80 / 20 Rule for Architecture Students

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Have you heard about the 80/20 rule? By applying the 80/20 rule to your studies, you can seriously improve your results.

What is the rule?

The 80/20 rule also known as the Pareto principle can be described as follows:

In many cases, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

What does this mean? Lets look at it in basic terms as it can get a little complicated.

You wear 20% of the clothes you own, 80% of the time!

20% of society holds 80% of the wealth.

In business it can often be said that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients or perhaps – 80% of your headaches come from 20% of your clients….80% of a company’s sales come from 20% of its products.

How can we apply it to architecture studies?

When it comes to architecture we are renowned for being perfectionists. This results in a tireless effort to achieve the perfect render, the perfect design…..especially when we are working on our studio projects. From an assignment / grade point of view, is it really worth it? Of course we should strive to be the best we can be, and aim high. Sometimes when people wonder why they are working all night long, night after night, and still only achieving a mid level grade – is it time to look at the 80/20 rule??

So, 80% of effects comes from 20% of the causes.

It is about detecting where our time and output is most valuable. Although it is important in your design project to come up with great visuals to tell the story of your design, there is no point ignoring the design process itself, and spending hours and hours on a visual trying to make up for the lacking design concept.

When approaching a new project, you need to decide what 80% of your overall grade for the project will come from 20% of your input. Simply put, you need to focus your efforts on generating the most desirable results and spend less time on doing the work that does not count.

This can apply to our overall studies. You know what each module is worth to your overall grade for the year. From this information you then know how much time you should focus on each module, in order to achieve the best results. You need to develop a plan for how you will complete your most important assignments efficiently, whilst allowing for enough time to make sure you do a sufficient amount for the remaining assignments.

Sadly, during your architecture studies, there are areas you enjoy and areas you do not. This however, cannot dictate how you spend your time. You must not for example, spend 80% of your time in one area because you enjoy it, but it is only worth 20% of your overall results. Find the balance.

So, approach your studies from a more of a mathematical perspective and you might find you can increase your productivity and your grades!

How can we apply it to our lives?

Have a think about some of these statements:

What are the 20% of your possessions you get the most value out of?

What do you spend 20% of your time doing that gives you 80% of your happiness?

Who are the 20% of people you are close to that make you the happiest?



My favourite Tools and Resources

I have curated a list of some of the tools and resources I would strongly recommend for anyone studying or working in Architecture.