Applying the 80/20 Rule to Reading.

The Pareto Principle – This is best described by author Tim Ferriss where he says that 80% of output is due to only 20% of input.
Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

Here are a couple more examples of the Pareto principle to get you familiar with it if you haven’t yet heard of it:

  • 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of its customers
  • 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.
  • 80% of a company’s sales come from 20% of its products
  • 20% of the features cause 80% of the usage

While speed reading about this in Tim Ferriss’ book ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’ I have come to the realisation that (in the past) I was wasting so much of my time on insignificant text (I Normally read educational books, whether they are self help, motivation or financial, I find a lot of reward from them and their teachings).
I’m learning that speed reading doesn’t mean a monotonous single fast speed, it’s a matter of getting through the text to the 20% that matters and slowing down for improved comprehension. Tim himself says to practise taking only 2 fixations or ‘snapshots’ per line for 5 pages. It’s not against the rules to go back and read those five pages, however when I do my comprehension increases for 2 reasons:

  • 1. I am reading the text slightly slower,
  • 2. I am already slightly familiar with the text.

I need to go back and revisit my initial WPM (words per minute) reading time, however I feel there has been a drastic improvement. I was just able to read through 40 pages of text in 60 minutes while taking notes and visiting 2 of the recommended websites.
I also find that I have strayed much less in my reading, since I have a small purpose I’m able to focus on the text and comprehend it without my mind drifting so much.
Perhaps I’m not giving Tim enough credit and Mr. Ferris has just written some very capturing text!
Either way, I’m growing and learning – so let’s keep moving forward!

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