This study sheds some light on this paradox. It provides empirical evidence that there’s a difference between hard work and hard to do work:
- Hard work is deliberate practice. deliberate practice — the uncomfortable, methodical work of stretching your ability.It’s not fun while you’re doing it, but you don’t have to do too much of it in any one day (the elite players spent, on average, 3.5 hours per day engaged in deliberate practice, broken into two sessions). It also provides you measurable progress in a skill, which generates a strong sense of contentment and motivation. Therefore, although hard work is hard, it’s not draining and it can fit nicely into a relaxed and enjoyable day.
- Hard to do work, by contrast, is draining. It has you running around all day in a state of false busyness that leaves you, like the average players from the Berlin study, feeling tired and stressed. It also, as we just learned, has very little to do with real accomplishment.
This analysis leads to an important conclusion. Whether you’re a student or well along in your career, if your goal is to build a remarkable life, then busyness and exhaustion should be your enemy. If you’re chronically stressed and up late working, you’re doing something wrong. You’re the average player , not the elite. You’ve built a life around hard to do work, not hard work.
The solution is as simple as it is startling: Do less. But do what you do with complete and hard focus. Then when you’re done be done, and go enjoy the rest of the day