Become Better At Anything Through Deliberate Practice

Deliberate practice is the path to getting better results in any field. It’s a specific method that makes the difference between an ordinary performance and an outstanding achievement. These are some guidelines for engaging in deliberate practice and specific applications for how to use it in your daily life.

General Guidelines for Deliberate Practice

1. Be patient. A large body of research confirms that it takes about ten years before most people develop into a virtuoso, whether you want to be a pianist or a titan of industry. Plus, that ten year figure seems to be a minimum rather than an average.

2. Aim for consistency. As you would expect, you must practice regularly. Just like kids forget their course work during summer vacation, you may squander your efforts if you take prolonged breaks.

3. Understand the learning curve. It’s natural to enjoy dramatic results when you first take up anything new. Then, you hit a plateau where you need to become more strategic if you want to keep advancing.

4. Hone in on specific areas. Identify the areas where you want to improve and focus your practice there. For example, you may have acquired an extensive vocabulary in French but need to spend time listening to native speakers to improve your pronunciation.

5. Be prepared for lots of repetition. The willingness to endure repetitive drills is what distinguishes the best performers. Keep in mind that the most productive methods may not feel like a lot of fun.

6. Keep your sessions relatively brief. Researchers have found that three to five hours a day is the absolute maximum for most people, spread over individual sessions of ninety minutes or less. Pace yourself according to the amount of time during which you can maintain an intense level of concentration.

7. Set specific goals. Use a blend of goals related to both outcomes and the process itself. The important thing is to approach your usual tasks with the mindset of becoming better at them.

8. Expand your mental model. Try to identify all the factors that go into your chosen experience. Keep adding to the list and experimenting with new combinations. For example, keep a journal so you can spot what conditions support or sabotage your healthy diet.

9. Seek feedback. Outside observers may spot weaknesses that you fail to see. Partner up with a more experienced friend or hire a coach.

10. Evaluate your progress. Check in regularly to review how you’re doing. Ask yourself what is going well and where you need to make changes.

Specific Applications for Deliberate Practice in Your Daily Life

1. Enhance your exercise routine. Sports are one field where deliberate practice has been studied extensively. You can use the same techniques as professional athletes to get the most out of your yoga classes.

2. Get creative. Music and other arts are also areas where practice obviously matters. You may want to resume the piano lessons you started as a child.

3. Move ahead in your career. Any occupation can be broken down into tasks where you can make continual improvements. Brush up on your financial management skills or take a more systematic approach to making successful sales calls.

4. Enrich your relationships. Even interpersonal relationships have many aspects that respond to practice. Experiment with delivering constructive criticism more tactfully with your family and co-workers.

Deliberate practice requires time and hard work, but anyone can reap the benefits, regardless of whether you think you have any special innate talent for the activities you care about most. Focus on the areas where you want to improve and be patient. Over the long term, diligent repetition and targeted feedback will pay off.

Change Your Life in 30 Days

Significantly changing your life in 30 days really is possible, although not always easy. But even though this adventure is often a big challenge, the payoffs can be enormous.

We’ve all taken on challenges of one sort of another for 30 days. Maybe you tried a diet or an exercise program. Perhaps you decided to give up TV for 30 days. Even if you didn’t stick with the program long-term, the results were great, weren’t they? Now imagine if you expanded that idea to incorporate many areas of your life.

This program includes implementing several 30-day challenges simultaneously. You can use these suggestions or develop your own. Try creating a 30-day challenge from each category, and see where your new adventures lead you.

