So many professionals believe the more hours they put in and the later they stay at work, the more successful they will be.
Ericsson and his team evaluated a group of musicians to find out what the “excellent” players were doing differently, and discovered that they were working harder in shorter bursts of time.
For instance, violinists who practiced more deliberately, say for four hours, accomplished more than others who slaved away for seven hours. The best performers set goals for their practice sessions and required themselves to take breaks.
Looking at the chart, you can see that the best violin students practiced with greater intensity just before the lunch hour and then took a break before starting up again at 4 p.m. — whereas the other students practiced more steadily throughout the entire day.
The researchers found that successful people in other professions had similar habits:
“While completing a novel, famous authors tend to write only for four 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 optimise their productivity, limit their most important intellectual activity to a fixed daily amount when working on projects requiring long periods of time to complete.”
Tim Ferriss gives similar advice in his New York Times bestseller, “The 4-Hour Workweek.” He stresses the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 law, which is that 80% of outputs come from 20% of inputs. So stay focused, and you’ll do more in less time.
This is an updated article originally written by Aimee Groth.
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