Tim Gittos

I'm an Australian currently living in Austin, TX in the USA.

I currently earn a living programming, though I wouldn't call myself a programmer. If I had to attach a label to myself, I'd use the term autodidact.

I love learning, and my favorite things to learn about are programming, computer graphics, AI & machine learning, robotics, painting and creativity.

80/20 Expertise

Last updated on 09 Jan 2013

In his article “Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years” , Peter Norvig asserted that it takes around 10 years, or 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve expertise in anything. I am 28 years old, and if I’m lucky I will live until I’m around 78. Probably. Which gives me around 5 things that I can become an expert in between now and when I die. That sure doesn’t sound like much.

But what if I don’t want to become an expert? What if I just want to be OK at something, or just want to get some experience in it? Can I apply the Pareto Principle to get more bang for my time?

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. I wouldn’t be surprised if that extended to the above 10,000 hour rule. Surely someone who spent 2,000 hours practicing something would be significantly better at it than someone who had spent 0 hours on it. Granted, you wouldn’t be an expert in that activity, but you would be knowledgeable in 5 times the activities as the expert.

It’s something to keep in mind as I scramble to do as much stuff as I can.