image by sarah mccoy photo

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Eighty Percenting®

I am an Eighty-Percenter®. 

I find happiness, humor, and relief in Eighty-Percenting most temporal things. This is not an exhortation to anyone to try to follow in the rarefied ways of Eighty-Percenters; I’m not sure whether anyone can become one. Eighty-Percenters may be like ambidextrous people or albino crocodiles. One can deride or admire, but not, perhaps, aspire. This is simply an expression of the joys of Eighty-Percenting, and a celebration of its freedoms.

A Sea of Tranquility and Endless Laundry
Eighty-Percenting® is an attitude.
I do like beds to be made. A made bed is a sheltered island in a typhoon or a jewel in a calm sea. But no piles of throw pillows, please. Nothing that would impede the daily achievement of a made bed, please. Eighty-Percenters need reasonable goals. Therefore, I take five minutes every morning to give a quick once-over to my bedroom before seizing the day. And then, I often place a basket of unfolded laundry on the made bed. A chore undone, but framed in general order. That’s Eighty-Percenting.

Eighty-Percenting® is permission.
Eighty-Percenting is a rubric for triaging your responsibilities. When you feel that a shower would be refreshing but dread all the labor of a shampoo, Eighty-Percenting allows you to do one without the other. When there is still a risotto pot soaking in the sink, but you are tired and want to read a quick chapter before your eyelids get too heavy, Eighty-Percenting helps you choose the important over the urgent.

It's a lot to shampoo. Try to sympathize.
Eighty-Percenting® is a boundary.
Eighty-Percenting helps you choose where to draw arbitrary lines. My kids have been known to dress like circus clowns, bag ladies and everything in between. Well, I have touchy aesthetic sensibilities. I also love my creative, uninhibited kids. As an Eighty-Percenter, I have two strategies for treading the space between public ridicule and the crushing of tiny souls. Option One is to employ the Line Item Veto. (“You can wear the muumuu, the striped leggings, and the sequined boots, but I need you to lose the furry scarf.”) Option Two is to braid their hair. (“Now at least you look like someone cares.”) Eighty-Percenting helps you keep your concerns rationally ordered.

Eighty-Percenting® is a gateway.
Sometimes, Eighty-Percenting is also a soft start to Hundred-Percenting. An overwhelming task seems friendlier if I have given myself permission to do just so much. But as Mary Poppins aptly says, “Well begun is half done,” and everyone knows that the momentum of getting underway often carries you through to the finish. Eighty-Percenting gets the ball rolling.

If you’re a pathological perfectionist, or on the other side of the spectrum, a committed Netflix binger, Eighty-Percenting is probably not for you. If my laundry basket is still bothering you, or you are currently wearing a muumuu and sequined boots, Eighty-Percenting is probably not for you. That’s OK. It’s quite possible that the only Eighty-Percenter out there is me, drinking yesterday’s reheated coffee and happily reading a great book in the sunshine.