Moving, Downsizing and the 80/20 Rule

Storage stuff

The 80/20 Rule – Ignore it at your peril!

We are in our final days before we leave on our RTW, and the pace has quickened. Each day produces a slow trickle of boxes and furniture to storage as we move everything we own one carload at a time.

Moving with the car instead of a truck helps in so many ways. Most importantly, it spreads the lifting and toting out over a few days instead of hours, and motivates us to sell things that we no longer need. For us, every move is an opportunity to downsize and purge.

Because we move this way I have come to realize that your daily life and the stuff you use follow the 80/20 Rule, which is also known as the Pareto Principle. Basically, this is an idea mostly used in business and mathematics which states that you achieve 80% of your results with 20% of your resources or effort. As an example, you get 80% of your business from 20% of your clients, and knowing this enables business owners to focus on the really important clients and not waste time on marginal accounts.

And how, you might ask does this apply to our move? Every day we each have to make a decision as to what is packed and what goes to storage. We each have our own priorities as to what is important enough to keep and use, versus what is packed and taken to storage. After about a week of this process, we realize that most of our of belongings are gone and it really hasn’t severely impacted our quality of life. When I think through this process I am convinced that each normal day of my life I use the same 20% of my things to do 80% of what I normally do.

This idea can be empowering when you decide to get rid of stuff (And do you know anyone who doesn’t want to get rid of some stuff?). Surely somewhere in that 80% is some barely useful stuff that can go. Try it for yourself. Think through a normal day and make a list of the things that you use daily versus rarely use. The picture that is posted with this is how our storage looked 10 years ago, before we discovered the 80/20 rule. That unit was 10‘ x 20’, and the unit we are moving into now is 10‘ x 10’. My brother-in-law Jim says that if we keep moving we will eventually look like Gandhi with a walking stick and diaper.

Happy Trails,

2 thoughts on “Moving, Downsizing and the 80/20 Rule

  1. My husband and I try to use the Pareto principle as well, and it has helped us downsize tremendously. We’ve lived in 5 different homes over the past two years, and moving definitely helps in that endeavor!

    • Thanks for the comment Kate, and for dropping by the blog. Like you, we’ve moved and traveled a lot. We lived out of a suitcase for 6 months, tent camped for 4 months, and I did a one month bike tour with only 4 small panniers. What we learned from all these things, is that on a day to day basis, exactly how little it takes to live a full life. It’s so incredibly liberating to have our “stuff” in prospective, and the longer I live, the more applications I find for Pareto. ~James

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