Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pareto's Law of Maldistribution

You know what this is. You've just heard it by another name: the 80/20 rule. It's the law of distribution that has 80% of the work done by 20% of the workers. Microsoft found that if they solved the top 20% of the most reported software bugs, 80% of the errors and crashes would stop. In health care in the US, 20% of patients have been found to use 80% of health care resources. And criminology studies have found 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals.

The law was named for Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. He developed the law after observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden held 80% of the peas.

But I'm not going to blog about workers or customers or criminals or peas. I'm going to blog about...


I've been doing some spring cleaning. You'd think I wouldn't have much to clean since I've only been in this apartment for about 2 1/2 years (has it been THAT long???). But I'm amazed at the stack of stuff in my front bedroom that's ready for the church yard sale.

I caught part of an episode of Nate Berkus a while back and scribbled "clutter 80/20 rule" on a piece of paper and just recently found it on my desk in the pile of stuff I cleaned off. When I Googled it I found a blog post about Peter Walsh, clutter guru, and his appearance on Nate's show. I'll quote a couple of very insightful things from the post.

Without looking around, could you find the following?

Car keys
Unpaid bills
Insurance policies

A. I know exactly where everything is 71%

B. Not sure where some important things are 26%

C. I need an hour to find important things 3%

That's encouraging! This was a group who was on top of things.

Could you have a party without cleaning up first?

A. My house is always party-ready 22%

B. I need to clean up first 67%

C. I can’t ever throw a party in my house 11%

Well, they were only on top of their car keys.

Peter said, “If you de-clutter your house, it will save you 40% of the time you currently spend cleaning.”

40%? Wow!

Do all of your clothes fit easily and well in your closet?

A. Clothes are hung in perfect order by color and season 39%

B. I have no idea what’s on the top shelf in my closet 42%

C. My clothes fall on my head when I open my closet 19%

Obviously they don't keep their car keys on the top closet shelf. ~snicker~

Here's what Peter had to offer about clothes:

You wear 20% of your clothes, 80% of the time. To prove that to yourself, when you go home today, turn everything back to front. Turn it back after you wear it. At the end of the month, get rid of everything you haven’t turned and worn.

Put your winter clothes in bins under the bed or top of the closet.

Wow again! Of course, that doesn't include the winter coat you only wore a few times this winter because it was the warmest winter on record. Or the formal you bought for RWA conference and have no other place to wear. But the everyday clothes? It's a radical concept and I'm going to try the hanger-turning thing and see the results. I can't promise I'll toss things I haven't worn.

And some of Peter's other tips for controlling clutter?

~ Keep flat surfaces clear. That means tables, counters, desks. And to do that he suggests you

~ Maximize vertical space. Put up bulletin boards, magnetic boards, hang bins on the wall, put up hooks for purses, backpacks, coats.

~ Create a message center for your home. This is where you control the business of your home. It's a place for mail, charging phones, posting your schedule. It ties in with the vertical thing too.

~ Go digital. He suggested using any sort of online capability to eliminate paper like online bill paying, online schedules and digital photo sites. I have very few paper photos these days. I have one entire external hard drive devoted to nothing but photos. I need to de-clutter that too because I have a lot of duplicates.

I love this quote from Peter: Letting go of stuff you don’t need or use lifts the weight off your life & lets your life soar!

I don't know about you, but I like to soar. And I definitely don't want to get to the point of this:

Have you done your spring cleaning yet? Got any good de-cluttering tips?


Cheryl C. said...

Yes, I have been doing spring cleaning, slowly. Ick! My closet is in order and I do feel better. I follow most of the things you cited and it does help. The one thing I also do is when I pick up the mail I sort it immediately (something I didn't do before). It keeps the mail off the kitchen counter and where it should be (mostly in the trash). Great advice PM!

Maven Linda said...

OMG. If I limited it to spring, my house would disappear under the clutter within the year.

That's a good idea about the hangers . . . except for my conference clothes. I'm not getting rid of them because I haven't worn them within the last month. I wear them at conference, which is once a year. Then there are my funeral clothes. And my wedding clothes. There are specialty items that are exempt from spring cleaning.

But I'm way, way better about getting rid of papers before they take over. And as for purses and shoes, well, y'all know where they go :-).

Angel said...

Oh dear. Talk about daunting - and right when my house is drowning in clothes that need sorting and given away, raffle basket stuff, and goody bag donations. I'm seriously considering making the summer "redo the house" season. I won't want to go outside anyway. :)

Carol said...

I have been using the "turned hangers" for the past couple of years, but I leave them for a year so it covers all seasons rather than getting rid of them after 1 month. I give items one last chance with "does this fit right now and does this make me feel good" I've stopped keeping things that just have a good memory associated with them if I don't look or feel good wearing it.