In this article I want to discuss two key elements of achieving improved academic performance (or performance at work or in any given area of your personal life, for that matter), and how a simple but powerful system for managing your to-do list can address each element:
Improving Academic Performance
Based on our work with students every day and in our review of the research on academic performance (and really, any type of performance), we’d encourage anyone wrestling with doing better in school, preparing for a standardized test, obtaining admission to college, graduate school, or business school, to follow four simple rules.
This article will describe these four rules, and also provide links to easy-to-read books that explore each in much more detail. At the end of the article, we’ll offer a brief summary of how these rules work together to improve academic performance.
Rule #1: Adopt a growth oriented, ownership mindset
In a previous article The Underestimated Power of Practice, we talked about the power of practice when considering what makes someone an expert in any given subject. We explored the idea that genes aren’t as essential as we tend to believe, that an incredible amount of concentrated practice is a much better determinant of future success. We argued that talent is overrated, and practice is underrated. We talked about a rule that researchers on performance have developed – you may need to spend 10,000 hours practicing intensely and deliberately to become a world-class athlete, musician, or mathematician.
10,000 hours. 10,000 hours of ‘deep practice’ seems to be the rule to live by when desiring to become a world-class expert at something. When you begin to really consider that, it’s overwhelming. Now, you of course don’t need to spend 10,000 hours to build certain types of skills for specific events. It either isn’t necessary, or isn’t practical. But, the point is that you need to spend a lot of really intense, focused time practicing and pushing yourself to improve.