likely to provide the greatest value. I did achieve the three tasks I set yesterday:

* Another sample column on creativity

* Another submission package for my novel

* Finish the rest of the sales pages for my November Las Vegas writing workshops

However, I’m writing this at 3.30am, so I can’t pretend I did it on the schedule I’d planned…

The lessons I take away from this week:

I have more unfinished projects than I realized, so that’s definitely a pattern to address;

As the statistics suggest, everything takes about twice as along as you think it will;

Something always comes up that you didn’t anticipate and sometimes these happen in clusters;

This experiment is definitely worth staying with for longer.

I won’t write it up daily, but I’ll carry on and perhaps give you an update in 30 days, by which time there could be some tangible payoffs from addressing that 20% more consistently.

I had an email from Nick saying he was able to do further the progress on his blog and he also a plan he has for testing an affiliate marketing arrangement. My anonymous weight loss person reports she’s lost two pounds already–well done!  My WordPress-learning correspondent has finished watching the video tutorials, found a template he likes, and is installing it tomorrow. Congratulations, all!

If you have any feedback on your experiences, feel free to share them in the comments or email to me at

I hope this exercise has been useful for you–of course you can repeat it anytime!

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(This is a one-week experiment in using the 80 20 principle–to find out what it’s all about or to join in, just go back to the post for August 2 and then scroll forward to all the posts with big numbers in them).

The video is done! By now it may sound like it should be some kind of Academy Award Winning production, when in fact it’s just a three minute talk about creating great characters rather than stereotypes, but I was using an editing system I had to learn.

I did also write a sample creativity column.

The other task was to do more research for the report I’m writing on crowdfunding (that’s where people pledge a certain amount toward your creative project before you actually do it). And that’s where I learned today’s lesson:

It doesn’t have to be perfect!

My natural impulse when I write a book or report is to want it to be as comprehensive as possible. I’d put out a Google Alert on crowd funding and have been surprised by how much new material there is about it on the internet–enough to keep me researching for another couple of weeks.

But when I thought about it today, I realized that what people want from e-reports and e-books is the most important facts–especially information they can act on now. They don’t want a 300 page ebook with every possible permutation of the subject.

So I’m calling a halt to the research and getting on with completing the report.

Sometimes stretching the research phase is a way to avoid actually writing, of course, but I don’t think that’s the case in this instance. In this case it was more about perfectionism, which is an equally dangerous project-killer!

Maybe you can relate to this. Is there a project that you’ve either avoided starting because you feared you couldn’t do it perfectly? Or one in which you’ve stuck too long to one phase of it, trying to get that perfect before moving on?

If so, repeat after me: “It aint’ gotta be perfect!”

Thanks to the folks have have mailed me about their next steps: Robin is doing an outline, Nick is continuing work on his site/blog, my anonymous wight-loss correspondent has been replacing some of her high-carbohydrate food with low-carb, high-protein meals.

For tomorrow my tasks are:

* Finish the rest of the sales pages for my November Las Vegas workshops, then we will be able to start enrolling people

* Submit my novel to one additional publisher (one of the two to whom I submitted the proposal earlier in this experiment emailed to say they no longer publish fiction–which wasn’t mentioned on their web site)

* Write a second sample creativity column

If you’re participating, let me know how you’re doing and anything you’re learning from the experience.

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(To find out what this is about scroll back to the post for Aug. 2 and then read forward the posts with big numbers on them. You can join in at any time!)

There’s a statistic going around in the productivity arena that everything takes 4 times as long as you think it will. I’m not sure that’s an accurate figure but it wouldn’t surprise me too much. (Another figure–and I’m making this one up but I bet it’s true–is that it would take you twice as long to do something as you think it should take someone else to do it.)

I say that because today I did achieve the review of additional crowd sourcing material and do a mailing to my list (I made it about the 80/20 principle).

However, the video I set out to do still isn’t done. I did make good progress but didn’t complete it, partly because i”m still learning how to use iMovie9, partly because like most people I’m too optimistic about how quickly I can get things done.

Probably a good rule of thumb from now on will be to double the estimate; then, if it takes less time, it will feel like I’m being extra productive!

Geraldine joined the experiment today–her focus is on weight loss. She’s made good progress in the past but has kind of stalled. Now she’s going to use the 80 20 rule to gain new momentum.

If that’s an issue you might like to tackle, I can tell you that the top 20% of your possible actions will come from changes in your diet (much more influential than changes in exercise, although of course getting exercise has many additional mental and physical health benefits). One of my friends discovered that simply cutting out eating chocolate biscuits every night was enough to make a big difference.

Tomorrow is Sunday so I’m going to take the day off and feel free to wallow in any old 80% activities I want to (or no activity at all).

These will be my 20% tasks for the following day:

* Finish the video!

* Complete additional research for crowd funding report

* Write one sample creativity column for possible syndication (this is under the category of putting more effort into what is already successful, as I think a syndicated creativity column would help further the already pretty good sales of my “Creativity Now!” book).

How about you? If you’re joining in, feel free to comment or–the method people have preferred so far–email me at

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