Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Progress Made: Sticking To It Till the End

I'm 90% through my sorting papers project which started about three weeks ago. The first week involved pulling out everything in the office, kitchen, dining room, and living room which didn't have a proper home or was otherwise disordered. Then I stacked everything by category. I've been sorting through categories, recycling a lot of paper and then finding homes for those papers I still need.

I'm down to just a few small sections now and am almost done. My house looks basically back to normal.

It would be easy to call it quits right now and call it a job well done, but I'm not going to do it. The whole point of this procedure was to improve things, not to bring them back to a status quo.

I think this is a temptation in many projects--to end when things are "good enough." We aim for higher but when the real work begins it can seem like finishing at 90% is a good deal. The pain that the last little bit of work brings often doesn't seem worth the effort. That's a huge mistake.

It is the last bit of effort which takes a project over the top--and pushes it into the really useful and extraordinary. I think we get too used to accepting the Pareto Principle and saying that 80% of the success comes from 20% of the effort and using this as an excuse to say that we don't need to put in the last bit of effort because we'll get diminishing returns.

That last 20% of effort is really where most of the success comes from. The Pareto principle is about making ourselves more efficient but it should not be an excuse, as it too often seems to be, to give up when 80% done. "Good enough" is not great.

I have too many unfinished/incomplete projects around my house to believe that 80% done will be satisfactory. That's why I will push to figure out that last bit of my current project. If I am right, it will make a big difference in how I see my home and how I use my papers.

Sticking to a project right through the end, now matter the time or difficulty, is the true sign of a person who will succeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be kind in your comments.