80/20 Principle for students.

I love the 80/20 Principle (also known as Pareto's Principle, named after the creator). This principle simply states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. This is fantastic for students to apply.

Most Universities and TAFE Colleges in Australia have percentages set so that a High Distinction may be obtained at 80% of total marks for an assessment, and for a class. What this means is that any extra percentage after 80% will still be marked as a high distinction, as opposed to receiving a higher grading.

My question is this: If I can achieve a high distinction at 80%, why should I work toward a much higher result, when it would take so much more time to do so? Ultimately there is no difference in the mark at the end of the day.

This principle can also be applied to the method in which we study. For example: 20% of assessments are going to require 80% of my study time to receive a high distinction, and should be managed accordingly. 80% of my time spent studying can be eliminated by listening in class and by applying the information used in my assessments (at my university, it is expected that one hour of class will need three hours of study behind it, or more). 20% of my time invested in studying for an exam will allow for a retention level of information at 80%, etc.

Other techniques I recommend students doing to be successful in their study life is as follows:
  • Create an assessment due date timeline in Excel ( including percentage of marks, what class, due dates, etc.) at the beginning of the semester.
  • Prepare presentations closer to the deadline, so that they are fresh in your memory.
  • When doing presentations, keep all points on the slides to one line each. Use Guy Kawasaki's 20/10/30 method (20 minute presentation, 10 slides maximum, no smaller than size 30 font).
  • Always create a format for your report in word before filling in the spaces. This will allow you to determine what you intend to cover, allowing word limits for various sections while also creating a nice presentable layout which will improve overall clarity.
  • Find a hobby in relation to your study to develop rapid learning ability. For me this is reading books on business and investing. For a student in sport, this might involve taking up a sport or getting involved in a group of people who regularly participate in sport.
All the best in your studies.

My Top Five Business Books

Photo courtesy of Dawn Endico

Everyone is involved in business within their life, whether they acknowledge it or not. You might be working for a business, own a business, run the business of your life or tell others to mind their own business, but business is still part of everyday life in western society.

I used to recommend multiple books for reading (and still do recommend other books for that matter) in relation to business and investing. I have found however, that the following five business/investing books seem to have provided me with the majority of the information I have needed to point me in the right direction:

Think and Grow Rich

Cashflow Quadrant: Rich Dad's Guide to Financial Freedom

How to Win Friends & Influence People

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

The Richest Man in Babylon

How to make wise choices plus a little on pre-destination

Photo courtesy of tastygoldfish

A few weeks ago in an entrepreneurship lecture I was a part of at university, one of my teachers was giving us some tips that had been passed onto him by some of his lecturers while he was undertaking his Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEI). One of these points was as follows:

'It's in the nature of things to change, without change their is no choice, without choice their is no freedom.'

This statement is is true. For example: when the car was invented, people had a choice to continue using the old modes of transportation or to begin using the newer, fast methods that had been implemented. Freedom cannot be exercised without the option to choose to follow or not to follow something.

One of the interesting topics surrounding Christianity is pre-destination. The debate is something like this: God has elected certain people to be saved, but people have the choice to choose whether to accept or reject God. God knows who will choose to acknowledge him and those that will not.

Now without trying to express any opinions on the matter it is interesting to note that as we change as individuals we can choose the way we view various religions, people, politics, opinions, facts and much more. This is freedom at it's utmost. Could it be that by choosing to embrace or reject certain things in life we ultimately miss opportunities that could benefit us in a great way?

Regardless of the choices we make, it can help to assess the facts before we make a decision as to what we choose to believe on any topic. There are a number of ways we can make wise choices, and the following tips is a great way to start:

  1. Determine and assess the options: Make sure you have all possible ways of moving forward laid out in front of you, along with the benefits and issues associated with undertaking each one.
  2. Seek wise council: Make sure you seek the advice of mentors within your network, and ask for their unbiased opinion on the options. Having an outside opinion can always assist in the process.
  3. Pick the best option: The option that is most suited to your current position and goals.
  4. Follow through until completion: Never back down on a decision once you have made it. If it turns out to be a wrong decision later down the track then change course, but don't keep procrastinating once reaching to a decision.
  5. Monitor the consequences: You have the choice to change the way you walk down the path if it seems as though things are not going as anticipated. Monitoring your decisions closely will help you to know if and when you need to make a choice to change things from how they are.

Minimising fear in the current market.

Photo courtesy of extranoise

Yesterday I attended church to hear the second of four sermons on fear. I am a firm believer that fear is really just an acronym for "False Expectations Appearing Real" and that we are all able to overcome fears that we face. An example I have seen of this in my own life was being able to overcome my fear of dogs (after being bitten by one at a young age). I ended up having one of my own and loved it.

During the sermon the pastor mentioned that in order to prevent worry and fear in our lives we need to focus on our identity. Our identity is compiled from understanding who we were in our past, how we have been shaped into who we are, and who we are today.

By having a strong understanding of our identity we can then focus on our purpose in life. I am a strong believer that if we are still alive we still have a purpose, and that purpose is greater and will not be altered by the course of any stock market crash, recession, depression, ill health or any other obstacle life throws our way.

It is important that our identity is not tied up in things that are tangible. If our identity is in our friends, and those friends die or drop out of touch, then we will lose a part of our identity. If our identity is focused on money and we lose money, we may lose part of ourselves. To overcome this, we as individuals should focus on developing our identity in God, who is infallible but less tangible. By doing so we can be assured that while obstacles might get in our way, our identity and purpose in life will remain secure.

What do you have your identity in? If your primary sense of identity is only money or friends or things, how will this affect your state of being long term?