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How To Hack Life Using The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule states that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of all causes for any given event.

I first learned about this concept during economics class in junior college.

Didn’t give it much thought as I was still a student.

But as I entered adult life, especially in my business journey, I started to see how true this concept is.

80/20 rule in business

When I first started to expand my music education business – specifically the workshops, we had a total of 5 different workshops.

Piano, guitar, ukulele, cajon, and a drum kit workshop.

I spent up to $15k a month on ads to fill those workshops up. 

Some workshops were profitable and some were not.

The Cajon workshop (a percussion instrument) was particularly tough to fill.

I could fill a class of 15 pax, but the cost to acquire each student was way more than what they paid for the class.

Which didn’t make sense, as it meant I was losing money on the front end.

Yet, for the piano and guitar workshops, it was always easier to fill the class. Especially for the piano workshop.

People who signed up for the piano class, bought packages, bought more products and spent more money overall.

Needless to say, the piano workshop (1 out of the 5, which is 20%) was pulling in almost 80% of the revenue.

Knowing that, I doubled down on what we could offer to our piano students.

From physical courses, to digital courses, to 2 different types of pianos we’re selling.

Today, my piano products are still selling well.

80/20 in business skills

If you ever started your own business before, you’d know that you virtually have to do everything at the start.

I was the music instructor, the procurement guy, the trainer, the marketer, the face-to-face sales person.

In the marketing aspect,  I had to create content, build the website, think of what and when to post on social media, run ads, write sales pages.

But I realise the skill that really helped to bring in the money was running ads. And running ads required me to learn copywriting.

I never looked back upon discovering that. 

From 2019 to 2021 I dived deep into Facebook/Instagram ads + copywriting.

And the efforts are still paying off today.

My ad campaigns are still running on autopilot.

The sales pages I wrote are still bringing in the sales.

Today, the only marketing stuff I still personally handle are my ads and the writing of copy.

Whereas for website designs, creating of images/videos and online customer service, I now have a team to support.

80/20 in wellness

Somewhere around 2020, I dedicated 1 day a week to exercise. 

I wasn’t very consistent but wanted to just start anyway.

2022 was the year where I swam at least once per week, 20 laps each time. 

Notice how it’s 20% again. (1 out of 5 workdays) 

I don’t workout on weekends as it’s mostly family time.

What happened as I started becoming consistent with my swims was that I felt more alert mentally, on top of being physically more fit.

The wake up call (to start exercising) came when my first kid was born. As I squatted down to play with him, I had difficulty standing up effortlessly. I was only 32 years old lol.

That led me to start swimming once a week.

Didn’t expect that the biggest benefit out of it was that it helped to give me a lot of mental clarity.

Brain fog is real. Negative thoughts are real. 

And exercising regularly helped me get rid of them. 

Business targets became clearer. 

Important tasks that had to be done were also clear.

This led me to write my eBook and start my coaching business which allowed me to impact many more business owners through my skills.

And I totally credit it to being consistent with my exercise.

That was only 20% of a working week spent working out.

As of 2024, I have since doubled down on my workouts.

I added a gym session before my swim, and I do it at least twice a week now.

Ideally I’m aiming for 3x a week, but for now, the bare minimum is twice.

My little tip on building habits like this – start small and start with something sustainable.

Then see how it works out for you and slowly increase it.

But my point here is, I noticed how exercising positively impacted my life.

The 20% effort put into working out has given me an 80% return in the wellness of my life.

I’m 2 weeks into my gym sessions, and now my back doesn’t hurt as much anymore after each weekend.

(I carry my kids a lot during weekends and it usually gives me bad backaches)

80/20 in Facebook ads

If you run ads like me, and sometimes you get really bad performance…

You’ll realise that the 20% thing you need to change to get 80% of your results is your hook, specifically the first sentence of what you write in your ad copy.

This is assuming you already have an offer that is doing okay and suddenly see a drop in performance.

If this happens, change your hook, change the first 3s of your video creative, and you will see a lift in performance.

80/20 in gaining new knowledge

I consume quite a lot of content daily. 

Aside from the mindless surfing on FB/IG to watch nonsensical stuff…

I do read stuff in Facebook groups to gain new knowledge.

I also gain insights by joining a few email newsletters by other entrepreneurs.

Sometimes I get cool info from Instagram as well (parenting advice).

But I realise that the best mode of content I consume which gives me the biggest impact is reading a physical book.

Nothing beats that.

Knowledge gets absorbed and retained a lot better.

And this allows me to better apply what I’ve learned from reading.

That’s why I try to set aside 30 mins a day to read. 

They are usually books on business, marketing (and lately nutrition).

I know this 30 mins (way less than 20% of time per day) is going to make a huge impact in my overall life.

If you want to hack your life using the 80/20 rule…

It’s really about finding out the 20% of input that is giving 80% of the output, in the various aspects of your life.

And then do more of the 20% input.

As you’ve seen, I categorised it into business, physical+mental wellness, work (running ads), and learning new knowledge.

First find out which aspects of your life you want to “hack”.

Then find the 20% that has been giving you 80% of the results.

And double down on them.

May we all achieve greater efficiency at work, life, and everything else that’s important to us.

Who Is Edmund Chew?

I own a 7-figure music education company called TravelClef. I help fellow business owners scale their business using paid ads. I’m obsessed with marketing and entrepreneurship.

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I dive deep into online marketing and business so you can grow to the next level.