Friday, September 14, 2012

The 80/20 Rule ... Which Side Are You On?

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It's pretty common and can apply to just about any scenario that involves people and getting work done. The 80/20 rule refers to 20% of the people doing 80% of the work. I've seen it action ... from volunteers at school, volunteers at church, and homeowners in my subdivision association (although there it might be more like 90/10).
So which percentage do you find yourself in? The bigger question would be 'why?'. Are you part of the 20% who are active and involved or are you in the 80% that sit by quietly waiting for someone else to pick up the slack? If you're in the 20% do you pitch in and participate because you enjoy what you're doing or do you do what you do because you're worried that no one else will do the task and then it won't get done OR if it does get done it won't be to your liking? The important thing to remember is that whatever you do you should be doing it not because you feel pressured or coerced or guilty, but because you enjoy the task and truly want to make a difference.
If you find yourself in the 80% then there must be a reason why. Surely there are seasons in every one's life when they have more time or more energy or more interest. Perhaps you were voted the #1 volunteer of the year when your kids were younger and in school. If that's the case then you've probably earned the right to take a break. BUT if you still enjoy volunteering, find another avenue that interests you now. Volunteer at your church answering the phones, read to someone at the local hospital, spend time with your grand kids, or rake the leaves for the older man that lives next door and can't bend down to do it because he uses a walker now. There are numerous ways to get involved and make a difference. However, if you're in good health and have spare time on your hands AND you're just sitting home looking for something to do then maybe it's time that you switched sides on the percentage ratio. Take a leap of faith and go out on that proverbial limb. Try getting involved. Everyone will benefit. If you're thinking that you're not needed because it APPEARS that all of the tasks are getting done fine without you ... then THINK AGAIN. There is always room for you and always a need for you.
My best advice though would be 'never volunteer someone else'. I had a funny thing happen this week while attending the high school band booster meeting. The friend I was sitting with asked a question about a fundraising possibility. During the discussion someone on the board suggested that perhaps since she was interested she could look into it for them. Immediately she told the recording secretary 'but I don't want to lead it.' The secretary asked for her name for the sake of the meeting minutes to which my friend (without missing a beat, I might add) assertively gave them my name. Obviously some people there knew me and some didn't, but we all got a good laugh because of her wittiness and her timing. Don't worry though, I immediately corrected the situation and spelled out Laura's name for them.
Just some things to think about before you make your next decision about whether or not to volunteer and get involved.


  1. I'm in the 80 group, because (1) working full-time and being a wife and mom takes up most of my time, (2) I'm not Type A, (3) I'm an introvert, so I cherish what little quiet time I have... and last but not least: (4) I don't want to become a member of the 20 group.

  2. Hi Carly. Thanks for reading the blog and for adding a comment. You're right. Everyone is different and has their own thoughts on the matter. You do have a lot on your plate and definately have your time and priorities where they should be. I hadn't thought about the Type A personality, guess there would be times I would fall into that category. Wish I could carve out a bit more 'quiet time', for me that's either when I'm in my flower garden or blogging.