Quickly, which chair is the most comfortable in your house?
Is it your sofa chair? Your office chair?
I'll bet that nobody said their dining chairs. Why is that? The dining room, where you invite your guests, where you want to show off your heirloom family silverware and china plates. Wouldn't it make sense to have nice chairs to round out the experience?
Ultimately though, we need to consider the utility of those decisions. To upgrade the dining chairs is to reallocate those financial resources from something else. Is a dollar spent on dining room furniture going to improve your life the most?
To live a rich and comfortable life, you don’t need to have the nicest of everything. In fact, you really need only a few nice things to radically improve your life.
Warren Buffet jokes about exactly this, suggesting that most middle class families will drive nicer cars than he does. For someone who doesn’t spend much time behind the wheel, even with an abundance of money, his dollars have a far greater impact if he applies them elsewhere.
What was the answer to your most comfortable chair?
Now think about your life, and how much time you spend in any one given place in your household. Are you ensuring that the places within your house that you spend an inordinate amount of time are the most comfortable that you can make them?
We spend an estimated 30 percent of our lives in bed, is your mattress contributing to your better sleep and physical health? If you work from home, what about your office setup?
I spend a disproportionate amount of time in my office, anywhere from 80 to well over 100 hours a week, whether that’s reading, working, playing games, or simply thinking. I get far more utility for my dollars spent if I make sure that I have a good setup. Given how much time I spend, it was only sensible that I get a good office chair. Having better posture is an investment as much in today’s comfort as in protecting my body for the future.
The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule works well to describe this phenomenon. 80% of the outcomes are driven by 20% of the inputs.
In our chair example, we spend 80% of our time sitting in 20% of the chairs in our house. But we can see that principle applied throughout our lives. 80% of the kitchen work is done by 20% of the knives. 80% of our walking is in 20% of our shoes.
Finding those 20% of activities and items that produce 80% of our results in any activity is essential. When you start identifying, and improving those 20% of inputs, you can maximize the utility, and live a far richer life.
If you want to live a richer life, make the most out of the few areas that really drive value for you.