Sometimes “enough” means “too much”.

The Pareto Principle is a decision making tool used in industry. Also known as the 80–20 rule, it came out of observations made by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. He made other observations where this rule of thumb applied, roughly but consistently enough.

I used this simple tool frequently during analyses of data on causes for scrap when I worked at the factory that made industrial and hydraulic hoses.

To look at the numbers without some organization was confusing because of the number of possible scrap causes in the product made where I worked. If one wanted to reduce scrap by working on causes, then one needed to grasp where the most value gained for time, resources, and people used would be. The Pareto Principle quickly organized data into a format that did just that.

I mention this little tool because I find I need to review the blogs I follow in some meaningful way and to help me cull those that aren’t for me.

In the meantime, I worked up an example of how applying the Pareto Principle helps point you in the right direction. It is just an example, I note, and the “causes” are just made up, as are the data.

Chaos at the start; clarity at the end.

Chaos at the start; clarity at the end.

I highlighted the major “causes” (“the significant few”) with red boldface so you can see how data accumulated randomly might appear in part A., can gain a little clarity by calculating percentages of the total in part B., but become strikingly obvious in Pareto order (largest to smallest) in part C. The last column, with the accumulated percentage, by “cause”, shows how data needn’t be a 80-20 split to be useful, just approximately 80-20 for the underlying principle to hold true: You get the biggest bang for your buck by working on reducing or eliminating the items marked in red boldface even though they just approximate the mythical 80%.

Why am I putting you through this little tutorial on use of a simple statistical tool? It’s the way I think about problems, even after over four and a half years of retirement. My example lists some of what one might regard as potential problems worthy of a look.

If I made a Pareto analysis of what I don’t like enough about blogs to cause me to unfollow them, it might look something like the fictional part C. table above. Or it might include causes that demand immediate attention and a lot less of this navel gazing. For example, some blogs take up a lot of time to follow.

Here’s a real life example of the time issue. One blogger’s new posts and new comments notifications accounted for the biggest single part of what I opened every day. It became a burden. Though I mostly liked what I read, I just didn’t have time to read seven, eight new posts a day and all of the comments. This one blog took close to 25% of my total time! There was no way I could follow his blog without significantly shortening the time I spent reading the one or fewer daily posts of other people I follow. There also was the question of getting around to writing for my blog when catching up with all posts and comments took a major part of my day.

Another cause for dropping a follow is “self-important blogger”. Believe me, pride DOES go before the fall! I even experienced it this past week, shared it with you as a way to straighten up my prideful self. I dropped a blog this morning because of it. His hubris, not mine. Oh yes, and he replaced the other fellow who posted so frequently and whose followers commented so much that I spent most of my time sorting through g-mails related to his blog, and little on anything by anyone else.

In this instance, it wasn’t enough of a cause to make me to unfollow the blog. There were more than one, including insulting people who “liked” one of his recent posts!

Sometimes “enough” means “too much”.

15 thoughts on “Sometimes “enough” means “too much”.

  1. Understood about the blogger who posts a dozen or so posts per day. I unfortunately have had to unfollow some as I could not keep up.
    I read where a gal has four blogs going on different blogging sites, plus face book and twitter, and is waiting for another blogging site to open back up so she can add that one also.
    I have no idea where she gets the energy as word press is about all i am up too, enery wise.

    • Gad! I’m with you! One is enough. Maybe she blogs professionally. Regardless, I try to keep a balance between my online life and my contacts with friends in the “real” world because it is very easy to become swamped by what’s available to view and do online.

      I didn’t feel good dropping the one guy because he had an interesting perspective on life (if much more conservative than mine), and happens to be very articulate and rational in how he presents that view.

      The other one I dropped (or thought I did) still appears on my g-mail page. He, too, has an interesting perspective on life. If less polished than the other guy, he still is articulate and rational. He also writes very long postings several times a day. SInce I still get them, I guess I’ll try to resolve the time issue by being more selective on which ones to open. It’s a new thing for me. If I subscribe to someone, I tend to read each and everything (or view, if art or photos) he or she posts. I’ll see if it works. If it does, I might return to the subscription list of the other guy, too.

      This post is a cry for relief from that sense I cut myself off too much from in person human contacts! I feel uncomfortable cutting off someone who can help me see things from a different perspective than the one I have. I feel like I do myself a big disservice.

      Seriously, when I re-focused my blog on “surviving retirement with two cats”, I meant to take a much lighter look at my life than this post and others this past week have been. (“Seriously” … “I meant to take a much lighter look at my life”! Sometimes I have to look at myself and wonder! LOL!)

    • Those are fictional labels, and I made them up for purposes of showing a Pareto analysis, not to highlight things I consider, necessarily, when following a blog or unfollowing one.

      The column labelled “instances”, too, shows a randomly chosen number for purposes of my illustration. I think politically extreme blogs would be on the top of the list except for one thing: if they are politically extreme, I don’t follow them in the first place!

      New Age, I guess, might mean belief in paganism, which probably isn’t a precise enough term- just say spiritual beliefs contrary to whatever spiritual tradition one follows. Or an earth mother, pyramid power, holistic medicine. I don’t know. I have no horse in that race! While these sorts of things have no particular appeal to me, I have dear friends who find them very appealing.

      “Too frequent” doesn’t apply to you. That’s a subjective label anyway.

      One that fit that label (for me) had a very active comments section going on in his blog, and it was returning to the same seven or eight posts several times a day for dozens of comments that wore me out. It’s a use of a blog that seems more suitable for Facebook, where reading comments doesn’t involve several keystrokes to get to them, then to remove them from your g-mail page.

      I find comments agreeable, however, because they help me keep interested in writing. Of course, they also sometimes challenge me to write with greater clarity!

      Since I posted this, I try to view the poster’s work by opening his/her blog post, then read the comments on my g-mail page instead of opening the post over and over.

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