• David Jacob

The 85% Solution

I spend a lot of my time looking for ways to make my life easier.

I’d like to say that it’s not laziness, it’s all about efficiency! But I’d be lying.

I want to put in the least amount of work possible for the stuff I don’t care about.

Take university, for example. You spend 3–4 years there, but you only really learn how to navigate it by the end of your second year, probably the middle of your third if we’re being honest. It takes time to learn how to pick modules that you like (and are good at), the best ways to study, how to not blow your student loan in 6 weeks (for those in the UK), and how to eat well so that you don’t gain a ton of weight.

These seem simple, but they elude most people: - 1/3 students have maxed out their overdraft - The average fresher gains nearly 10lbs of weight in their first year

I remember thinking, “what if there was an all in one solution? Something that took all the important parts of your university life, and set out the most efficient ways of solving them. That would mean you wouldn’t need to spend two years muddling through it, you would be good to go from the minute you started uni.

So, in 2017, I co-authored a book called Uni Lifehacks.

In it, there are simple breakdowns on how to solve the problems most students face at university, from the most efficient ways to learn new topics, how to cook cheap, tasty meals, all the way to how to save and make money. The project sparked something in me, and the seed for The 85% Solution was born.

The name The 85% Solution is taken from Ramit Sethi’s book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He suggests a solution to managing your money where 85% of perfect is good enough. It’ll let you not worry about money and focus on the stuff you really care about:

Too many of us get overwhelmed thinking we need to manage our money perfectly, which leads us to do nothing at all. That’s why we the easiest way to manage your money is to take it one step at a time – and not worry about being perfect. I’d rather act and get it 85% right than do nothing. Think about it: 85% of the way is far better than 0%. Once your money system is good enough – or 85% of the way there – you can get on with your life and do the things you really want to do.

This idea made me sit up.

I remember thinking: YES. THIS. This is what I’m talking about!

My logic is, there are things in life that are inescapable.

For example:

  • Money-management

  • Cooking

  • Keeping healthy

  • Decision-making

Getting to 85% of perfect on these things, among others, means that I would be able to focus more of my attention on the stuff I do enjoy or value doing, without having to think about improving or focusing on these things.

There are so many things in life that if we knew the first principles of, and applied them and ONLY them, we’d basically get to 85% of perfect. That would give us the time, headspace and energy to really focus on the stuff that we actually care about.

Recently, I started creating Twitter threads about the #85pcsolution, focusing on topics that I thought would have the biggest benefit.

I’ve created (at the time of writing) six threads on Twitter that cover a range of topics, from negotiation to finance to cooking.

In them, I distil the concepts that will improve people’s abilities in any given topic by the most disproportionate amount. That means by only applying those few principles, the improvement in any area will be disproportionate compared to trying to learn everything at once.

I’m going to be writing them in short form on my Twitter, and long form (like this) here.

The first topic I’ve created an 85% solution for, is Personal Finance.

Follow me on Twitter @DavidJacob_1 for more like this!

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