You may have heard of the Pareto Principle in economics, an observation that states that the majority of results (80%) comes from a minority of inputs (20%). BetterExplained.com says “most things in life (effort, reward, output) are not distributed evenly – some contribute more than others.” The 80/20 numbers are not factual, quantifiable numbers. The Pareto Principle is more of an observation than a rule.
In the organizing industry, we professional organizers tend to see a lot of the Pareto Principle in action with our clients. Specifically, we typically see:
- 80% of clothing in a closet gets worn 20% of the time. That means we tend to wear the same old favorites over and over!
- 20% of our files in our filing cabinet get looked at or used 80% of the time. Most of the stuff we file away never sees the light of day again.
- 20% of the kids’ toys get played with 80% of the time.
- 80% of the cleaners under our kitchen sink get used 20% of the time. The 20% in my house are the liquid dish soap, Lysol and Windex.
- 80% of the stuff in our garages gets used only 20% of the time.
So the next time you look at your crowded closet, garage, or room, ask yourself if maybe the Pareto Principle applies. Maybe most of the stuff in your room just isn’t getting used all that often. If so, perhaps you can feel safe letting go of a lot more things than you thought you could, leaving plenty of room for the 20 percent of things you access most frequently.
Do you see the Pareto Principle at work in your home? Where do you see it?
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