Something we try to do a lot in business is to focus on the high value areas and scale them, and avoid trying to do a little of everything.

For example, did you know that Mail Chimp originally started out as a web design agency that did mailing lists as a side service? The founders realised that it was the mailing list software that customers were coming to them for, and it was bringing in 80% of their business. Eventually they shut down the rest of their business to focus on the highest value element and Mail Chimp became a global name.

I think this is really applicable to our personal lives, maybe even more so as we don’t want to waste our precious energy on things that are not going to deliver benefit. Here are a couple of areas I’ve done the cost/effort vs benefit analysis for and simplified my approaches:

Exercise – When I first started getting back into fitness I tried to come up with the optimum mixture of cardio, strength and flexibility training sessions. What I found much easier to help start a consistent habit, was to pick one thing that was easy for me to do and enjoyed, and repeat it. For me this was running because I like listening to podcasts whilst I’m on the treadmill, and it was something I could do flexibly (no class to schedule to) and do straight after finishing work. I’ve seen my best results by focusing on this one activity and scaling up to no less than twice per week.

Blogging – I posted a while back about how I stopped creating my own images for my blog posts and instead decided to focus on just the content, which is the reason I started in the first place. This removed a lot of the stress and work, but also allowed me to double down on writing and commit to a post at least once week.

Non-essential spending – Even the most frugal of us need a budget for non-essential treats, but sometimes this ends up as mindless spending. As part of my 2020 personal finance focus I went through all my costs to see where I wasn’t getting my bang for buck in either pleasure or convenience. Out went streaming services, haircuts (I now get a home ‘do’), Ubers (we either take turns to drive home from the pub or get the late night bus and make the 15 minute walk) and cafe coffees (switched to a nice instant). This gave me the freedom to increase guilt-free spending on other things that I get much more joy from – Thai massages, yoga/mediation workshops (in June I spent $85 on a breathwork session – something I never would even have tried had I not already cut back on low-value treats), good wine and weekends away.

Have you scaled and focused your efforts in an area of life? What did you cut out and what did you scale up?