80/20 Python & Garden Peas

The Birth of the Pareto Principle

The seed of the 80/20 principle germinated, of all places, in an Italian pea garden. It was peahere that the economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that only a ‘vital few’ of the pea pods in his garden produced the majority of peas. He went on to use this principle to demonstrate that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.


I believe there is truth in the maxim

 how you do anything is how you do everything

Ever since applying the 80/20 rule to language learning I frequently view the world through this lens.

Python 80/20 in action

When I learn something new I start by reading around the topic and taking some online courses. Usually these courses are short and free, but not always. This period could last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the difficulty of the topic, how natural it comes to me and my current level of knowledge in it. For Python, I spent about 3 months before I made my 80% decision. Generally I will spend enough time to catch a glimpse of the ‘bigger picture’, I then look to focus about 80% of my learning on one resource. The other 20% is divided among a handful of other resources, that alternate and change as my level of knowledge increases.

80% ‘in’ is often a wiser move than ‘all in’

For the sake of clarity, 80/20 isn’t an exact measurement, it is a quick and relatively accurate ratio. Our brains are hardwired to make sense of the world through generalisations. If our brains were incapable of doing this, then the world would appear to be a much more difficult and scary place for us to live in. Instead of using this mechanism to ingrain stereotypes deeper into my head, I have chosen to leverage this innate capacity, when I scan the world with 80/20 goggles on.

The main reason I don’t go ‘all in’ on a single resource is that I find that this approach often leaves me ‘blinkered’. Even if I have the best mentor in the world, he/she is only human, and humans can only experience their own thinking no matter how hard we may try. Therefore, even if he/she is Six Sigma gold and makes a handful of mistakes per million, that could still be a few mistakes more than I may need to personally make.

I also believe that when I have a narrow focus of  attention on one single person or area, it leaves me wide open to becoming a victim of a dogmatic approach. What I look for in a good mentor is that they not only encourage me to use my common sense but they also recommend resources that they have found valuable themselves. This demonstrates that they are a team player and that they are doing the best they possibly can to help their students.

My 80/20 Python Plan

My goal for learning Python is to become a more effective problem solver, create personal projects, freelance and potentially become a Software Developer. With these goals in mind, I have included the below table of my 80/20 learning plan. My learning is centered around Clever Programmer because the platform is in alignment with my personal goals.

80 20
Cleverprogrammer SoloLearn
Project Euler
Code Fights
Talking to Friends/ Meetup Groups


Did you find this blog post useful? I am continuously looking for ways to improve on the content so that my readers have the best experience possible. If you have any insights, questions or recommendations feel free to leave a comment or drop me an e-mail.

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