Time management tips help you to excel in the activities that matter most to you. In fact, the science and art of deliberate practice can transform your life.
Happily, you do not have to possess unusual talent to be remarkably effective! Instead, you merely need to practice wisely, using deliberate practice.
What is deliberate practice? The key seems to be the quality of attention you give to the work, and precisely how you focus your energies.
Am I Practicing Enough?
Performance Psychologist Noa Kageyama, Ph.D. writes of his own experience on The Creativity Post. He shares his experience as an aspiring violinist who was plagued with concerns whether he practiced enough.
“… I scoured books and interviews with great artists, looking for a consensus on practice time that would ease my conscience. I read an interview with Rubinstein, in which he stated that nobody should have to practice more than four hours a day. He explained that if you needed that much time, you probably weren’t doing it right.
And then there was violinist Nathan Milstein who once asked his teacher Leopold Auer how many hours a day he should be practicing. Auer responded by saying, “Practice with your fingers and you need all day. Practice with your mind and you will do as much in 1 1/2 hours.”
Full Immersion Experience
When you engage in deliberate, mindful practice, you immerse yourself in what you are doing. In fact, you are concentrating so deeply that it is the moment that matters, not the long-range goal. Whatever might have distracted you – worries, resistance, distractions, or competition – is set aside. You are at one with what you are doing.
Stay With What’s Hardest
Another essential component of deliberate practice is that you hone in on the portion of the activity that you find the most difficult. Author Geoff Colvin explores this in his book, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.
Whether you play a violin or work to master a difficult maneuver in sports, the formula is the same. You progress fastest when you resist the temptation to merely ‘run through’ an entire sequence. Instead, focus on your problem area, minutely observing what stands between you and your best performance.
How Long Is Too Long?
This level of concentration demands a lot of energy! It might be quite difficult to maintain this degree of focus for more than two to four hours, depending on the energy required and your level of stamina. So resting after such an outlay gives you time to assimilate what you’ve learned and to transition to your next activity.
This isn’t to say that there’s no point in devoting much time in pursuit of excellence. When students at a music conservatory were rated by their proficiency, those that had logged the most hours practicing each week excelled. After an intense bout of practice, rest. But practice consistently! And consider returning to your focused rehearsal later in the day for another session.
The Rewards Of Deliberate Practice
Perhaps the prospect of remaining with what you struggle with the most makes you want to back off. Is it really worth it? Well, remember: each hour of practice rewards you more because you progress faster.
So rather than spin your wheels aimlessly by repeating activities in an unfocused way, give deliberate practice a try. You’ll enjoy remarkable results, and experience the pleasure of working with time instead of against time!© Copyright 2014 Paula Eder, Ph.D.