How the 80/20 Rule Applies to Your Creative Slump

February 29, 2016

4:00 pm

You know what’s frustrating? Being in the mood to create. Being in the right environment to create. Yet having no idea what to create or even where to begin. That’s frustrating.

Like most creative types, I make an intentional effort to create everyday. For me that means writing before and editing after work everyday. For others it could mean making a video everyday, or working on an art piece, or creating ten pages towards your next book, for example.

The key, though, is being intentional. Most creative types are very intentional about creating as much as they can around other responsibilities. Each of them also struggles with their own version of writer’s block at some point (or often). If this lasts for more than a few minutes, as you might expect it to, it can become incredibly frustrating!

One of the worst feelings is being capable of doing something, knowing you need to do it, and being unable to follow through in the moment. It feels like you’re letting yourself down. But you’re not letting yourself down. You’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. What’s happening to you is exactly what’s supposed to be happening.

No person can be at the top of their game all the time. Your output, especially as a creative or entrepreneur type, is going to look very similar to the 80/20 rule. If you’re not familiar with the 80/20 rule, it basically goes like this: 80 percent of your results (revenue, customers, best work, web traffic, etc.) will come from 20 percent of your effort (target customers, finished products, articles, etc.).

Take blogging as an example. The 80/20 rule would say that 80 percent of your site’s traffic would come from 20 percent of the content on your site. The inverse of the 80/20 rule is that only 20 percent of your web traffic come from the other 80 percent of content on your site.

Really, there’s two things to take away from this. One is that you can maximize your results by focusing on the 20 percent of effort that brings in 80 percent of your results. What would happen if you put all of your effort into that channel, instead of just 20 percent?

Second, which is more important to this particular piece, is that everyone is going to put the majority of their effort into things, areas, moments, etc. that only bring in the minority of results. It’s okay to be stuck in a momentary slump. It’s okay to be frustrated by it. We’ve all been there. We’ll all be there again sooner than we’d like. But know this.

You have to go through the bad and the frustration and the slumps in order to get to the creative highs and masterpieces and viral sensations. The majority of time spent by anyone trying to do anything is spent in frustration looking for that golden 20 percent. It’s like a creative Easter egg hunt. You’re going to have to comb a lot of yard before you find any candy.

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Kenneth is a writer, marketer, and creative type. Check out his website at !