Get rid of 80 percent

Lists are very important in our busy lives, even after retirement.
My computer, for instance, is full of lists–lists of what I have to do and lists of what I have done.
Shopping lists for my husband who buys the groceries and shopping lists for me. A list of columns I have written this year. The “list” goes on.
But most important of all is my list of New Year’s resolutions.
For decades, I’ve laboriously figured out what I want to make happen each new year. And, fortunately, some of these resolutions have been kept.
Unfortunately, many appear year after year after year. One of those resolutions is “de-clutter my house.”
My only consolation is that I don’t seem to be the only person who has a clutter problem!
In her book “De-clutter FAST,” Mimi Tanner unequivocally states: “Most people have a clutter problem.” With our affluence, we buy too much and give too little away.
As for me, I make some progress every year. But as soon as one part of the house is tidy and organized, another part gets cluttered.
This year I’m going to complete the project! I’ve resolved to finish de-cluttering the entire house.
My goal is to use the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80-20 rule).
Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian sociologist, economist, and philosopher who lived in the late 1800s. One of Pareto’s observations was that 80 percent of Italy’s wealth was owned by 20 percent of the population. He then studied other countries and found that the richest 20 percent of the world’s population controlled 82.7 percent of the world’s income.
Thus the 80-20 rule in wealth distribution.
Then in 1941, management consultant Joseph Juran expanded Pareto’s work and applied the 80-20 rule more widely–80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your clients; 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your work.
There are a number of ways you can apply the 80-20 rule to de-cluttering your house. You get 80 percent of your enjoyment from 20 percent of your “stuff.” You wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time.
So why not get started today. If you have 15 minutes, de-clutter a drawer or organize an envelope of family photos. If you have an hour, start sorting your closet–assess which 20 percent of your clothes you wear regularly.
If you have a day, de-clutter a room. Do it quickly and cut corners, always remembering that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your work.
Savor the moment when you look at the tidy space you have cleared. Then resolve to never again put things there that don’t belong.
After all, as Tanner says, your home is “your oasis, your castle, your refuge.” It’s the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night.
What could possibly be better than coming home to a beautifully-ordered place—full of peace, comfort, and serenity—at the end of every day?
Write Marie Snider at