The average players are working just as many hours as the elite players (around 50 hours a week spent on music),
but they’re not dedicating these hours to the right type of work (spending almost 3 times less hours than the elites on crucial deliberate practice),
and furthermore, they spread this work haphazardly throughout the day. So even though they’re not doing more work than the elite players, they end up sleeping less and feeling more stressed. Not to mention that they remain worse at the violin.
Hard work is deliberate practice. It’s not fun while you’re doing it, but you don’t have to do too much of it in any one day (the elite players spent, on average, 3.5 hours per day engaged in deliberate practice, broken into two sessions). It also provides you measurable progress in a skill, which generates a strong sense of contentment and motivation. Therefore, although hard work is hard, it’s not draining and it can fit nicely into a relaxed and enjoyable day.
Hard to do work, by contrast, is draining. It has you running around all day in a state of false busyness that leaves you, like the average players from the Berlin study, feeling tired and stressed. It also, as we just learned, has very little to do with real accomplishment.
What I get from this:
- LESS work, higher quality, more routine
- Don’t exhaust yourself with divided poor quality work over long periods of time
- Do focused work in dedicated bursts
- Don’t multitask
- Study for fewer hours, but really challenge yourself in that time
- Relaxation is not the enemy, exhaustion is.
I think I might not do so well for a unit this sem. But failing does not mean you’re a failure. I’ll just have to learn and do better next time. And I will not catastrophise – I still have chances to do well in the final exam – I just need to maintain productivity, and take care of myself.