The 20/80 phenom: Get rid of the 20% that causes 80% of your problems

I'd never really thought about it, but when you really put things down on a list that cause you stress, at least in my case, I have found that there are about 20 percent of the things in my life that have been causing about 80 percent of the stress.  It's a disproportional relationship, and truth to tell, that number probably had gotten higher than 20 percent.  Maybe as high as 35 percent.  4 hour work week

At this writing, I'm on a course to cut that 35 or so percent way down, if not out completely.  Sure, there will be other things that have the potential to come along and jump back in there, but I think finally, at 44 years of age, I've come to recognize what those things are.

If you've never picked up Tim Ferriss' book, The Four-Hour Workweek, I strongly suggest you make your way to a bookstore today and do so.  Set up a list of the top two life priorities you have for today.  These are important tasks that if you don't do them, you will not have done something to advance the progress of your life today.  For today, make going and getting this book one of those two top priorities. The other part of that is start reading the book. 

I'm half way through right now and I can see all kinds of ways I can make my life better.  And already I can feel the weight of the stress I've been enduring lifting.  It's not all gone, but I'm making a plan.  (Remember the blog post from a couple of days ago when I said I was formulating three-month and six-month plans?)  And just having this plan, whether it's over the top or not, is giving me a new lease on life. It's giving me optimism and something to shoot for.  It includes things that will make me happier in life.  It includes things that will pare away that 20 percent that's causing me 80 percent of the grief in my life. 

Please.   Stop reading this now.  Go get dressed.  Leave the house.  Leave work at lunch.  Go to your bookstore.  Buy this book.  Come back to some where quiet.  Sit down. Open the book.  Start reading.  Start thinking about what's causing you 80 percent of your stress, grief, discomfort, frustration, boredom, you name it.  If it's not good, write it down.  If it's good, write that down, too.  Then start thinking about what you can do to put those 20 or so percent of things aside.   And keep reading the book because it gets even more helpful the longer you read. 

Okay, here's your top things list for today:

1.  Go get The Four-Hour Workweek and start reading it.

2. Something else that will make a profound impact on your life.



Essential work projects that bring in income

Reduce, eliminate my distractions

Find what routines I can eliminate, reduce or get someone else to do

On my list, I've begun including the dotted line above and putting everything else I want to get done in a day below that.  These are still important activities, but they're not the top two things that if I don't do them today, it will not have been a day where I made some essential progress.

I really enjoy these sorts of books.  The other important one to pick up is Gary Vaynerchuk's Crush It! and the next one I've got and I'm going to read is Bob Burg and John David Mann's Go-Givers Sell More, their follow up to The Go-Giver.

This is an image of the tree line from the new County Road 510 Bridge near Marquette, Michigan.


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Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander, a selfie from camping for 13 weeks in 2022 on the Claxton family land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northwest of Marquette.

Donald J. Claxton is
‘The Timberlander’

Hello, I’m Donald J. 

I refer to myself as “The Timberlander” because I love off-grid living and woodworking.

My Great Pyrenees, Maycee, and I enjoy spending our time in the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

In the UP, I craft, make, grow, run, carve, and generate:

  • Custom crosses
  • Timber frame shelters
  • A garden
  • My water
  • Basswood figurines and ornaments
  • My own power

Check out my crafts for sale in The Timberlander’s Treasures.

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