5 Minutes a Day

I recently read Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination by Hugh MacLeod. I mean, why wouldn’t you read a book called Evil Plans?

It’s another book about creativity and striking out on your own, written by a guy who made a name for himself by drawing cartoons on the backs of business cards. That’s all well and good, but sometimes I think these kind of screeds are a little too niche. Some people like having a 9-to-5 job and working for an employer and that doesn’t make them brainless schlubs. Maybe more people can and do have their Evil Plan side projects today than ever before, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everybody.

But that’s my own rant on rants like this. What I really wanted to talk about was one of the brilliant thoughts that stuck with me from the book:

“Like a very talented pianist once told me when I was a boy, it’s better to practice a musical instrument for five minutes a day than to practice for two hours once a week. It’s something I never forgot.” (page 39)

Five minutes a day is better than two hours once a week. If you’re serious about anything, if you want to get good at anything, if you want to tackle a tough project, you need this advice (read: I need this advice).

It’s the consistency that wins over time, not the herculean effort.

And really, if you love it, you’ll find those five minutes are never enough and you’ll start to make more time. But at least take those five minutes.

(My problem is I can never stick to just five minutes and it turns into two hours and the next day I can’t afford to dive in so deeply, so I don’t. I need to learn some self-control. Or I need an egg timer. Or maybe a real egg timer.)

And yes, this is just a gimmick. It’s like all the other ideas, techniques and tricks out there to get you to do something: National Novel Writing Month, inbox zero, pick your favorite Lifehacker gem. But let’s call them what they are: gimmicks. Designed to get us to accomplish a task we can’t otherwise seem to do. Another comment MacLeod makes is that we’re just primates, and like primates we need to be tricked into accomplishing something.

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