80/20: Learn it, Love it, Use it

Posted: January 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

As poor graduate school students, my roommates and I decided upon moving into our house on Long Island that we would do the incredible. The unthinkable. The absolutely insane. We decided to NOT purchase cable tv!!! I could only imagine doing this 15 years ago, my world would have ended.

thank you, I will

Anyway, this decision has led me to a whole new world of which I actually enjoy. It’s called books. I know, I know, how could I even say something like that?!?!? Admittedly, I still do drive home on weekends in order to watch football. (Go Jets!! O wait, they are probably watching at home on the couch just like me.)

Most recently, I have been reading Tim Ferriss’s book called The 4-Hour Work Week. This is not my first experience with Tim Ferriss as I have also read The 4-Hour Body  and The Blog of Tim Ferriss. Instead of giving you an in-depth analysis of all he does and writes about let me just say this: Tim basically takes things that are common, turns them upside down, beats the crap out of them, and then gives you his take on it. These topics include fat loss, time management, and even medical testing. I think most importantly, Mr. Ferriss walks the walk. Everything that he talks about, he has done in his own life. This kids, is what we call street cred.

Yup, I got it

Finally, what I respect about Tim is that he doesn’t want or expect you to do/agree with everything he does. He simply tells you what he has done and asks you to pick one thing that resonates and apply it to your life.

One of the themes that  I wanted to expand upon today (and hence the title of this post) is the 80/20 rule. I had recently read this in Tim’s book but it is not the first time I heard it. I go by a general rule of thumb: If I hear the same concept from a bunch of really smart people, then it must be true, and so the 80/20 rule fits this category.

Before I actually explain what the 80/20 rule is, I wanted to point out that it can be applied to just about anything. I think as I develop my blog, the topics may seem strictly medical/health/student/chiropractic related but I hope that the general concepts can be applied to everyday life.

The 80/20 rule as Tim writes (also known as Pareto’s Law, if you get this right on Jeopardy please make my check out to “cash” ) in its simplest terms: 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs.

Some real life examples (I will use 4  to keep with Tim’s theme)…

1) Think about your life as it stands right now. Specifically, think about the things/people who cause you the most stress. I can bet that 80% of your stress is caused by 20% of the people in your life. Of close relationships, this may only be 2 or 3 people you are close to. It may be time to either cut them out of your life or have a tough conversation with them. You may have to say, “I can not be around all the negativity anymore, so if we are going to continue our relationship I need it to be positive in my life.”

2) For my friends out there that are students… Think about how many hours you spend studying for tests/boards. Now, imagine how much of that “study” time is spend texting/facebooking/playing with your iPhone/checking your email/playing video poker/playing words with friends. If all of that was cut out, you would probably be left with about 20% of your time that is actually spent learning the material that will yield at least 80% of your knowledge.

3) A place where I first learned about the 80/20 rule is the business world. Specifically to chiropractic, I have read that 80% of our business income comes from 20% of our patients. The article was written by Dr. Anthony Lombardi a Canadian chiropractor and can be found here. If you didn’t want to click the link just read on —> Basically, the message is to spend time cultivating relationships with the 20% of patients that will bring most of your business through their own care or referrals. Think about those blanket emails that we often receive from doctors or companies of whom we are now on their mailing list. It is suggested that rather than sending one huge blanket email about who-knows-what (usually something interesting enough to warrant a quick delete) to your entire mailing list, select that most valuable 20%  and write them each individual emails. Not only does this show that you actually care, but when is the last time you received a personal email from a doctor of yours just asking how you are doing?? I would assume the answer is somewhere between Never and Are you crazy?!!?

4) The final example is specific to manual therapy but I think future practitioners, current practitioners, and patients can certainly learn something from this. One of my main goals as a future practitioner is to be good enough to know exactly what my patient needs in their care. This will not only save time but increase results. From my experience so far as an intern, I have learned that many patients perceive the value of care strictly by the amount of time spent. Often, their idea of quality is strictly quantity. They like the “kitchen sink approach” where we use every laser, stim machine, hot pack, cold pack, and manual tool in the clinic and just hope that something makes them feel better all while increasing their treatment time. Using the 80/20 rule would shift this thought process. Taking the time to assess the patient to find out exactly what is going on and then to apply the one or two treatment modalities along with the one or two most valuable corrective exercises may cut the visit time by more than half. However, we have now established the most valuable 20% of the treatment which will yield at least 80% of the results. Rather than worrying about the pebbles (small) dysfunction, Dr. Brett Winchester calls it “finding the rock (big) of dysfunction.”  Say it with me, the most valuable 20% of the treatment will yield 80% of the results.

So, as you can see this 80/20 rule really does apply to all aspects of life. I have had some really good comments and feedback from some other posts and would certainly like to hear from you all on this. Let me know how the 80/20 rule applies to your life and what you can do to make it work for you.

I look forward to hearing from you!


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