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The Pareto Principle

By Ava Kesler

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) states that 80% of consequences result 20% of the causes. Originally used to apply to economics, the 80/20 rule can also be applied to general productivity, including studying.

Essentially, 20% of your efforts are yielding 80% of your results. This means one should focus on specific methods and habits to produce the most effective results.

Time Management

The 80/20 rule can be applied to time management by understanding that a short, focused amount of time can produce more desirable results.

Take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to plan out your activities. When you follow this new schedule throughout the week, you will save more time. Those 5 minutes of planning helped you carry out the entire week.

By highlighting the top 2 or 3 tasks for the week, (20%), you can ensure that you have 80% better results.

The Pareto principle essentially helps with prioritization. Looking at some decisions you need to make, you can backtrack to understand what the root cause is. Then focus on solving this cause. In this way, you minimize 5 problems into 1 ultimate problem to solve. Then upon solving it, you also solve all 5 problems. Thus the 80/20 rule.

This can be applied to studying as well. Looking at past tests, it is common that the majority of questions missed all have to do with the same topic. Thus had you focused studying on only 20% of the material (which you were weak on, assuming you knew everything else) then you could have yielded 80% better results. This concept can be used for future tests, as long as you have a good sense of what you need to work on.

Essentially, no matter how you apply the Pareto Principle to your life, it helps increase efficiency by preventing you from spreading yourself too thin. Focusing on clearly defined goals and topics ultimately helps you produce more and better goals.


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