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You Only Need 5 Hours A Week To Be Successful (With This Learning Approach)

You Only Need 5 Hours A Week To Be Successful (With This Learning Approach)

We have all heard of, and probably some of us have tried to apply, the famous “10,000-hour rule” by Malcolm Gladwell, which states that spending 10,000 hours working on any skill can help us master it. As promising and as reasonable as it sounds, for most of us this seems way too far fetching and time-consuming to even try, especially with the rapid developments and changes happening daily in any business or profession. Studying the lives and habits of successful leaders and entrepreneurs, Michael Simmons of Empact has found a new, slightly altered approach that is less time-consuming, but just as effective as the “10,000-hour rule”. Simmons called it simply the “5-hour rule” [1].

Why it works

Realizing the downsides and misconceptions about the 10,000-hour rule, Simmons was able to find a pattern among the famous visionaries that included deliberate practice or learning for five hours a week or an hour a day. For most of us, the mere idea of having to spend the 10,000 hours on learning or practicing seems overwhelming. The 5-hour approach, on the other hand, gives results simply because it creates a habit of constant work on developing and improving skills, without the work-hard-till-you-burn-out mindset. Each of us can set aside one hour a day to work on improving ourselves, in any way we want to.

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Many entrepreneurs today tend to neglect all aspects of their life that don’t belong to their work. In this way, they harm their close relationships and their health. That is why the 5-hour rule is so effective since it provides people with the opportunity to build new skills or improve new ones without having to sacrifice family, friendships, their love life, or their health.

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As Simmons suggests, we should look at deliberate learning as a form of exercise. As our bodies need a minimum dosage of exercise per day for all of our organs to perform well, so do our brains need to be stimulated with newer and bigger challenges on a daily basis to be able to generate new ideas.

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How to implement the 5-hour approach

1. Practice mindfulness

Some of the most successful people take the time each day to meditate, do yoga, or engage in any activity that helps their brain rest so that they can focus better on their daily challenges. Oprah Winfrey sets aside a couple of minutes every morning to start her day with meditation as it helps her be more mindful during the day. To become more aware, more productive and improve any skill, we should take a few minutes each day to prepare our mind for the new day, by simply quieting our thoughts and focusing on breathing.

2. Read

Another great practice we can learn from people like Oprah Winfrey, David Rubenstein, and Dan Gilbert, as Simons suggests[2], is reading. All of them spend at least one hour a day reading. Apart from it being a great relaxing activity as it helps us to quiet the noise of our thoughts, reading can also help us develop our skills and become experts.

3. Balance

As many highly successful people suggest, success doesn’t come from working harder, but working more productively. Instead of letting their work interfere with every other important part of their life, successful people have learned how to balance between being productive and enjoying quality time with their family. In this way, they are always in the present moment, and fully dedicated to each aspect of their life. Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO at Virgin Money, uses the first hour after she wakes up to answer emails and read the news so that she can enjoy in regular morning activities with her family, without being distracted by work.

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Reference

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to do something about it.

Here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, leaving you calmer, in control, and a lot less stressed at work.

1. Write Everything Down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when work feels overwhelming is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s occupying your thoughts[1].

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind, write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind.”

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have emptied your head, go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. You can learn how to create a more meaningful to-do list here.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago to help when work feels overwhelming. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and we humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take[2]:

When feeling overwhelmed at work, use Parkinson's Law.

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad. It’s more wishful thinking than bad judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work. If you have estimated that to write five important emails will take ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is that you put yourself under a little time pressure, and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time, so it plays tricks on us, and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our team members to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening, and we get more focused and more work done. This will help when work feels overwhelming.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos to avoid getting overwhelmed at work. Schedule time for each task, especially high priority tasks, while also grouping together similar tasks. This will help relieve stress and anxiety in your daily work life.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done, and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer, and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one[3]. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend, or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss or a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and will only make you feel more overwhelmed at work. You need to make a decision to deal with it, and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved.

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed, and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend about the problem.

    He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem, and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I pay a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first was: don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second: there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we are feeling overwhelmed at work (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

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    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

    It also means that, rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible, and you can make decisions about what to do about them.

    Often, it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be that you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    When work feels overwhelming, it’s not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work. It can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    It’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate, but there are things you do to make it more manageable. 

    Make a decision, even if it’s just talking to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution.

    When you follow these strategies, you can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

    Reference

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