Chaos Theory & the 80/20 Principle

Having arrived at the ripe old age of 40 :), I’m taking a serious look at my life and how I might make the best of my earthly life in my remaining years. God has led me to several interesting books, all of which encourage you to focus your time on what is most effective and eliminate all the rest.

This is the 80/20 rule, which says that 20% of causes result in 80% of your results. It has been proven time and again and was originally proposed by the economist Vilfredo Pareto. It applies in all areas of your life and effectively says 20% of the things you are doing are causing 80% of your results, so eliminate the other 80% of causes/tasks/customers, etc. This results is huge time savings that you can then put toward accomplishing other goals be it: traveling the world, volunteering, homeschooling your kids, reading more books, praying, spending time in adoration, starting a nonprofit, write on your blog more (me!)…you get the idea.

In the book “The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More With Less,” by Richard Koch, he says many people have attempted to explain why this theory holds true. It was once thought that God and everything in the universe was very logical and linear: a+b=c, but this doesn’t jive with why the 80/20 principle works. At the end of the 20th century, scientists proposed “chaos theory.” Things are not so nice and tidy and easily traced to a singular cause in the universe it turns out, but somehow there is still an organizing “force”. He says:

“Yet chaos theory, despite its name, does not say that everything is a hopeless and incomprehensible mess. Rather, there is a self-organizing logic lurking behind the disorder, a predictable nonlinearity–something which economist Paul Krugman has called ‘spooky,’ ‘eerie’ and ‘terrifyingly exact.’ The logic is more difficult to describe than to detect and is not totally dissimilar to the recurrence of a theme in a piece of music. Certain characteristic patterns recur, but with infinite and unpredictable variety.”

I found that to be a fascinating paragraph, because doesn’t that just sum up God, the Almighty Father, perfectly? Of course, he can at once be singularly chaotic but utterly perfect. Everything may seem chaotic in the universe, yet it all works together perfectly just the way it should. The “force” behind it all? Sounds like God to me :).

If you’re interested in the 80/20 Principle and studying how to eliminate the most ineffective parts of your life to free up 80% of your time, here are the books I highly recommend (all should be available at your library if you don’t want to purchase):

I am already incorporating these principles into my life and in just one week, the results were amazing. This is life-changing stuff!