I remember my freshman year at Pacific University very well. I literally read 3-4 hours a day and spent almost two hours of homework per hour of class (the recommendation to college undergraduates). Despite this intensive study, I went from having a 3.8 in high school to a 2.0 at university during my first semester. What had happened?
I discovered that doing less, but doing it in a more focused manor was what I was missing.
During my second semester, one of my college professors asked me, “How many questions are on a standard test?” I answered, “about 50”. His next question, “How many pieces of information do we cover in a class?” I responded, “I don’t know for sure, probably somewhere between 300-500.” He replied, “Good. So it’s your job as a student to cover that material and understand those ideas, but more importantly, to come up with a strategy to know the top 50-80 things that might be on a test and focus most of your study time and memorization to those items.”
This conversation plays out in my head over and over. It changed the way that I do work. Work smarter, not harder. Within one semester, my GPA went up to nearly two grade points.
These same principles I have applied to my athletics, the way I prepare for meetings, presentations, work and life in general. It is the difference in doing a whole lot of good things, or focusing on being intentional and accomplishing great and occasionally an outstanding feat.
One of the more tangible experiences where I saw this play out for me was in my marathon training. After six years of marathon running, my training partner at the time Dave Uranich introduced me to a “minimalist” training program. We cut our training mileage almost in half, which was counterintuitive for me. Although I understood the theory of how it works, I was pleasantly surprised at not only how well I felt during the training year, and the reduction in minor aches on my body, but I managed to cut over 20 minutes off my marathon time that year. I ran the fastest and most physically enjoyable marathon of my life.
I am constantly asking myself in all aspects of my life how I can maximize my experience. How can I get the most out of precious time, energy, resources, relationships, and encounters?
I strongly believe that by being intentional and consistent, I can have a more meaningful experience in my relationships, work, and in my personal life.