In the month of May 2018, I’m writing all about how to become a better learner. In the last post, we learned about deconstructing your goals by reducing, interviewing, and translating to better understand what skills and topics are necessary to learn to achieve your goal.
After figuring out what is necessary, next, it’s time to apply the Pareto Principle, and select which 20% of actions are going to lead to 80% of the results.
The goal with learning is proficiency and excellence in the shortest period of time; why do things which will only get you 5% of the way when you could do something that gets you 50% of the way?
In other words, we are trying to answer the question, what can I learn today which will bring a large percentage of the results?
In this post, I’ll be getting into step 2 of 4 in the learning strategy from the 4-Hour Chef, talk about the Pareto Principle, and get you on the way to more efficient learning.
The 4-Hour Chef Learning Strategy
Guiding us on our learning how to become a better learner is the book the 4-Hour Chef, by Tim Ferris.
The 4-Hour Chef is a book all about learning and how to become a better learner (and at the same time, teaches you how to cook… but that’s not what we are going to focus on this month).
In the book, Tim Ferris explains how anyone can be an expert in anything in 6 to 12 months, and if practiced effectively, even 6 to 12 weeks.
The 4-Hour Chef Learning Strategy is simple. Complexity is what trips up many people when they go to learn.
The 4-Hour Chef learning strategy can be remembered as DiSSS, and stands for the following:
- What are the smallest learnable pieces of information or tasks which you can break the learning into?
- From those smallest blocks of information, which ones should you focus on? (20/80 Principle)
- What is the correct order you should go about applying the important small blocks?
- How can ensure you follow the program? Can you set-up a system where if you don’t do the tasks you identified that there are real negative consequences?
So far in this series, we’ve touched on deconstruction. Today’s post is about selection.
Selecting the Best Actions by Applying the Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle is an observed pattern that shows most things in life are not evenly distributed.
Also known as the 80/20 principle, the Pareto Principle states that 80% of the output comes from 20% of the input – and this is observed in many areas:
- 20% of workers produce 80% of the work
- 20% of the customers produce 80% of the sales
- Applied to this learning series, 20% of your actions and things you learn will bring 80% of our results.
The next logical question then is how do we select those 20% of actions? How do you figure out what is completely necessary, and what can wait?
Honestly, I’m not sure the right answer to your specific situation.
Each learning situation is different.
What do I?
I dive down the rabbit hole; I watch a couple YouTube videos, do a bunch of Googling, and try to better understand what will result in a headache and what will result in success.
Again, this comes with trying and experimenting… each learning situation is different and if you find yourself getting a headache and not seeing results with one methods, then maybe it’s time to try another one.
Applying the Pareto Principle and Becoming a Better Piano Player
Show me, don’t just tell me.
Anyone can put up anything on the internet these days.
I can write all about learning and how to become a better learner, but all of that is wasted knowledge if I don’t actually apply it in my life. (it’s also bogus if I don’t practice what I preach!)
This month, alongside this series of posts, I’ve started playing piano again with the intent to learn how to become a better piano player.
When I was deconstructing my goals, I determined that learning some music theory, as well as doing some sight-reading exercises, would be most beneficial for becoming better at playing piano.
I went down the rabbit hole these past few days.
In the last post and video, I mentioned how I found something called the Circle of Fifths, and that I though it would have something to do with chord progression.
Well, I was wrong… but I was right saying that chord progression was important.
During my research, I came across Piano Pig on YouTube, and started to learn all about chord progression. I learned that nearly all songs are created from a few chords, played over and over.
Once I started learning this, I realized I had came across something amazing – I said to myself, “Okay, so now I can potentially play 100s of songs without actually having to read music… AND I can create my own songs?” That sounds like an easy 20/80.
The last few days I’ve spent improvising and also learning how to play a few chord progressions.
Check out this post’s video where I talk more about chord progressions, the 2nd step of our learning strategy, selection, and improvise over the C scale for 2 minutes (at the 7 minute mark):
Concluding Thoughts on What You Can Learn Today to Bring 80% of the Results
After setting your goal and deconstructing what you want to learn, figuring out the best course of action is critical.
What are the 20% of actions which can bring 80% of the results? What are the core things you should learn first which will help you get to proficiency fastest?
The Pareto Principle is alive and well in the world – let’s use it to our advantage and become better.
In the next post, we will look at the next step to learning: sequencing
Readers: do you have a system or framework for prioritizing work? How do you go about determining what you are going to do which will bring the most results? Do you apply the Pareto Principle in your work?
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