Getting Bored Before Getting Done

This is an article about the 80% Problem.

You may have heard the variously-attributed quote that 80% of the work gets done in 20% of the time, and the other 20% of the work takes 80% of the time.  

You already know that intensives don’t do anything by halves.  If you are an intensive you may have already encountered the intensive version of this: 80% of the work gets done in 20% of the time.

…that’s it.

That’s the whole thing.

Because we stall out.  After 80% of the work we can see two things:

  1. THAT we can finish the project
  2. HOW to finish the project

The puzzle is solved, the mystery is no longer a mystery, now it’s just doing what needs to be done.

We are instantly bored.  We lose interest.  

The tasks necessary are just tasks, no challenge, no sparkle, no shine, no adventure, no novelty.  

How do we deal with it?

  1. reframe the last 20% as a new task.  Because tasks are not theoretical math (even if they involve theoretical math) eventually getting 80% of the way through the project (and its last 20% and its last 20%) will in fact get you close enough to done.
  2. use expansive strategies for expansive work.  Do one task every morning first thing instead of taking it on as a giant lump.  Giant lumps are great when you’re excited and interested, not so good when you’re bored.
  3. team up with expansives.  Expansives love lists of discrete tasks with a known endpoint.  You generate momentum, they provide consistency and followup.  The world needs all of us.  You don’t have to be perfect at everything.  Find someone who is.  This is important to consider when you’re hiring people to add to your team. OR if you have a team and your intensives lose steam just as they’re getting toward completion.  A high tolerance expansive and a high SIEF score intensive can make a perfect team.

You don’t have to be miserable, but it’s a waste if you always stop when the finish line comes in sight.  Make good use of all that good work, and get good at getting done.