Sunday, 29 August 2010

Pareto in the Attic.




There has been a lot of interest and a certain amount of disbelief about the keyboards in my attic. I do not exaggerate; well, not all the time, and for those of you who urged reduction of the collection, here's an recent photograph.
My musical son came home for a day and a night.
The charity shops did well, as did a local school running an after-school music club. Now there is this modest collection, plus one or two others lurking in a spare bedroom. I haven't really counted.

'The Pareto Principle' fits well. Eighty percent of the stuff in the attic was owned by twenty percent of the people living in the house at the time the collection was amassed.
Now something like eighty percent has been assessed as superfluous, twenty percent remains. As there is now only one person living in this house there remains eighty percent of other peoples' belongings filling twenty percent of the attic.
There is a lot more room in the attic, even with the eighty percent.

Pareto did some interesting work. Eighty percent of effects come from twenty percent of the causes. Twenty percent of pea-pods contain eighty percent of the peas. People wear twenty percent of their clothes eighty percent of the time, eighty percent of our phone calls are made to twenty percent of our friends. Which indicates that we get more of a buzz out of dealing with our enthusiams, and focusing on those activities which give us the best outcomes, which, in turn, is hardly suprising.
When we get it right we get eighty percent of our happiness and satisfaction from twenty percent of our activities. That includes being able to see a bit of floor space in the attic. Deeply satisfying, as was my time with my son. Very satisfying to do something together, even as mundane as visiting the local rubbish tip.
Perhaps in retirement we could boost that a bit and get a ninety/ten result, except that it is impossible to measure happiness as a percentage of anything.

But the most profound aspect of Pareto's work tells us that eighty percent of the world's wealth and resources are controlled by twenty percent of the population. If that.

P.S. For those of you keen on circuit bending - here's my son

4 comments:

Zhoen said...

Half of the people in this home play all the musical instruments.

Glad the charities and music club got a boost.

pohanginapete said...

I'm slowly attempting to declutter. When I manage to get to the stage where eighty percent of my stuff I use at least twenty percent of the time, I'll consider it a job well started. (Actually, make that twenty percent of my stuff used at least twenty percent of the time.)

I think it's one of the things I love about travelling (overseas, where I can't store stuff in my car) — everything has to be essential; nothing can be an indulgence. The freedom's wonderful.

J. said...

That's an interesting fact for a 5:30am start! I wear 20% of my clothes because 80% don't fit anymore and the 20% that do seem to be getting too big these days
I've read 20% of my books because I onlt have 20% of my time free for reading
And now I have 20% of my pets left to love
Crumbs, this is spooky

Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen: well, Pareto's theory doesn't apply all the time, but it's interesting how often it does. I bet it applies to Moby's lifestyle?

PPete: but doesn't eighty percent of your travel essentials equate to twenty percent of your body-weight?

Julie: 5.30 a.m. is too early for this sort of thing. I hope the rest of your day is better!