I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It does not matter how much time you spend doing something if you can’t focus.
About 5 years ago I purchased a book by Neil Fiore, fantastic book, called “Conquering Procrastination” It took me years to get myself to read it.
Yes I procrastinated reading a book about not procrastinating, the irony.
There are some fantastic exercises and ideas portrayed in this book, the one you can find all over the internet is the Unschedule, it’s a schedule where you write all the stuff you want to do AFTER you are done working and you start with that. It helps fight the anxiety that you will be working all the time and not have time to yourself, and it helps your mind focus.
But one of the things that I haven’t found people talking about online, was a rather substantial part of the book, the part that talked about FOCUS.
In his book, Dr. Neil Fiore explains and demonstrates that you could write a book, learn a different language, play a new instrument, with only 3 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week in the period of a year. That doesn’t seem that hard right? It sounds impossible, sounds like it would take more time.
The key to this 3 hour practice is FOCUS, I’ve said it a thousand times, it doesn’t matter if you practice 20 hours per day if you are not doing Deliberate Practice, not just that, it has to be focused deliberate practice, you need to Focus on the Focus.
Do people really work 8 hours a day?
Think about it, people go to work for about 8 hours. They get there at 8am, they warm up, they look at their emails and waste time, after that they go and chat with some people, look at facebook (if it’s allowed) and they probably get to start working around 9:30, then they probably stop around 11 or get interrupted by co-workers. Then there’s lunch, water breaks, smoke breaks, and wasting more time until the clock points to the number 5 and they are gone.
Did they really work 8 hours? They went to the place where they commute for 8 hours but probably only did 2 to 3 hours of effective FOCUSED work. So the theory behind all of this is managing to set aside some time to work this 3 hours, no stopping, no distractions. If I remember correctly the book taught you to work in intervals of 30 minutes, if you picked the phone during this time, you couldn’t mark it as focused work, if you checked your email it didn’t count as focused work.
I tried this, the 30 hour mark didn’t work for me, it takes me longer than that to get the ball rolling and I can’t stop 30 minutes after that, so I do it in intervals of 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remember you have to give yourself small break, I used to think that the breaks were not needed but I was wrong, seriously, you’ll burn out if you don’t stop to even go get some water. So unless you’re feeling really inspired try to take a small 5 min break away from what you are doing.
Focus on the Focus
When I was younger I got this weird urge to play the guitar, I didn’t really like the guitar or playing an instrument, I just liked the idea of playing the guitar and being awesome. So because my nature is always to do some research prior to doing whatever I am doing, I picked up some books about it. One of these books was called “Perfect Practice” I don’t recall the actual title of the book or author (I am sorry I lost these books).
The book told the story of the author, a really good guitar player and how his life changed when he met the best player in the world, to his shock, he asked the best player how many hours a day did he practice and the answer was 3, the Author couldn’t believe it because he practiced 6 to 8 hours a day. So he started doing a research about practice.The idea behind his boook was to do what the author called Perfect Practice, it was a deliberate practice where he was 100% FOCUSED on everything, the position of the hand, the music, the position of the neck, the legs, everything. He said that if you did this right, you wouldn’t be able to practice more than 3 hours because you’d end up exhausted.
It’s hard, I know, but I believe it’s what makes the difference between mediocrity and mastery.
Time is the only thing we can’t get back
Think about it.
For some reason, lately I have been unstoppable and lost all anxiety of working. I still procrastinate from time to time, but I just can’t waste time anymore, I went from avoiding work and being anxious to losing my free time, to now wanting to have more time so I can work more on more stuff! I want more time so I can teach myself Zbrush, Modo, oil painting, sculpture, maybe start my own IP project, who knows?!
This happened when I started to reprogram my brain and instead of saying I HAVE to do something, I now tell myself I WANT to do it. After a while of doing that, now I can use whatever word I want because it’s no longer about what I say but what I feel.
I want to give you some helpful piece of information. It takes about 23 minutes on average to focus on something, and every time you get interrupted you have to start all over again. So every time you get interrupted for 7 minutes you are actually losing about 30 minutes of FOCUSED WORK. I can’t stress the importance of setting some time apart to do the stuff you need to do, to be able to focus 100% and do your Focus Deliberate practice. Sean Wes has an excellent podcast about Deliberate Practice that I really encourage you to hear > Sean Wes Getting better on Purpose with Deliberate Practice.
So focus on the focus, focus on being focused and go do what your heart tells you to do.