At that point, you’ll divide the number of hours by the number of days you have. If you want to do something that will take 100 hours over the next year, and you plan to work at it 5 days per week, you’ll have about 250 days to accomplish your project. If you divide 100 hours by 250 days, you can see that you need about 25 minutes per day.
Let’s take this course for an example. You know that this course will take you about 120 hours to complete. If you want to finish the course is 4 months, you know you have about 120 days, which means you need 1 hour per day to work on the course. However, if you want to take a break on Sunday (which I recommend), then you’ll need to do an extra 10 minutes per day on the other six days. Now your total is 70 minutes per day.
But practical experience still suggests that there’s a problem with this type of planning. Things happen in life that disrupts our best intentions. Maybe you get sick for a few days. Maybe your family member gets sick and you have to take care of them.
“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.”
We’ve looked together at how to collect ideas then analyze them. Now understand that good ideas deserve some attention, so we must bring our concentration to them.
Think of a video game or a sport you like. Maybe you grew up playing Minecraft for hours every week. My son loves to play Minecraft. (You can click on his Minecraft image to see his YouTube channel.)
The way you become good at a video game is to immerse yourself in it, explore it completely, make mistakes (and perhaps get killed a few hundred times, yes), and finally you come to mastery. A good video game allows you to learn it quickly but you’ll need a long time to master it.
It’s like a good idea—you get the idea in an instant, but by concentrating on it, you can make it a masterful idea.
As a young person, you’re part of a digital age. Older people have given you the name of a ‘digital native’. You’re not afraid of technology, like many older people. In fact, most young people can live in comfort with several digital devices on at the same time. You have music playing, the TV playing, your computer is on and you’re writing a paper, while at the same time you’re posting on Facebook, watching a Youtube video, and sending and receiving texts ... all at the same time ... and it’s no big deal to you.
Sometimes multi-tasking can hinder your ability to go deep with one specific task or idea. Imagine you think of an idea that really is going to help you accomplish a fantastic goal in your life. This goal is really important to you. Before you decide that you should focus on it, I want you to get a picture in your mind of “why”.
Why is it important for you to accomplish that goal? What will give you the energy and the inspiration to concentrate on your idea so that you can find the right path to take?
• Do you just love challenges, and this is one more you can’t wait to conquer? If it’s a challenge, create a challenge for yourself. As an adult, I learned that writing a book doesn’t need to take 4 years. Why not six months? That means about 2 pages a day. Maybe you want to write a great song ... so write one song a day and see what comes out. Maybe you want to learn to type 50 words per minute and you can only do 20 right now. Why does it have to take 5 years? Why not 5 weeks? That’s just an extra 1 word per minute over 30 days and you’ve got 35 to do it in.
• Are you afraid of failure? Are you afraid of the consequences of not succeeding so it drives you to succeed?
• Do you have a great vision or dream that just lives and breathes in your heart?
• Maybe you have a great need and finding a solution will meet that need and change your life.
• Is it your pride that gives you inspiration and energy? Sometimes pride is a good thing. Think of it more as a desire for excellence. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:29, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.” You can’t be skilled in your work and serve kings (or CEOs of companies) unless you take pride in your work and have a desire to be excellent in what you do.
I find that one way that I have learned to concentrate on big projects is to set smaller intermediate goals and targets along the way. That way, I can jumpstart my concentration. If I don’t feel like studying, instead of turning on the TV, I’ll say to myself, “I’m going to do this for 8 minutes.” Then I find myself trying longer.
Memorizing Bible verses was always hard for me. I read the book of 1 Peter and thought, “I’d love to memorize that!” But it always seemed so overwhelming. So I said to myself, “I’m going to concentrate on this for 10 minutes and see what I can do.” I ended up memorizing about 5 verses and I was so impressed with my progress that I kept going and memorized about 5 more. In the end it took me several months but I could quote 1 Peter from memory.
So how do you accomplish bigger tasks? Break the project down into manageable bites. You have to figure out how many hours it will take to accomplish your task in total. That’s not easy to calculate if you haven’t had much practice time management so it will take some getting used to. My rule of thumb on a project is to estimate the number of hours it will take me then double it, because projects often require twice as much time to complete as I usually estimate.
Maybe a friend calls and invites you to do something that is irresistible. So you must allow room for margin. I would allow at least 25% allowance for margin. That means, if you plan 70 minutes per day, you’ll add 25% or 17.5 minutes (let’s just say 20 minutes for easy math) and that brings you to 90 minutes per day – an hour and a half.