Accomplish more in the same amount of time? We’re told we have to work hard and put in a lot of hours and dedication to succeed. But what if hard work doesn’t have to be so time consuming? And What if working long hours works against you?
Hear George and Mary-Lynn share insights from a study that shows how to accomplish more in the same amount of time on The BIGG Success Show podcast. Click the player to listen. Here’s a summary of that discussion…
A study on practice habits
A study conducted in Berlin looked at the practice habits of violinists. In the publication, The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance, researchers looked at the difference between the elite performers and their counterparts.
Cal Newport, assistant professor at Georgetown University, broke down the study results.
- Both the elite and average performers spent about the same amount of time practicing per week.
- The elite performers tended to consolidate their work, while the average group spread their work throughout the day.
- The elite performers spent more time on deliberate practice – the kind that stretches your abilities – than the average group.
The elite accomplish more
The elite performers consolidated their work into dedicated time blocks, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. Because of that, they slept an hour more per night than the average players. They were more rested and relaxed, while the average group lost more sleep and had more stress.
By spending time working on deliberate practice, the elite players were able to optimize improvement, and achieve an advanced level of skill compared to the average group. Essentially, through more focused practice, elite group performers were able to accomplish more in the same amount of time!
BIGG Tip: Do your most intensive work in time blocks, then get away from it. Research shows when we escape from work by taking up a hobby, our mind enters a flow state that leaves us feeling reinvigorated. Engaging in activities like this will actually help you achieve the same kind of flow when working on complex projects.
A closer look at deliberate practice
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, describes deliberate practice this way:
“While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.”
Clear shares the story of Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers in the 20th century. Hogan practiced all the time. He did it with strategy, by breaking the game down in chunks so he could learn to master each one.
George shares his own golf story. Click the player to hear it starting at 5:29.
Here’s another example from Aubrey Daniels, Ph.D., a thought leader and expert on management. In an article on expert performance, he compares the practice of two basketball players.
“Player A shoots 200 practice shots, Player B shoots 50. The Player B retrieves his own shots, dribbles leisurely and takes several breaks to talk to friends. Player A has a colleague who retrieves the ball after each attempt. The colleague keeps a record of shots made. If the shot is missed the colleague records whether the miss was short, long, left or right and the shooter reviews the results after every 10 minutes of practice.”
Which one do you think will accomplish more in the same amount of time?
Be more deliberate
How can we apply this to our lives so that we’re accomplishing more in the same amount of time? Here are 5 ways…
If you don’t have a goal, you have no direction, you have no destination, you have nothing. Think back to school, how would you have done if you had no due dates? Probably not very well, because due dates help us get things done. That’s what goals do. Goals are like dreams with deadlines, dreams with due dates.
We always tell people to test, track, and tweak. You have to test different things, track the results, and determine how to improve the outcome.
When doing deliberate work, you need to be completely focused on the task at hand. Turn off notifications on your phone, tablet, laptop, watch, or anything else that can interrupt your concentration.
Be intentional with your time
To be intentional is to understand your why. When there’s a “why” attached to that goal, it makes it a whole lot easier on those days when you just don’t feel like doing it, to not let your emotions take over. Your why helps you plow through and get it done.
This includes a compilation of the results you’ve been measuring, or feedback from a coach, colleague, customer, boss. Seek ways to get constructive criticism that will help you stretch and grow.
Each of us can improve our performance without needing more hours in a day. By focusing on the right things, we can accomplish more in the same amount of time. It leads to BIGG Success!
Here’s to your BIGG success!
George “The Professor” & Mary-Lynn
Co-Founders, BIGG Success
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