The Pareto Principle

Happy Monday! 

If you have had days where you feel consist of eat, sleep, school, homework, volunteer, repeat – you are not alone.  Many have the impression that if they are not doing things that directly impact school work, then maybe it is a time waster or laziness.  However, this type of mindset can actually be counter productive. It is safe to say that many people have had those moments where studying non stop actually brought about negative feelings since you are giving up doing things you enjoy in order to be successful in that class, or that exam.  What happens in turn is that you are less productive with your time due to a lack of focus and concentration.  Sometimes you need a reset on how you approach things.  

A habit that may help you cut your study time while improving your grades is known as the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule.  This principle can be used in almost any aspect, whether it be in the classroom, in business, fitness goals, anything really.  The principle basically states that 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes.  Some simple examples include: 20% of the world’s population has 80% of the wealth; 20% of seeds planted result in 80% of flowers; and, even in language, 20% of word’s account for 80% of usage.  The important thing to remember is how skewed these numbers can be and how cause and effect works.  

To understand how this can help you in the classroom, it is likely that 20% or less of what you focus on leads to a majority of your results.  So, 20% of the content your teacher is going over in class makes up the majority of what is on your actual exams. Therefore, teachers are focusing on the most important concepts of the subject matter, which ends up being about 20% of the material they teach.  

What you want is to narrow in on focusing on that 20% of critical information your teacher thinks is important enough to test, in order to have greater results. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  1. If you notice a teacher spending a lot of time on a particular topic, make note of it and make sure to review that topic.  
  2. Generally, only topics discussed in class are actually going to be on exams.  If you have extra reading material, teachers may add a question or two but spend most of your time focusing on what the teacher went over in class.
  3. If a teacher mentions that a particular topic is something they would test you on, they are not kidding!  Make a note of it, and go over it.
  4. Lastly, focus on understanding the material and not just memorizing.  The 80/20 rule really works when you grasp the core idea behind the material you are learning. 

For this weeks #MakeItHappen, try applying the Pareto Principle to your daily routine.  You may find that it works not just in the classroom but in other areas as well.  If you are an athlete, focus on increasing a dynamic warm up and high intensity conditioning for better results.  By focusing on what is important, you remove the “fluff” and have more time to do the things you enjoy.  Let us know how it’s going, and email us at or share your story and tag us on social.

Go make it happen,
Luly & the YTeach Team

“The key to success is not doing more.  It’s doing more of what works.”

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