Starting Well With The Pareto Project

So, those of you who read my blog haven't been lately! (That is unless you've read some old posts!)

That is because school started about 8 days a go and my whole life has been immersed in starting well. Getting organized. Putting things in place to help my year.

This summer, I read a lot about productivity, organizing, and goal setting. Call it part of turning 40, but these are things I've been getting.

We know that the Pareto Principal talks about the 80/20 rule. That 80 percent of our success will come from 20 per cent of people. However, I realized this summer that could 20 per cent of the issues in my room cause 80 per cent of the problems!


So, I listed — what are the 20 per cent of things that are giving me the 80 % of my success in the classroom. Then… I listed the 20% of thing that were giving me 80% of my problems.

My 20% of problems included:

  • My color laser is the only one in the school that is publicly usable and it caused many interruptions.
  • People walked behind my desk and knocked me throughout the day to get to the laser.
  • The ink cartridges stored in my room invited interruptions.
  • People seeking status updates on technology issues caused interruptions.
  • There was no way for people to add information to a technology issue without interrupting me.

What resulted was a day of constant interruptions and little irritations. And the little things make a big difference.

So, after really looking at the 20%, I created my “Pareto project” which included:

  • Moving the color laser to a place beside the door causing less interruptions.
  • Moving my desk to a T format which doesn't allow anyone to walk behind me.
  • Moving Ink Cartridges to the Office Supply area out of my room.
  • Setting up a trouble ticket tracking system on Fogbugz which let them see their updates and email updates to the trouble ticket as well as producing a timecard for the amount of time I spend on each issue.

These were things I could control. Yes, they may seem petty but they were interruptions. Now, I'm finding that attacking my 20% that are causing 80% of the problems is producing quite a big payoff. Yes, I'm still stressed and have too much to do, but I am interrupted far less and when I am it is for bigger issues.

So, ask yourself:

What are the 20% of things you do that give you 80% of the positive results in the classroom?
What are the 20% of things that cause 80% of the problems in your classroom?

Start by attacking the problems and thinking of flow and how you can remediate/ eliminate the problems.  Then, look at spending more time on what works and eliminating things that don't.

OK, gotta run spend time watching my son play in a scrimmage game at school.

Tips for minimizing teacher stress

  • Discover 10 stress-busting secrets for healthy teachers. What simple routines will help you handle the stress?
  • Simple advice for coping with stress at work.
  • Learn tips to help you deal with difficult colleagues and students (even those who "hate" you -- yes it is possible!)
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2 thoughts on “Starting Well With The Pareto Project

  1. Great post Vicki! I’ve been focusing on the 80% of the problems and not what the underlying issues. Time for me to sit down and make my own Pareto Project.

  2. This is a very interesting spin on the Pareto concept. I’d be interested to hear your take on the idea that 20% of your work amounts to 80% of your effectiveness. I’ve thought about it a lot as a teacher. Maybe I’m highly effective and more of what I do is really important. Of if it is true, then how do I find out which 20% is the efffective part?

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