In 2020, we removed 80% of our unhappiness in the home. Using the 80/20 rule, we took stock of what grated on us most, and one by one started eliminating them. The results were huge.
The 80 / 20 rule, also known as Pareto’s Principle, is where 80% of the outcome is from 20% of the effort. This can be applied in so many areas in your life. Today we’re looking at a big one – your happiness and in particular – your pebbles.
You know when you get a little rock in your shoe? That tiny thing will stop you in your tracks, annoying you until you flick it out. Now imagine the pebble as an issue in your life, the kind that doesn’t take much effort being there (the 20%) but causes you constant grief (the 80%).
Once the pebble is solved, the 80/20 rule is reversed. The small effort (the 20%) to remove the pebble gives you an abundance of happiness and gratitude (the 80%) because it’s no longer in your life.
Have I got your attention?
Taking Stock Of Your Pebbles
Just like it’s important to have a regular decluttering practice for physical or digital items, every so often it’s time to take stock of the ‘pebbles’ in your life to see what can be removed.
The pebbles term was first introduced to us by Vanessa Van Edwards, when we completed her Power of Happiness course back in 2018, and we’ve been removing them as much as possible ever since.
The first step is to write down all the current physical pebbles in your environment. Start at the front of your house and slowly work all the way through to the backyard.
Take your time to think about all the things that either annoy you or you ‘just put up with’.
Here’s a few examples to get you started:
- Squeaky doors
- Lightbulb that needs replacing
- Bags that need to be donated
- Buy new remote for TV so all the buttons work again
One of our pebbles was the microwave. Over time, it became harder to shut. You’d flick it closed, only to have the door bounce back out, requiring you to slam it shut.
The solution? A couple of drops of oil on the latches. Pebble solved in under 5 minutes. We’d put up with this for years!
The relief and happiness you feel once these are removed from your life is amazing. It only compounds, becoming more addictive as you go.
Once pebbles become more noticeable, you start seeing them in other areas of your life outside the home.
Some examples are:
- Working out a shortcut on your reports at work that saves you half an hour a week
- Finally getting the tyres replaced on your car
It’s when you start to look around you that you realise just how many annoying things you put up with in your life.
Say you start off a new day feeling neutral, and by the time you’re cooking dinner you’ve had 20+ pebbles trigger you throughout the day as you walk past them or even trip over them (here’s looking at you rug before I bought your non-slip mat underneath).
That’s a lot of environmental factors negatively impacting your day which YOU HAVE COMPLETE CONTROL OVER TO SOLVE.
Imagine the same day as before, but with all the pebbles removed. By the time you get to dinner, you’re practically swinging around the kitchen table with all the improvements!
This. Is. Huge.
How We Removed 80% of Our Unhappiness in The Home for under $2k in 2020:
In June 2019, we had a strong winter storm which ended up snapping a huge branch off a tree out the back, landing in the neighbours garden. Once that was cleaned up, whenever we had another storm (especially overnight), I’d lie there listening to the tree swaying around just waiting for another branch to fall off. We worried about this for another YEAR before I finally rung an arborist. 24 hours later, the tree was cut down and completely removed without lifting a finger. We were also told it was a good thing we removed it as there was a high chance another branch could have snapped on that type of tree.
Total cost: $250.
Total personal time cost: 5 minutes. It was a pretty quick phone call!
When we first got back from our round the world trip, we bought a secondhand washing machine for $250. For 5 years it washed perfectly. Then it started this clunking noise – it didn’t affect the washing but it sounded horrendous. Because it wasn’t theoretically “broken” we continued to put up with it. It got to the point though where it was so embarrassingly loud, and it was time to get rid of the pebble. So we sold it for $150 (yep, clunking and all – even showed them a video of the noise!) and popped $200 worth of birthday money toward a brand new washing machine.
Total cost: $344 ($694 – $150 for old one and -$200 birthday money)
Total personal time cost: 1 hour. 30 minutes to snap a pic, upload to Gumtree and help the buyer load it in the car. 30 minutes to research and order a new one online with free next day delivery and installation (thanks AppliancesOnline!).
Some of you may have seen our kitchen renovation transformation over on our Instagram stories. We had a daggy wood kitchen from the 80s but the appliances were all fine, we just wanted it a more aesthetically pleasing kitchen. We set it as a project over winter to take 2 weeks off and set to work. Using just paint, we revamped all the cupboards and benchtops from wood to a lovely white and grey. The results were huge. The only new parts we added were new black handles. Now it feels great whenever we go to make a coffee in the morning, and it cost hardly anything!
Total cost: $380
There’s nothing better than listening to the wind and rain lashing outside while you’re rugged up in bed. Unless you start hearing drips on your ceiling! This was our biggest pebble of the year. A roof leak that only occured if the rain was coming in at a certain angle. It happened so infrequently, we’d forget about it then only remember when it was the middle of the night and not the right time to contact someone! We finally got someone in who not only fixed that leak but found another as well. Huge peace of mind was gained that day.
Total cost: $1100
We’d noticed the last few years our kitchen would heat up a lot over summer with the afternoon sun coming straight through the window. It was especially hot when Laura would be trying to do the dishes after dinner with the sun streaming in full force in front of her. Her idea was to put a blind up, and she said she hadn’t suggested it sooner as she thought blinds were very expensive and hard to install. A couple of YouTube videos, a quick visit to the hardware store and 24 hours later we’d installed a brand new blind for $26. The difference it’s made to her ‘dishes time’ and the heat of the house has been huge.
Total cost: $26
The Biggest Change We Made Yet
The last, and most happiness-inducing, pebble removal of the year – moving bedrooms. What was meant to be a night time sanctuary, quickly became riddled with regular anxiety and the question of “What’s going to wake us up tonight?”. You see, our house is semi-detached with a shared wall straight down the middle. This means, combined with 80’s infrastructure of no insulation between the homes, we can hear everything going on in our neighbour’s bedroom. From yelling fits and 2am karaoke of Meatloaf best hits, to morning alarms and even SMS phone dings – we heard it all.
It got to the point we desperately wanted to move, and if we did, would need at least $60k for a cash deposit on another house, with $20k of that going down the drain to Stamp Duty. An expensive and drastic solution if you ask us, but we were running out of options, or so we thought.
Laura one night had the idea to move bedrooms. We only have two, and the other one was being used as our home office. We figured it didn’t cost anything, and only took us one night to switch around our furniture from room to room.
Six months on from that switch, the results have been indescribable. That move literally saved us thousands, and mentally saved us from going crazy. The room is quiet, we can’t hear a thing, and yet we’re just down the hall. We don’t even mind that the room is smaller, and now love the bigger home office where I’m currently writing this from, the sun streaming in from the windows next to me.
Next time you have a big pebble, really think about all the ways you can remove it. One of the best tips I’ve read lately in solving problems, is to get past your “only” solution. Roadblock it and pretend you can’t do it. For us, we said – okay, take ‘moving house’ off the table with our bedroom situation – what else can we do? We looked into so many other ideas before thinking of that final answer – the one that ended up being the simplest and most cost effective answer of all!
Before swapping rooms, we’d also looked into soundproofing the room and even converting our shed out the back into an external bedroom. Both these ideas also cost money, but we were looking at the angle of “if you’re already going to lose $20k to stamp duty buying a new house, is there a way to use that money instead to add value to the house AND solve the sound issue?”. Lucky for us the final answer was free.
So tell us, what pebbles are either in your life right now that you’d LOVE to remove, or what’s a big pebble you’ve removed recently that’s made a huge impact? Let us know in the comments!