Tag Archive | 80/20

Inspirational Materials as Resource 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How do you organize your bookmarks in the browser?”

“I have two folders: 20 and 80 (Pareto Principle). When I consider saving a bookmark, I ask myself:

Is this a 20 or an 80?

If it’s a 20, I save it in the 20 folder. If not, I save it in 80 folder.”

“Do you ever check the 80 folder?”


“Then what’s the point having it?”

“The point is having a filter when I consider saving stuff for later. The 80/20 question is the filter. The folders are a persistent reminder to ask the question.

Within the 20 folder, I have a folder called Inspirational. As you know, I use inspirational materials as a resource [<link; short read].

When I want to read/watch something, I extract something at random from the 20 folder.
When I want to read/watch something and get inspired, I extract something at random from the Inspirational folder.”

“How do you randomize them?”

“I use a Firefox add-on called Random Bookmark From Folder [<link]. It’s also available for Chrome.”

Thinker 9

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I love ideas. Playing with ideas is one of my favorite pastimes.”

“What are the most valuable ideas?”

“It’s important to realize how huge the universe of ideas is. It’s far beyond the scope of any one individual.

It’s also important to realize that engaging with ideas is a collective process. Humanity is enriched by the compounded effect of a myriad little individual contributions.

The chief task of the Thinker is to discover their area of contribution – the area they can contribute most in.

Within the realm of ideas, I’m mainly interested in practical ideas, by which I mean ideas that have practical application for the Art of Living. The Practical is my macro-filter, which narrows the universe of ideas considerably.

Within the realm of practical ideas, 20% are big ideas (Pareto Principle) – the most insightful kind.

Within the realm of practical big ideas, 20% are highest-leverage – the most impactful kind.” 

“So highest-leverage big ideas are 20% of the 20%.”

“Yes. Those are the most valuable.

Viewed as a hierarchy, it looks like this:

Highest-Leverage Practical Big Ideas
Practical Big Ideas
Practical Ideas

On Writing: Posting daily 3

The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars. (David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art and Fear)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

The 80% drown the 20%.

“What do you mean?”

“The Pareto Principle applies to writing as well.

When people read what you write, wouldn’t you want them to focus only on your best work – the 20%?

The problem is, by publishing the 80% you make it harder for them to discover your 20%.

Write every day, but only publish the 20%.

“Does this mean also removing 80% of my past writings?”


Think long term. Now it may seem like a lot of work. But you don’t have to do it all at once. And in time, the 20% will add up.

Save the 80% somewhere. They’re more valuable to you, as a piece of your history. In removing them, you’re making room for the 20% shine.”

Beautiful Models: One Thing

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the One Thing model?”

“It’s essentially a filtering model.

Let’s say you have a number of items which you want to evaluate for usefulness. According to the Pareto Principle (80/20), 20% of those items are responsible for 80% of the output. By applying the principle multiple times – identifying the 20% of the 20% of the 20% etc. – you’re eventually left with one thing.

When it comes to your life, you can use the One Thing as a framework for gaining clarity on various aspects of your life, big and small.

You have a big One Thing – your Purpose, your Ikigai, your guiding star.
You have lots of smaller One Things, for every aspect of your life.

The framework is like a questionnaire you’re creating for yourself, each question corresponding to a small One Thing.

I like to do it using templates [<link; medium read].

MIx (Most Important x)

MIT (Most Important Thing)
MIQ (Most Important Question)

MIV (Most Important Value)
MIS (Most Important Skill)
MIP (Most Important Practice)
MIR (Most Important Relationship)

Most important life-system
Most important life-game
Most important possession

#1 x (Number One x)

#1 Identity-Block
#1 Soul Quest
#1 Self-Care Practice
#1 Hero

#1 Creative Ritual
#1 Energy Ritual
#1 Flow Trigger

Biggest x

Biggest Strength
Biggest Weakness
Biggest Obstacle

Favorite x

Favorite type of Flow
Favorite Book

Favorite Place

I have a special document with the questionnaire. Whenever I come up with a new question, I add it to the document.”

On Learning 3

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“On my Quest to master Learning, I set to reading every book about it. Well, not quite every book. I’m focusing on identifying the 20%.

As I’m reading about learning, I’m also practicing Meta-Learning (learning how to learn).”

“Can you give an example?”

“I’m currently reading Jim Kwik’s beautiful book Limitless. In the book, Jim outlines his learning framework, which has the acronym FASTER.


Forget refers to eliminating distractions, upgrading your learning mindset by forgetting about your perceived limitations, and suspending what you think you know about the topic, approaching it with a beginner’s mind.

Act refers to approaching learning actively, as opposed to passively.

A really big idea in the book is that,

All learning is state dependent.

State refers to getting yourself in an optimal state for learning, an energized state of curiosity and excitement.

Teach refers to learning with the intention of teaching it to someone else.

Enter refers to making time for learning by scheduling it in your calendar.

Review refers to learning by testing yourself on your acquired knowledge (active recall) over multiple spread-out sessions (spaced repetition). 

