LEARNING HACK #13: Work smart, rather than hard

This post is part of a series challenging our assumptions about learning techniques. We’re giving you up to date information from current research into learning to help you learn effectively. Check out the previous post in this series and read the most recent one below.

It is possible to put in 20% of the work and still get 80%+ of the results.


Work smart, then work hard. As we’ve established so far, working hard and putting in effort is vital to academic success. Nevertheless, the Pareto Principle informs us that it is possible to achieve an ’80:20 rule’ by focusing on being effective first.

Person A takes 10 steps to learn something. Person B takes 10 steps to learn something. At face value, these people are learning at the same speed. However, because Person B is working smart as well as working hard, those 10 steps go much further. Person A is learning ineffectively, so those 10 steps will need to be repeated over and over to retain the level that Person B achieved first time around.

Want to read more on this topic? Check out these links:

  1. How to Learn a New Skill Quickly: A 4-Step Process (Video)
  2. Pareto principle (Wikipedia)
  3. Understanding the 80/20 rule

What is Up Learn? Up Learn uses artificial intelligence and research from cognitive science to help students achieve A* results. Find out more.

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