    1. Adjust your finances. Making more money or spending less is always a good financial theme. Alternatively, you might try balancing your accounts each day.
    2. Kick start your physical health. Diet, exercise, or combinations of both are great places to start. You could begin with something as simple as the doing the 20-minute yoga program that’s on TV every morning or taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator.
    3. Eliminate a time waster. Think about the amount of time you spend watching TV, surfing the Internet, window-shopping, playing video games, or lurking on Facebook. We all know the activities we tend to engage in when we’re bored or trying to avoid dealing with life’s challenges. Try getting rid of just one, and see how much more time you have!
    4. Add in another positive activity. Come up with something more enriching or satisfying than the time waster you’re eliminating. Maybe reading or taking a class would be in order. Perhaps you’ll spend all your newly found time playing a musical instrument.
    5. Commit to something else that appeals to you. Perhaps checking your email only 3 times a week or going to bed by 11:00 every night would be a beneficial habit you’d enjoy.

Tips for Success in Your Program

Now that you have some idea of changes you might want to make, how can you stick to them?

Try these ideas:

    1. Get enough sleep. If you set a challenge of cutting two hours of sleep each night (or even just one hour!), it’s going to make everything else more difficult. Regardless of whatever time-related goals you may set, allow yourself the 7-8 hours a night that you deserve.
    2. Set goals that you can do daily, seven days a week. Creating a new habit with an activity you only do 3 times a week is often much harder. Try to keep all new activities limited to ones you can do every day.
    3. Prepare ahead of time. Have everything you need in advance. Eliminate anything that might get in the way. For example, if you’re trying to follow a specific diet, buy the food you’ll need beforehand and get rid of food you want to avoid. You can’t break down and eat that bag of chips if there aren’t any chips in the house!
    4. Plan on social support. Tell your goals to your friends or family members that will support you in your efforts. Be careful in whom you confide. Changing is a challenge in itself. Success is harder if others are making unsupportive comments.

Trying to change several aspects of your life simultaneously may require other changes as well, depending on your chosen goals. All of our behaviors tend to interact with other behaviors, which can make changing any of them a demanding task.

For example, if you give up TV and junk food, and those are your main coping mechanisms for life’s challenges, you’re going to have to deal with your negative feelings a new way. Or better yet, you can face your concerns head-on. The distractions you’re used to falling back on may have just been ways to avoid the issues at hand.

To work this program, choose the 30-day challenges you can implement and get started. Remember to adequately prepare. If you can create several new positive habits and get rid of a few bad ones, your life will change dramatically for the better.

How to Set Boundaries to Transform Your Life

Would you like to make more time for the important things in your life? Do you feel like you often get lost in the details?

If you can set healthy limits, you’ll regain control of your life. Some benefits of this can include:

  • Life is simpler, more manageable, and therefore more stress free.
  • You’re able to achieve your goals.
  • When you value your time and show that you have priorities, others will also see your time as valuable.
  • You become more effective in almost everything you do.

Rather than focusing on life’s trivia or biting off more than you can chew, read on for some tips on setting boundaries that work for you. 

Examine Your Routine

To start this process of boundary setting, look at your daily routine. What consumes most of your time? Try to identify the places where you feel overloaded.

Maybe it’s watching too much television, spending too much time on Facebook or Twitter, or subscribing to too many blogs or newsletters. Perhaps you’re just glued to your mobile phone. Calculate how many hours you spend on such activities and cut down on them.

Then, try allotting a certain amount of time to each of these activities. Maybe give yourself an hour for your email instead of two. Each day, write down exactly how much time you spent.

After a week, look at your numbers. Did you do better than before you were tracking your time? More importantly, did you feel like you had more time for what you really wanted to do?

Refrain from trying to deal with everything at once. Address each time individually, and you’ll gradually see a change in your routine.

Identify Essential Tasks

Once you begin to set limits on your activities, you’ll be able to simplify further by sticking with the essential ones and reducing the trivial. The essentials may be organizing your closet, catching up with your reading, or balancing your checkbook.

Determine your values and goals. The essentials will depend on these. Whatever you choose should make a big difference to your life. For instance, if you want to be a good athlete, you’ll make the time to train on certain days during the week. If you can’t read through all your emails on those days, that’s okay! That’s not your #1 priority for the day, anyhow.