The framework itself is not important. Any framework is just one perspective. What’s important are the principles. By extracting the principles, you can integrate them into your own framework.

For instance, scheduling and eliminating distractions, while important life skills, are not learning-specific.”

“What are the principles here?”

Learning Mindset [Related: Learning as Primary Value, Belief System, Belief Optimization, Limiting Beliefs, Empowering Beliefs]

Optimal State [Playfulness, Curiosity, Fun, Excitement, Joy, Pleasure, Priming Ritual]

Beginner’s Mind [Emptying the Cup, Humility, ‘I don’t know‘]

Active Learning [Deep Engagement, Creative Learning]

Learning by Teaching [Feynman Technique, Brevity, Simple Language, Images, Analogies, Diagrams]

Active Recall / Spaced Repetition [Testing, Forgetting Curve]

Learning Mindset refers to learning as a value, and to your beliefs around learning. The practice here is turning learning into a primary value, identifying your limiting beliefs around learning and replacing them with empowering beliefs.

Optimal State is the practice of consistently activating the state. For instance by creating a pre-learning priming ritual which energizes you and activates the Learning Mindset. As someone put it,

You must be in a state of questing for knowledge.

Activating the Beginner’s Mind could also be part of the ritual, putting yourself in a state of openness and receptivity.

Active Learning refers to your level of engagement in the learning. Engaging in it as a creative act, rather than as an observer sport.

Learning by Teaching refers to explaining it in simple terms, as if to someone who knew nothing about the subject, by employing analogies, images, or diagrams.

Active Recall / Spaced Repetition refer to setting up a system for reviewing what you learned to maximize retention.

I like to think of learning as a system. These are some of the components of it. As I see it, learning is not just about acquiring knowledge, but also about constantly optimizing the learning system itself.”

On Learning and Models 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Learning?”

“By looking at it through various lenses [<link; medium length], you get a more nuanced view.

We can look at it through the lens of Behavior.

There’s a quote I love which I know from Eben Pagan (one of my Heroes):

Learning is behavior change.

For me, this expresses a fundamental principle of Learning, and acts as a filter for the kinds of books I read. 

We can look at it through the lens of Skill.

We could say,

Learning is skill-acquisition.

Acquiring new skills allows you to do things you could not do before. More skills, more options.

We can look at it through the lens of the Tool.

We could say,

Learning is model-acquisition.

There’s a kind of mental models that can be practically used to make better decisions and solve problems. I call them instrumental-models.”

“Something like the Pareto Principle (80/20)?”


Among instrumental-models, there’s a subset that can be used in a very wide variety of situations – like the Pareto Principle you mentioned.”

“About 20% of them?”

“Very likely.

In their book Super Thinking, Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann call this kind of models super-models

We can look at it through the lens of the Map.

We could say,

Learning is model-updating.

We all have our own model – or map – of reality, which is made up of a myriad of smaller models. I call our reality-model subjective reality. Through Learning we are endlessly updating and refining our reality-model.

We can look at it through the lens of Possibility.

There’s a quote I love from Scott H. Young (another one of my Heroes):

Happiness is not pleasure. Happiness is the expansion of possibility.

Likewise, we could say,

Learning is the expansion of possibility.

That’s the ultimate goal of it.”

Optimal Reading

Read books like magazines.

When we pick up a magazine, we don’t feel guilty if we don’t read every page or if we just do a 5-minute reading spurt. Instead, we often skim to find the most interesting and relevant articles and then go deep and slow on those.

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Don’t you miss out if you read books like magazines?”

“Depends what and why you read.

I like to make a distinction between vertical reading and horizontal reading.

Vertical reading refers to how deep you go into a book – and how much of a book you read.

Horizontal reading refers to how many books you read.

If you read non-fiction and you read to Learn, the optimal approach is to increase horizontal reading and decrease vertical reading.

The Pareto Principle (80/20) applies to reading as well. In every book you read, there’s a number of ideas of interest to you. Of those, only 20% are the real gems – I call those the essential 20. The goal of optimal reading is to discover the essential 20 in as short a time as possible and ignore everything else.

There’s zero value in finishing a book. The real value is in finding the essential 20 and going deep on those.

At a Macro level, optimal reading means learning the essential 20 from a very large number of books.

It’s better to learn the essential 20 from 1000 books, than to finish 500 books.”

“Aren’t some books worth rereading?”

“Some are. About 20% of them.”

Experience Design 2

The ultimate goal of the Designer is to deliver an Experience.

The game is not the experience. The game enables the experience, but it is not the experience. The experience rises out of the game. Ultimately, a game designer does not care about games. Games are merely a means to an end.

(Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you mean by experience design?”

“I see my life as a beautiful modular Game, which is made up of a myriad of smaller life-games. I call it The Beautiful Game [<link; medium length]. 

The Beautiful Game is both a Game and a Meta-Game. I am both the Player and the Game Designer [<link; short].
As the Player, I’m playing the Game.
As the Designer, I’m playing the Meta-Game. 

