The 80/20 rule in minimalism

You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.
~Vernon Howard

Those of you who follow simple living and minimalism blogs are probably familiar with the 80/20 rule. The idea that 80% of the time, you’re only using 20% of your stuff/space. I’m posting about it because, well, it’s generally true in some fashion or another. Maybe not exactly 80/20, maybe 65/35 or even 90/10, but it does hold true.

Open your closet. Which clothing items do you wear ALL THE TIME? Which do you almost never wear? I know a lot of people who have a big 80/20 in their closets…they only wear 20% of their clothing on a regular basis. Mine’s the opposite now. I’ve pared my clothing down so that I wear 80% of my clothing probably 98% of the time. The rest of it is stuff like my interview outfit, nice dress clothes, or my ren faire outfit that I don’t wear constantly (or hardly ever), but need to keep for their specific purposes (I’d love to get rid of the interview outfit and the dress clothes, but like hell that’s ever going to happen).

It’s true in space, too. Most of my time is spent in my bed, in front of my desk, in the bathroom or the kitchen, or maybe on my futon. The rest of the space in my apartment (thankfully not much) goes unused. Why do I need an extra 200 sq ft that I’m never going to use? Hell, it’d be an unwanted space, since then I’d have to do something with it to make it not feel empty and I’m out of furniture.

My only issue with the 80/20 rule is that while it’s a neat and true idea…it’s not particularly useful. Aside from using it as a reminder when hunting for a new home (I’m only really going to be using so much space, no matter how big the area, do I need a larger apartment?), most of its functions can easily be replaced with generic questions (Am I really going to wear this all the time?) A great thought experiment, for sure, but not much beyond that.

One Response to “The 80/20 rule in minimalism”

  1. I’m pretty good about the space thing. However, do not ask me about clothing :P I’ve pared down a lot, but I have a lot of “special occasion” clothing.

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