Now that I'm my own boss, one of my biggest day-to-day challenges is knowing what to actually work on. Sure, if I have a deadline for a project, I'll work on that, but otherwise. . .
Maybe I should read up on marketing?
Or web design?
How about I just get some of the laundry out of the way?
Not that doing any of those things is necessarily bad (ok, I'm trying hard not to do housework during work hours), but I noticed these types of activities were taking up more and more of my day.
Eventually, I realized I could go an entire day without painting or sketching at all. And that was a problem because it meant I wasn't growing in my real field of choice: art.
Yes, art is a business, and I want to improve at the business side of things, but what I really want to become great at is painting and drawing.
Which is where my Practice Project comes into play.
THE 10,000 HOUR RULE
I'd previously heard of the 10,000 hour rule from an interview with Malcom Gladwell. Studies have shown that it takes 10,000 hours of practice before you can achieve mastery in any complex skill. This goes for anything: from composing music to public speaking to skateboarding to being a doctor.
And so, of course, it also applies to art.
10,000 hours always seemed like an unattainable ideal until I saw this infographic, which broke down the hours a bit better for me.
10 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 20 years
20 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 10 years
40 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 5 years
60 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 3.5 years
I realized that at my current rate of painting, oh, maybe two hours a week, I was headed for mastery around retirement age. Not super ideal.
THE PRACTICE PROJECT
So I set a very basic goal for myself: to spend at least 20 hours every week with paintbrush or pencil in hand.
Being the list-oriented person that I am, I decided to track my hours spent painting and drawing.
I felt really motivated to get to mark another hour well-spent and it was incredibly satisfying to see how quickly I started increasing my practice time.
Within three weeks, I'd more than quadrupled my time spent. (Note: it didn't take a lot. The first week I painted exactly zero hours and sketched for two.)
I wasn't sure how interested other people might be in tracking time spent practicing different skills -- I'm also tracking my yoga and Hindi practice for fun -- but I thought I'd include the worksheet I used for the first month. You can download my Practice Project tracker here!
I'd love to hear what types of skills each of you is working on mastering. How are you going about developing your skill? What ways of practicing or learning have worked best for you?