So I’ve been working on remodeling my office… it’s taken a few months.
I started out with one room and then that became a second, third… yeah. So now it’s ½ of the house.
At first it was just having that old popcorn ceiling stuff removed and paint, but then I ripped out the old carpet, and then doors, and then baseboards… you get the idea.
I’m living in a house with painted walls, concrete floors, and no doors… but only ½ the house. Yeah, there’s a lesson/story/thingy in there somewhere.
But I digress.
So when it was time for the floors I really had to make a decision to do more than just one room, I had to do ½ the house. That meant all the rooms empty, all at the same time. And all the stuff went into the other ½ of the house.
I’m not much of a collector of things. I have an aversion to lots of stuff. But I have managed to fill those three rooms with stuff.
After the floor went down all the baseboards needed to be installed. My Dad came over and we installed one room: the office. But I still needed to caulk the base and paint it. And that had to happen before I could put furniture against the walls.
I decided to just start with what made the most sense. It is Pareto’s Law at work. Which 20% of the work will give me 80% of the benefits?
The spot where book shelves would go against the wall made the most sense. If I caulked and painted the baseboard in the closet and in the corner and wall where the bookshelves would go, I could put those pieces in place and begin taking all the stuff from the other half of the house and putting it back into its place.
Genius, I know.
My office would feel mostly done and it would be 80% done. The last 20% I could do a bit at a time, on those evenings where I was done with work and still had some energy. In short order the room would be done.
Making sense of what to do and when can be an overwhelming process for folks.
I could look at the room and assume that I needed to put one day aside, crawl around on the floor and get all the base caulked and painted.
That strategy would mean giving up most of a day. No work would get done as I’d be tired and likely frustrated.
Painting base isn’t my idea of bliss.
I’d be stiff from crawling around on the floor and would miss an opportunity to run, jog with the dogs, or bike.
I’d really lose an entire day.
And then there’s the food…
You accomplish something big and you deserve a big burger, a bowl of chips, a cupcake… or two…
Now, how soon do you think I’d get it done? At what point would I finally give in and say, “That’s it, today is the day!”
How about never.
Let’s face it, I’ve been living in chaos for weeks with just what I needed in my office to get work done.
And the thing is… I’m getting used to it.
I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. It just is.
All the clutter is compartmentalized in the den area, I have to look at it, but it’s not in my way.
And that’s why I didn’t use the get-it-all-done strategy.
Instead I decided I would Pareto the hellvetica out of it.
As I write, the base at the corner and wall is drying. The closet was done a few days ago.
I’m starting to move the shelves back into the closet and fill them.
When the paint is dry I will move the new bookcases in and fill them.
I might even find the book I needed right after I boxed all the books…
The room won’t be done but it will be 80% there. The other 20% will come.
What matters most is that in this moment I’m happy with the 80%. The 20% of effort rewarded me with far more happiness and contentment than the 100% ever would simply because it might not never come.
Sure, I’d love the entire house done. But I haven’t been happy with the trades I’ve hired.
I feel better and like the quality of the work better when I’ve done it myself. So it will take longer but I’ll love it more.
The truth is, while I haven’t faced death, I’ve faced the fear of not having enough time.
I may never finish the house, read all the books, see all the movies, ride all the miles, write all the words… and it will be okay, it will be perfect.
I’m not and never have been interested in focusing my time on building a legacy to leave behind.
Now, more than ever, I’m focused on finding contentment and balance in every single day.
I could go on from here and give you all kinds of reasons why the 80/20 rule is so powerful, tell you that nothing really needs to be 100% perfect, tell you that hard-steeled focus on building something at the expense of everything else around you could lead to unhappiness…
But I don’t really need to.
You know this already. And if you don’t then you will believe that balance is a fallacy.
I think I’ll go hit a trail while I wait for the paint to dry.