Adopting the 80/20 principle in .NET

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When Kate worked in corporate advertising, she knew the rule that roughly 20 per cent of her advertising spending produced 80 per cent of the results in any campaign. The problem was always to know which 20 per cent was really working. Fortunately, there are some less fickle areas of life where the data is clearer to gather and interpret, and we examine those areas in the next sections.
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9: Moving beyond Perfection
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Pareto s law, or the 80/20 principle, is named after the 19th-century economist Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered that 80 per cent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 per cent of the population. He also, allegedly, noticed in his garden that 80 per cent of the peas he harvested came from 20 per cent of the pea pods. Over the years, the same generalised principle has been applied to interesting effect in many other areas beyond land ownership and gardening. Most importantly for you, it suggests that 80 per cent of your results come from 20 per cent of your effort, and, in turn, it takes the 80 per cent of your remaining resources to shift that extra 20 per cent from 80 per cent to 100 per cent. All of that is good evidence of the real cost of perfection. To squeeze out that extra 20 per cent is going to cost you four times the effort. Some things are worth that effort and some are not. The 80/20 rule is a rough approximation to what happens in reality, but here are some examples of where you might spot Pareto s law in action: Twenty per cent of your cleaning effort gets 80 per cent of your home sparkling. Twenty per cent of your customers bring in 80 per cent of the sales. Twenty per cent of the people in your office create 80 per cent of the results. Eighty per cent of your progress comes from 20 per cent of the activities on your to-do list. Twenty per cent of your clothes are worn 80 per cent of the time. Twenty per cent of the meeting time results in 80 per cent of the decisions.
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Recently, a friend was studying for a qualification that involved writing clinical essays. Writing is not her favourite pastime and she became increasing anxious about this piece of work until she decided she could take pressure off herself. I m working on an 80 per cent essay one that will be good enough to get me the marks I need and still have time for the family and me. It was an eminently sensible application of the 80/20 principle to do her best in the time she had, and then to stop rather than trying to extract the extra marks and suffer unduly in the process.
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Part III: Building Your Confident Self
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We believe that busyness is one of the biggest challenges that ordinary folks face. By aiming to do 100 per cent all the time, you dramatically lose energy and focus. If you were to apply the 80/20 rule, you could cut out 80 per cent of your activities and increase your leisure time dramatically. Identify an area where you are struggling to achieve 100 per cent perfection. Decide on an 80 per cent result that is acceptable to you. Now allocate 20 per cent of your time to focusing on purposefully achieving this result.
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We hope that you have the point that perfectionism and procrastination are both ultimately time wasters in most circumstances. They take vast amounts of your energy. Naturally, you want to be your best, and circumstances exist where you are competing to excel and want to give it your 100 per cent. The point is to get real as well as having a vision. Most successful people recognise the benefit of keeping things simple, as in the famous acronym KISS Keep it Simple, Stupid. The harder and more complex you make things for yourself, the more you are likely to make a mess when it s too tough, and lose your confidence in your ability to succeed.
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