You may want to make a list of things to do. Then you can set your priorities. For example, you could put off cleaning the kitchen shelves in order to pay your bills.

Be Aware of Your Energy Levels

You may set out to clean your entire house in a day or take the kids to the park for a ball game and find your plans impossible because you just don’t have that kind of energy. Know your limitations and work within those boundaries for greater success.

Budget

Just like you’ll want to know your personal limits, you also need to know your financial limits. Make an effort to align your spending with your goals and values. For instance, if one of your values is knowledge, you might choose to buy a book rather than a new outfit.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for more hours in your day, these tips are a great place to start. Try out some of the suggestions above and you’ll begin to set boundaries that work for you. By doing this, you can simplify your life and make the most of work and leisure times. Best of all, you can start today.

Time Management Tips for Busy Moms

Time Management for MomsIn any given day, a mother has to deal with about a thousand and three ideas, and at least six dozen different things. However, with a few simple time management tips, the chaos that is motherhood can be handled.

Tip # 1: Be Organized

The more organized you are, the more likely things will get accomplished in a timely fashion. By keeping your things, and life as organized as possible, you’ll be able to see and deal with problems much easier and sooner than normal. Plus, it doesn’t have to be anything real elaborate. Having separate bins for laundry, or even a wall chart for the daily chores can go a long way to making the whole mechanism run a lot smoother.

Tip # 2: Delegation is Important

Despite what you have been previously told, it is not necessary for mothers to be all things to all people. As the head of your household, you need to think like a company manager. It is essential that you delegate some responsibility to others in the household. Give chores to the children, or let your husband take the dog for a walk in the evening. Whatever you chose to delegate, be consistent, and don’t allow others to “re-gift” the responsibility back to you. If it isn’t done by them, it simply won’t get done.

Tip # 3: Don’t Be Afraid of Shortcuts

While it is important to take your time and do a task correctly, a mother needs to realize that taking the occasional shortcut is not only allowed, but should be encouraged. There are many tools and tricks available that are designed to make your life easier, and your time management skills that much more effective. For example, taking a few seconds to pre-treat stains on your clothing as you throw them into the hamper can save you a fair amount of time during laundry day. Or take a few minutes in the morning to set up a slow cooker meal. That way dinner will be waiting for you at the end of the day.

You will be amazed at how much time you will find in your day when you implement one or all of the tips I’ve shared with you today, it works!

Advice on Managing Time

Managing TimeTime can make or break you. Riding the wave of getting a million things done in as little time as possible is insane. How could anyone keep up?

There are no rules for saving time – but here are a few tips. (Remember to make yours up as you go!)

  • Seclude yourself from all distractions and focus on one thing for a period of time.
  • A place for everything and everything in its place – it works!
  • Change your behavior that’s counterproductive to saving time – if it’s waking up too late – take steps to change it!
  • Streamline, minimize, organize and clear your mind.
  • Keep time in mind – when working – estimate the amount of time it should take to do what you’re doing for each task. Do this for everything that applies.
  • Don’t plan so much that you don’t get any action going. Plan a little and get to it.
  • Procrastinators never get it done – let alone done right.
  • Be a goal-setter. Setting goals will get you in the mind-set of what you want and need.
  • Give yourself little rewards for completing things that you do. You are never too old for a prize!
  • Take little breaks. A reward can be to finish a certain portion then pause to check on that item you wanted to, or do that quick task you are putting off to be focused on this one thing. Then you are multi-tasking as well.

Find what works for you, everyone is very different in how they operate, but take the time to get to know you and what makes you tick. Exploring your desires and wishes and having the time to do it is so important. Don’t let yourself get lost. You are worth it. Knowing your identity feels good!

Be sure to take steps that make sense for you – don’t let anyone tell you what you need – you tell yourself after you realize it. Keep what you discover in the front of your mind and move with that knowledge. Enjoy and good luck!