The 85% rule

Issue #4

Was listening to the episode of “Tim Ferriss show with Hugh Jackman”. Hugh Jackman had mentioned about a particular rule called “the 85% rule” which is being followed by many athletes and also said that it is applicable in other fields too. So let us see what is this 85% rule.

The 85% rule defines the importance of working at 85% of our total capacity. This rule puts forward the theory that working at 85% of ones capability maximizes ones efficiency. It discourages the idea of working at full capacity as it does more harm than good.

Practicing this rule helps in a steady workflow and does not affect our physical or mental state. It also states that we engage ourselves in those tasks that are neither too easy nor too hard. Hence designing any problem following this 85% rule makes it interesting and enjoyable to solve.

Pressurizing oneself to achieve the results does not always increase our throughput.

The story of Carl Lewis sprinter is an example for this. He always used to lag behind other sprinters during the first 40-50m of a 100m race, but somehow secured first place at the end of the race. All thought that he was a slow starter and gained pace thereafter. But that was not the case. He was successful because at 40-50m, his breathe rate and condition were exactly the same as at the start. So he won while others pressurized themselves to win the race. Using his 85 % of his capacity helped him run with more relaxation and helped to optimize the muscles in an efficient way.

Athletes and other sportsperson do not think too much about an upcoming event, just to make sure that they are relaxed. Good results come more often when we are calm and relaxed.

It was considered to study the effect of training accuracy on learning rate in binary classification tasks. More info here. It was observed that the rate of learning is maximized when the difficulty of training is adjusted to keep the training accuracy at around 85%.


Here are some of the insightful tweets I came across after the last issue :)

👉This thread by Oliver clearly explains about Proof-Of-Work algorithm. Please give it a read.

👉Came across this “momentumdash” chrome extension from Pauline’s tweet. Will soon try it.

👉Prashant explains the difference between Bagging and Random Forests.

👉The Most useful razors and rules shared by Jelle.


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