Experience design is part of the Meta-Game. It’s a meaningful framework for creating experiences.”

“What is the essence of experience design?”

“There are two essential aspects to it:
Selecting Experiences
Beautifying Experiences

Selecting has to do with being selective, choosing the 20% most meaningful and enriching experiences you could possibly have – I call them the precious 20, in contrast with the lackluster 80 – and designing your life around them. 

By default, we do the lackluster 80 most of the time and the precious 20 from time to time. I say we reverse that, do the precious 20 most of the time and the lackluster 80 from time to time.”

“That’s very hard to do.”

“It’s not easy, but it’s something worth striving for.

Beautifying has to do with making the most of and enriching ANY experience you have.

You might think of the former as the Macro, and the latter as the Micro.

Fundamentally, experience design is the process of creating and (efficiently) using specific mental tools for achieving those ends.”

“How do you beautify an experience?”

“There are two aspects to the process:
Attention-directing [<link; medium]

In practical terms, you can beautify an experience in two ways:
(1) By viewing it through a filter of Meaning.
(2) By increasing its Richness through making it Embodied and involving all senses: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory, Gustatory (VAKOG).

As concerns (1), I’m referring to two lenses [<link; medium] in particular:
– a model I call Foreground/Background [<link; medium]

Values refers to a synergistic selection / stack of what I call instrumental Values, Values which, through directing Attention, have a practical effect in the moment. For me, those are:

Loving Play [<link; short]
Beauty [<link; short]

All these combined have an expansive emotional flooding effect.

Foreground/Background refers to metaphorically viewing the Micro experience – the foreground – against the Macro background-story of your life. For instance, I see my life as the Beautiful Game, which means every single experience is part of the Game. I actually say to myself:

This too is the Beautiful Game.

As concerns (2), you can metaphorically think of it as savoring.”

“A bit like how wine tasters savor their chosen experience?”

“Yes. However, unlike wine tasters, not limited to a very narrow range of experience. Developing the capacity to savor and find the Beauty in ANY experience.”

“Even highly unpleasant ones?”

“That’s that highest end of it.”

Learning Optimization

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Passing all the notes I take through the 80/20 filter [<link; medium read] was a really good idea.

Are you actually reading the 80 notes?

Not really. There’s too many notes, so I mostly go through the 20 ones.

“What if you eliminated the 80 entirely?”

What if some day I discover some gems among them?

For that to happen, you’d have to actually go through them, which you admitted you do not.

I may someday.

‘I may someday’ is a flimsy foundation to base your decisions on. That sounds more like FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) speaking.

My point is, saving all those 80 notes comes with an opportunity cost.

All that time you spend saving them.
All that time you spend rereading them (if you ever do) in the hope you may discover some gems among them.

All that time could be better spent saving more 20 notes.

Sounds so obvious now that you mentioned it.

The Universe of Possibility is hiding in plain sight my dear.

On Magic and Implementation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I optimize Implementation?”

“One of the keys to improving Thinking is the capacity to retrieve the information stored in your mind. I call this accessing. To a large extent, accessing depends on organization, how the information is structured in your mind.

How the information is structured globally, that is, how interconnected the information is. (Interconnectedness)
How the information is structured locally, that is, how much information can be retrieved at once. (Chunking)”

“What has this got to do with Implementation?”

“Implementation also depends on information retrieval. Whatever you want to implement is essentially a sequence of steps – an algorithm

Let’s take Centering as an example. What are the components of your practice?”

“Connecting with myself, Breathing, Aligning (Posture), Opening / Expanding, Relaxing, Smiling… and I can think of a few more.”

“Which are the most important? Think 80/20.”

“The first two.”

“So breathing, and feeling your[self as the] BodyMind.

Chunking essentially means meaningfully condensing information. You could reduce the practice to just two steps.

Breathe / Expand
Feel / Let go

As you breathe in, you naturally expand. This is a beautiful embodied reminder
A reminder to physically expand vertically, to stand tall, extend your spine.
A reminder to physically expand in all directions, to take up more space, adopt an expansive (power) pose.
A reminder to expand your Awareness, to your entire field of vision, and to use all senses.
A reminder to expand metaphorically, to open your MindHeart, be more receptive.

As you lovingly feel your beautiful BodyMind, you’ll naturally notice tension. This is a beautiful embodied reminder to let go. As you let go of tension (what I call detensing), relaxation and smiling naturally follow.

This is chunking in action. I’ve condensed the algorithm to only two meaningful steps.

Besides the algorithm, Implementation has another component: representations [<link; medium length]. How you mentally represent the practice to yourself. This makes it more meaningful. For instance you might represent the Centering practice as Homecoming – coming home to yourself.

The algorithm and the representation are two distinct chunks. You can integrate them together through metaphor. For instance, since you love Magic the Gathering, you can think of them as a Magic card. 

The algorithm is the text of the card, describing what it does.
The representation is the image of the card, making it more memorable.”