Monday, 23 January 2017

Applying the 80/20 rule to my personal RAGE model

Last year I shared my RAGE model (Reality, Aspirations, Goals, Expectations) that could be applied to both personal and professional development (I also created a template that other people could download and use for their own use here). My aim was to make sense of my life-work balance (I used to call it the popular "work-life" balance, but later decided that life is actually more important than work, and now I use "life-work" balance instead. I'm not yet won over by the "integrated work-life" idea just yet although I see the point that you really can't separate out "work" as it's an essential part of your "life" - but I maintain the separation as it helps me categorise my personas better). 

I started by defining personas (basically activities like husband, father, professional, individual, friend, colleague, etc) where each persona reflected some facet of my life, that would consume time & energy. For each persona, defined related aspirations and goals for the year(s). As time is the most critical resource, I needed to understand:
  • What activities were consuming the most amount of time?
  • How did reality (of actual time consumed) compare against my wish-list of aspirations (desires, wishes, fancies)
  • Find a way of relating my time spent on activities relative to the value / happiness gained from such activities
I used Harvest for time-keeping, which I maintained with as best discipline as I could, and started tracking all my activities from the end of January 2016 till December 2016. Going into 2017, I will continue to track my time, making a few modifications going forward.

Last year, my reading centred around self-improvement - I also studied the works of Richard Koch on the 80/20 principle (after having read about it in Tim Ferriss' 4-Hour Work Week). The 80/20 principle was inspiring and relevant to my experiment in exploring my life's activities. Since I was collecting the data of time logging my activities, I would have enough data to use the 80/20 tool to gain additional insights: Which 20% activities consume 80% of my time? Which activities do I most enjoy compared to my actual time spent? What are the vital few activities that have the highest impact in my life? What activities or personas did I start out with are actually irrelevant and can be assigned to the trivial many?

In this post I will examine 2016 under this 80/20 lens and share my revisions for 2017 year ahead. The experiment continues ...

I often get asked why do I invest my time in this experiment? Why do I share this stuff on my blog?
I believe in this experiment - when I started this journey I felt I really needed to inspect my life and not live on auto-pilot, doing the same things day in, day out (which most people do) ad infinitum. I wanted to examine myself, explore my value system taking myself to task: Am I really living the life I had pictured in my head or am I just fooling myself? When I began this experiment, I had not even heard of Tim Ferris or Richard Koch for that matter, or the group called Quantified Self. Now, after studying these people, I know I'm not alone in this, that reaching a state of self-awareness is crucial to making sense of the world, and most importantly coming to terms with reality and finding peace with ones self. Personally I've learnt that it actually does help to write things down, create personal plans and logs with some goals that can be measured and tracked using journals, introspection and other self-reflection tools (it does not have to be a thing assigned to your job in the workplace). This experiment calls me to order: why am I complaining I don't have enough time to pursue my own goals and interests? Why am I blaming the world and passing excuses on to others (like family commitments) when the reason for not achieving my goals comes down to just plain laziness, distractions & lack of motivation? Did I bite off too much that I could chew, am I being over ambitious? Do I need to slow down and see reality for what it really is? How do I adjust myself, re-calibrate on the few essential things that make me happy?

I write about this stuff because blogging is a hobby. It might not get me anywhere, I do it for myself, and take the risk of sharing this stuff in the public domain because it just also might be relevant to someone else, who knows. I also use this medium as an outlet. A lot of my blogging in the past year has been on self-improvement & self-discovery, both personal and professional, which is a phase I currently find myself in...the feedback I've got from both colleagues and friends have nevertheless been encouraging and thus further motivates me...I've shared the RAGE model with a few people, it strikes very interesting conversations indeed. Some people have even suggested I teach this stuff!

Inspirational Quotes

"Finding out what you love to do is a great feat in and of itself"  Derek Dolin

“There is no satisfaction that can compare with looking back across the years and finding you’ve grown in self-control, judgement, generosity, and unselfishness.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” – Aldous Huxley

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” – Benjamin Franklin

“It is not only the most difficult thing to know oneself, but the most inconvenient one, too.” – H.W. Shaw

“The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali

For more quotes on self-discovery, click here.

2016 under 80/20 lens

Richard Koch's 80/20 Principle is a book that everyone should read. I'm not going to rehash the 80/20 principle, except state in the general terms of the greatest output / reward (80%) is achieved through 20% of the input (vital few), the law of non linearity and unbalanced systems; that 80% of success results from 20% of input.