Ever heard of deliberate practice? If you’re flitting between tasks right now, well, you’re not doing it. Deliberate practice involves engaging in focused concentration for a short time on a task that moves you toward a goal.
In 1993, psychologist K. Anders found that it was the hours people spent on deliberate, high-quality practice that made the difference between average achievement and exceptional achievement.
So how can you make space for deliberate practice in your busy life?
Stop tidying, and start stopping
You can start by reducing pleasurable distractions, like checking email or tidying up your desk.
Although they don’t sound exciting, you probably get a kick out of these activities because they’re known to trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. It makes these usually unproductive tasks seem more rewarding than the ones that are aligned with your long-term goals. It goes without saying that this “busywork” can be horribly counterproductive if you’re supposed to be preparing a business plan or studying for an exam.
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The next time distraction takes hold, completely stop what you’re doing. This gives you room to think clearly and plan the next steps that will help you reach the goal that’s actually important to you.