Efficiency in the Field

Your life and possibly the lives of others depends on your ability to be efficient with your actions during a SHTF scenario. My definition of what a SHTF scenario entails is quite broad. You could be on a sailboat in the middle of the Pacific at night and just hit a shipping container. You could be taking a short cut through an alley on the way to your favorite coffee shop and get mugged by three felons. You could find yourself in your car, at the bottom of a snow filled valley that you just slid into when you hit black ice and went off of the road, plummeting towards the valley floor. You can’t afford to waste your energy or daylight on insignificant or fruitless activities during these scenarios and many thousands of others.

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It’s the idea that in everything that is done, 20% of the effort spent was vital activity that produced 80% of the results while 80% of the effort spent was trivial activity that produced a mere 20% of the results. It’s less commonly known as Pareto’s Principle. Pareto was this Italian economist dude that seemed to have this all figured out. 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. The richest 20% of the population possesses 80% of the wealth. Etc.

I’m a firm believer in Pareto’s Law but I believe in tweaking it a bit. Why bother focusing on the 80% of clients that only produce 20% of your income? Why do the 80% of anything that produces only 20% of the results when instead, you can spend your time focusing on only the 20% of any activity that produces the real results?

As far back as I can remember, I’d been very interested in doing things without wasted movement. It was usually because I wanted to get as much done as possible and that I also wanted to have more time to play. My Dad taught me early on that if you bust your ass quickly and do the job right the first time, you’ll have more time to screw off when you are done. Thanks to a few years worth of lean methodology training that I received from one my favorite employers, I became a little more focused on efficiency than I had been previously. It was about 9 years ago that I went to work for them. The lean training had a pretty profound effect on the way I do everything. Then about 7 years ago, I read about the 80/20 rule. I loved it! I’d been believing in it for the longest time, it’s just that now it had a name. It just helped to define my approach to survival, life endangering situations, and more.

Let’s take firing a handgun and apply the 80/20 principle to that action. Pulling the trigger produces 80% of the results, bottom line. You can argue all day that there is a more important action like sight picture, but it’s simply not so. To fire a handgun, you must pull the trigger. Everything else is secondary to that. Now if we use a different example, such as hitting an assailant within close range with the same handgun, the two actions that produce all of the results are now pulling the trigger and pointing the firearm in the right direction. Notice that I did not say aiming. Aiming takes more time than pointing and aiming is not necessary in close range shootings since the overwhelming majority of all shootings take place within 10 feet, most within 3 feet. Aiming down the sights is usually wasted movement. Everything else is wasted movement as well. The position of your feet, your breath control, sight picture, and whether or not you are shooting weaver stance or isosceles stance have little effect on the outcome compared to pulling the trigger and pointing in the right direction. You may disagree on the actions that are most important but the 80/20 rule still applies.

There are some that would say that using the 80/20 rule is being half-assed about the task you are focusing on because you aren’t doing everything you should be doing to maximize your efficiency. Absolutely it’s half-assing it. Let’s say that you and I are both given 5 tasks to complete. They must be completed in 100 minutes. Whomever completes these 5 tasks most effectively within the 100 minutes gets to live while the other one will freeze to death, exposed to the elements.

By following the 80/20 rule, I could complete my 5 tasks in the same time it takes you to complete 1. You may have done your one task absolutely perfect while I, half-assing my tasks, was able to be more effective overall. You built the ultimate fish trap, perfect in every way. It would have fed you for years without fail if you would have survived the night. I built a fairly decent fish trap, shelter, fire, set snares, and came up with a method of boiling water. Nothing I did was perfect but all of it got the job done. You lose to the guy that half-assed it.

I’m actually an odd sort of perfectionist but in a survival situation, it’s necessary to cut corners and to “repair” them later. It makes too much sense and in addition, I’ve proven to myself through my own experience that this is a much more effective approach. Get as much done as you possibly can very quickly and once you have the bases covered, you can go back and

Part of one of our competitions for the kids!
Part of one of our competitions for the kids!

spend that extra 80% of your effort that only yields 20% of the results later to maximize the likelihood of you catching fish, fix those small drafts in your shelter, and set some better snares.

We even train the 80/20 rule into our children at a young age and teach them to focus on what is producing the results. We even have “competitions” that are designed to put them under a certain amount of stress with the goal of inoculating them from stress that they will experience during real life SHTF situations.

When the SHTF, you don’t need to do everything exceptionally, you do need to do it effectively. Every second you burn could be time, calories, or hydration that you need to survive. BE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE.


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