room on the edge

inspiration (+ a push)

10,000 hours to Mastery – The Ultimate Time Management Challenge?

Recently, as is so often the case, the issues that come up in coaching sessions with my clients are also the ones that I’m also finding challenging in my own experience. So, as the long school holidays kicked in (12 weeks here in Spain!) and I had to completely re-assess my daily schedule, it was no surprise that time management and productivity came up with clients too.

10000 Won

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but how we use those 24 hours is, for me as a coach, endlessly fascinating. Some people work, work, work, have To Do Lists a book long and are endlessly busy, sometimes even productive; while others seem to blink and a whole day has gone by, seemingly without a single thing accomplished, leaving them totally baffled by how that has happened – again. Other people seem to have the knack of being able to do the productive bit without having to spend the entire two thirds of their 24 hours that they are awake just working.

Lured by this ‘mystical’ art of making the most of our precious time, many of us are drawn to people who do it differently like Tim Ferris, with his ‘4 Hour Work Week’ & ‘Experiments in Lifestyle Design’, Eban Pagan, with his ‘Wake Up Productive’ system which promises to double your productivity within 90 days so that you can take more time off and Pareto’s 80-20 Principle as described by Richard Koch which suggests that 80 percent of your results come from only 20 percent of your time, or that 20 per cent of your working day gives you 80 per cent of your results. (Listen to the Philosopher’s Note on this one too.) There are literally thousands of products out there for increasing your personal productivity while actually lowering the amount of effort and time you have to put in to do it. How we choose to fill our days, our hours, our minutes is somewhat of an obsession – time is ticking away, life isn’t a dress rehearsal… or as Napoleon Hill reminds us in the last chapter of ‘Think and Grow Rich’ “Life is a chessboard, and the player opposite you is TIME.”

So, in the bigger picture in the Game of Life – what have all those days and hours and minutes spent actually amounted to so far in your life as a whole? Stop and think about this for a moment. What, on the whole, have you done an inordinate amount of in terms of hours? There’s a theory around that, in order to become a true master at anything, you just have to put the hours in – 10,000 of them at least. Mozart, Tiger Woods, Bill Gates – they all got good at what they did, not simply by having some magical ability and it all happening effortlessly as some of us might imagine, but by consciously dedicating themselves enough to their ‘thing’ for at least 10,000 hours. Practice, Practice, Practice. Malcolm Gladwell, author of ‘Blink’ deals with this topic in his book ‘Outliers; The Story of Success’ and there are plenty of great ‘10,000 hours’ posts around, such as 10,000 hours of graphic design? The Skill of a King, or The Secret Connection Between Art & Money.

10,000 may sound like a lot of hours, but as Cath Duncan points out in her post over at Mine Your Resources, that would be about 2 hours a day for 14 years (730 hours a year), or 6 hours a day for 4 and a half years (about 2200 hours per year), which is great news for anyone who’s thinking it’s already far too late in life to begin getting good at something.

So, now think again – you may have already spent 10,000 hours of your life doing certain things, and you may or may not already feel like a Master at them, depending on whether or not you pushed yourself and learned and grew during those 10,000 hours…  but thinking forward, what if you could choose to spend at least 10,000 hours doing something particular with your time and really focusing on it and eventually truly Mastering it? What would that thing be?

  • What would be most FUN for you to spend a Lot of your time doing?
  • What would be most REWARDING to you to spend your time doing?
  • What would you like to be KNOWN by other people to be a Master at?
  • What would be most challenging and would make you GROW most as a person?
  • What would give you the most JOY?

Try throwing some ideas down on paper now – catch them while they’re floating around up there in the workshop of your mind… and please feel free to share them by posting a comment here…

Here are a few of my own ideas on 10,000 hours of Growth and Challenge…
Master the Art of Creating (rather than consuming) – Translating my ideas into ‘useful’ things, to inspire people to follow their bliss and live life as an adventure – coaching sessions, workshops, books, art, websites, articles, tools, videos, films, (hmmm – that will take a long time)

Master the Art of Travel (I mean travel in every sense, not just physical) – connecting, meeting people, sharing ideas, being with, Inspiring people to do great things with their lives, truly embracing freedom, connectivity, world citizen, consciousness, zero limits, remove glass ceilings & walls, helping others do the same, co-active, continuous movement and change…

Master Money – here’s a real personal challenge – face my demons and deal with the ‘boring’ stuff so that I control it, not the other way around. Learn to enjoy creating wealth and abundance, managing money, sharing it, using it to the better good… become a philanthropist even, and help others do the same, leading by example. Talk the talk but also walk the walk…



  1. # What would be most FUN for you to spend a Lot of your time doing?
    # What would be most REWARDING to you to spend your time doing?
    Honestly? Creating a beautiful home and garden
    # What would you like to be KNOWN by other people to be a Master at?
    Writing creative, persuasive communications for good causes
    # What would be most challenging and would make you GROW most as a person?
    Developing a consultancy to provide the above service
    # What would give you the most JOY?
    Creating the home and garden though I know it should really be world peace

  2. thanks for sharing – what lovely goals! – to help start your 10,000 hours towards mastery, why not take your 5 answers and spread them over the 5 weekdays next week – eg.
    Monday is ‘Shopping is Fun’ day,
    Tuesday is ‘Home & Garden is Rewarding’,
    Wednesday is ‘I’d like to be known for Creative writing for good causes’ etc.

    On Monday, before you get on with your normal day, write on a single post-it note ‘Shopping is Fun’ and simply place it somewhere you can see it all day long – carry it with you if you’re on the move. You don’t necessarily have to actually go shopping, but just carry the thought around with you all day that ‘Shopping is Fun’ and see what happens. Think of it as an experiment. Be open to whatever next steps you mind comes up with as a result and pay attention to how you react to its suggestions – what do you say ‘yes’ to and what do you say ‘no’ to.

    Do this for the rest of the week, with a new post-it note and a new ‘simmering thought’ each day. You may be surprised at what inspired actions or sideways thinking this simple process leads to… and let me know how you get on!


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