If you’ve ever painted a room or a house, you know it’s all about prep.
You will know that much of the work is in preparation.
The actual “work” only takes a fraction of the time.
This also applies to tests or projects at work.
This is The Pareto Principle in action. Which is also known with the 80-20 rule. 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
When painting a room scenario, the effort before you ever pick up a paintbrush is much more time consuming and important to the end result.
In a painting, a house scenario multiplies all of this by 20 or 30 to achieve masking, sanding, and touch-up on a much larger scale.
The best scenario in either of these cases is … YOU DO NOT do it halfway. You finish.
Which is another teaching and valuable lesson of the Pareto Principle.
Pareto and preparation
The literal interpretation of the Pareto Principle can be a little incoherent in preparation.
Where it appears, preparation can be discounted or skipped all together. That’s not how it works.
The easy way to combat this is to realize that the actual task is often the result of a lot of work to get the task done. That is, the 80% (aka preparation) is actually the work and the 20% is the task.
When it comes to painting a room, taking a test, or doing a project for work, some preparation is required. Whether the preparation takes the form of a YouTube video, a few hours of research or years of study.
Preparation is crucial.
Don’t discount the need for preparation. Don’t cut down on the need to spend 80% of your time preparing.
If you do this consistently, you will find that your results are better. You will find yourself getting noticed in your career. Other people will notice too. They will know they can rely on you because they know you will think ahead to ensure that long-term goals are met.
How can you think about improving the preparation processes?
The five ps
One way to think about preparation is to consider the 5Ps. In case you’ve never heard of the 5Ps … it’s a simple mnemonic. And in a sense, it might initially be viewed as a minor downer, as it might appear the first time you read it. But I take it as an optimistic mantra about the value of preparation and why it is important to consider the 5Ps before saying yes to anything.
The 5 Ps – Proper preparation prevents poor performance
Plan ahead. Which means to think ahead. Try to look around the corner. Use what you know. Ask questions.
As mentioned in this post, plan your time wisely.
Plan to quit and quit strong.
Precaution: Consider the entire project
If you use all of the time allotted to preparation and little time to complete your project, you are setting yourself up for a mistake.
Plan for the 80% and plan for the 20%.
Every situation is different and as you get better at certain tasks you will find that your time management gets better too.
Three tips for the success of the Pareto principle
Once you have mastered these three steps, you are well on your way to mastering the Pareto Principle. The next time you’re thinking about something, take the time to think the entire project through and have enough time to get started and finish strong.
I leave it to the reader as an exercise for those times when you’re asked to do something big without enough time. Tip: ask lots of questions in advance and start early.