How To Manage Your Time Like a Genius

You could be the next genius in your field if you learn to manage your time like one!
I’m of the opinion that being a “genius” or “talented” are traits only partially gained at birth and that excellent time management skills play a big part in most very successful people. Let’s look at their secret.

Time Management From Amadeus to Zuckerberg

On my trip to Salzburg, Austria I had the opportunity to tour the birth place of one of classical music’s greatest talents- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. On display are many letters that Mozart wrote back and forth to his sister, including one in which he described in detail what his typical work day entailed. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote:

“My hair is always done by 6 in the morning and by 7 I am fully dressed. I then compose until 9. Then I give lessons from 9-1…I can never work before 5 or 6. I am often prevented by a concert. If not, I compose until 9…..When I come home early I will often lose myself in writing until 1 o’clock and then wake up again.”

I was amazed at his work ethic. Having been told my whole life that Mozart was a musical genius, it’s easy to think that this brilliant music just poured out of his head with ease. I’m not suggesting that if I too spent the majority of every day composing that I could also produce music of Mozart’s quality. There is definitely something to be said for sheer talent. However, Mozart devoted hours upon hours to writing his music. He ate, breathed and slept music. It was his life. This wasn’t just dedication, it was obsession.

Fast forward about 250 years and you’ll find the same obsession in today’s great minds. The movie The Social Network depicts the tireless energy Mark Zuckerberg put into creating Facebook. We can sit around and debate the movie’s gross inaccuracies of the “real” story, but one thing seems to be clear- this man ate, breathed and slept Facebook. He too was obsessed and used this obsession to push his idea into existence.

Both of these men were obsessed with their craft and their time management plan seemed to be “work whenever possible.” My question is, is this the kind of dedication it takes to do great things? Is the quest for a healthy, balanced life unrealistic?

I don’t think so. In his book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell popularized the idea of the 10,000 Hour Rule; that you need to do something for 10,000 hours to be truly great. I don’t believe that those 10,000 hours need to necessarily be all in a row. The key is persistence. You’ll never reach those 10,000 hours if you consistently get off track, let Time Killers steal your focus and give in to procrastination. However, you’ll also never reach those 10,000 hours if you try to do them all at once and burn out too quickly. Seth Godin describes this as getting past The Dip.

The lesson to take from these great minds is not their obsessive use of their time, but their obsessive belief in their work. Their time management secret is actually a motivation management secret. Work with fierce determination toward your goal and you’re on track to greatness.

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