The trick is staying focused. Ericsson and his team evaluated a group of musicians to find out what the “excellent” players were doing differently. They found that violinists who practiced more deliberately, say for 4 hours, accomplished more than others who slaved away for 7 hours. The best performers set goals for their practice sessions and required themselves to take breaks.
The researchers found that successful people in other professions had similar habits:
“While completing a novel, famous authors tend to write only for 4 hours during the morning, leaving the rest of the day for rest and recuperation. Hence successful authors, who can control their work habits and are motivated to optimize their productivity, limit their most important intellectual activity to a fixed daily amount when working on projects requiring long periods of time to complete.”
Interesting to note: this was based on the same classic “Deliberate Practice” study I’ve mentioned before. Well worth a look.
Question: How applicable are these examples to the average worker? Many jobs these days aren’t analogous to an artist quietly toiling away for hours; they’re more like a relentless stream of interruptions. For more on this check out what Jason Fried has to say here and here.
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