“Sorry I haven’t got back to you. I’ve been SO busy lately.”
Have you heard that line before?
I’m sure you have. It’s usually offered after failure to respond to an email, call or txt.
What you might not have heard, though, is this – NOBODY IS BUSIER THAN ANOTHER PERSON!
It’s all relative because everybody has the same 24 hours. Therefore, it’s not about how much you have to do, but what you prioritise doing.
So what about you?
Are you busy doing nothing?
Do you spend your days rushing from one place to another, spending endless hours working, yet never producing any results that make you happy?
If this is the case then I want you to remember this. The things that makes us busy, that we convince ourselves, and everyone else, are so important, tend to just distract us from the bigger picture of where our life is heading.
‘Busy is good. Busy is productive,’ we’ll tell ourselves but what we don’t realise is that busy can be a death sentence to ever living our dreams.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the 10,000 hour rule? Although popularised by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers, the rule is based on a study conducted over forty years ago by scientists Herbert Simon and William Chase. They investigated how long it took to become a Grandmaster in chess and discovered that there were no overnight successes. In fact, their research indicated that it took on average 10 years or 10,000 hours of practise to become an expert or Grandmaster.
After this discovery, similar research was undertaken in other fields like musical composition and sports. The studies all seemed to draw the same conclusion – to be outstanding at anything you’ll need to put in 10,000 hours.
Sounds interesting right, but how does this relate to you?
Well, even if you have no desire to become a chess master, musician or sports star, the rule seems to ring true no matter what you’re doing. Tom Butler-Bowdon’s book, Never Too Late to be Great, further develops this theory and points to examples of entrepreneur’s like Bill Gates and Howard Schultz, and even humanitarians like Mother Theresa, all conforming to the idea that 10 years or 10,000 hours of immersion in their field was needed before they made a big impact.
So, no matter what your dream may be, there seems little way of getting round the fact that you are going to have to spend A LOT of time in making it happen.
Of course, the 10,000 rule is not set in stone (and has many detractors), but for the sake of this post, I feel it provides a very useful indicator of the time commitment needed to realise your dream.
With that in mind, I want to make it more real to you. I’m going to introduce you to an acronym I’ve created (T.I.M.E) that can be used as daily guideline to make sure you’re putting in enough hours.
The 10,000 hour rule
Minimum of 2 hours 45 minutes
This is based on the 10,000 hours taking you 10 years to complete and therefore needing 1000 hours every year.
1000 hours divided by 365 days gives us the figure of 2.45 hours daily. And that’s EVERY day. Practicality or holidays may prevent you from putting in your 2.45 each day which, in that case, means the load must be increased on others.
So, how do you compare?
Take a moment to figure out exactly how much time you’re consistently giving to your dream. It may not be as easy as calculating how long you spend practising a sport or developing your artistic ability. It might mean hours spent researching a project, getting the message out through social media or attending evening classes to learn a new skill. Whatever it is, write that figure down. Now ask yourself,
Are you giving an average of 2 hours 45 minutes a day, 1000 hours a year, to the realisation of your dream?
Most people don’t. I’ve given talks and spoken to people afterwards about their dreams and listened to some of the most brilliant ideas but when I ask them about how much T.I.M.E they’re putting into their project, the answer is usually the same.
‘Oh a bit at the weekend if I can. I’ve just been so busy with work lately that I’ve had the shelve the idea for a while. I’ll get round to it at some point.’
I can sympathise. I’ve spent 12 years walking the path of living my dreams and the number one factor halting my progress was not putting in enough hours to my main objective. It was so easy to tell myself that I needed to earn that extra bit of money or that I’d been working hard and now it was time to relax.
Ironically, I’d then get frustrated with my lack of progress. I just need the right contacts, I’d tell myself. Or, I’d look at someone with more clients than me and wonder, ‘what do they know about generating business that I don’t.’
There was no secret though. In fact, the answer was pretty boring. I needed to put in those hours so I could make the right contacts and learn what it took to market myself more effectively. Without me scheduling the time and having the discipline to sit down and do it, nothing was going to happen.
And this is my message to YOU. I’m the last person that will tell anyone their dream is impossible but if you’re not scheduling roughly 2 hours 45 minutes EVERY day then you’re barely giving yourself a chance.
While the solution is obvious, the implications are harder to grasp. 2 hours 45 minutes is A LOT of time. Where are you going to find it?
You could go the burn out route and do it when you return from work – this is assuming you have no kids or significant other.
Or, there’s my personal favourite – work less hours at your day job!
This brings us back to my original point. The busyness epidemic that most of us are experiencing is self-imposed. Ultimately, we are in charge of our own schedule. We don’t HAVE to work 50 plus hours a week. We can work part-time, refuse to work beyond our contracted hours or become self-employed. Any of these 3 approaches will free up some much needed time.
Clearly, the implications of adopting any of these 3 strategies are far reaching. Short term, you’ll have to confront something the system teaches us to fear above all else – having less money. There’s also the very good chance you’ll end your climb up the corporate ladder by refusing to become your bosses paid slave and the risk and commitment needed to go self-employed takes some serious consideration. (To help with all of these I’ve put together a resource about the implications of living on less money and shifting to self-employed work.)
For now, though, I want to leave you with this thought. EVERYONE IS BUSY. Just make sure YOU are busy building your dream rather than conforming to the system’s notion of how you should live your life.
Is there someone you know who’s always telling you how busy they are yet rarely seems to get anything significant done? Email them a link to this blog post and set them straight.
Also, how much time do YOU presently commit to the realisation of your dreams and what creative ways have you discovered to free up this precious resource? Let me know in the comments section below.
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