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Photo by Al-Janabi
A lot of people have difficulties with prioritizing their guitar practice. I did too. When I became a dad (best thing ever) I realized life was going to be busy.
I wanted to improve as often as I could, but often other things tended to come first.
I knew I had to become more efficient with my time would I be able to play guitar like old times and do other great stuff like writing a blog and working out.
Since then I have re-learned how to prioritize. I wouldn’t know how to live without playing guitar on a regularly basis.
Playing guitar gives me so much in return, while other things don’t have lasting value. The more I practice, the more I gain control over the instrument and the more and more and more I am loving it.
It’s funny how you can prioritize other things, that don’t really mean much to you, over the things you love most. We all do it sometimes. Some more than others, but once in a while you need a reminder to set things straight and reset.
Here are some solid tips to prioritize your favorite instrument and start enjoying it as much as you would like to:
The most important thing in prioritizing is to find yourself time to practice. Two obvious solutions, but still controversial to some, are: Waking up early or staying up late. Waking up early can work very effective, efficient and satisfying, but needs some persistence to make it a habit. Check out the post to make it work.
Another simple way to create time is to do less: Waste less time on watching TV, surfing the internet, twitter, facebook, buying new things you don’t need, reading newspapers, texting and chatting on the phone, working, etc.
Concentrate on the two most important things on your to-do list: Playing guitar and physical exercise (running, yoga, working out, etc.) These are things that will contribute to your overall happiness and future goals.
Schedule your practice sessions. At what time and how long are you going to practice? What is your goal for today, tomorrow and next week? A great tool to prioritze your guitar goals is the online to-do list Rememberthemilk.com or Tasks if you have a Gmail account. Everyday put one or two small goals on your to-do list. Don’t overestimate yourself. Keep it fun!
The Master List
This looks a little like the to-do list, but a master list gives you a variety of things to practice with.
Sometimes there are moments when you run out of ideas and don’t know what to practice. You’ll usually end up playing the things you already know and that is a waste of your precious time. This is where a list comes in handy.
Write down which songs, scales, modes, triads, CD / DVD master classes, guitar magazines, books and guitar blog posts you still want to dive into. The master list contains all the things you want to learn in the near future.
Avoid Delays And Procrastination
Create your own private space within the house where you can practice in solitude. Don’t allow anyone to bother you while you practice. Put a “do not disturb” sign on the door.
Make sure you have your practice material at hand and within reach. The moment you want to practice avoid delays and distractions. Have your tablature books, guitar music (Tip: Spotify.com or Grooveshark.com) capo, picks, tuner, metronome, pen and paper in place. You don’t want to look for it when you want to start playing.
Don’t let anything discourage you from practicing. Set up your day to achieve small guitar goals. Don’t allow the risk of procrastination.
Put your guitar or guitars in sight. Don’t leave it in the guitar case or bag. Out of sight is out of mind. Not a good thing.
Put your guitar on a stand in your living room or work room. If you have more than one guitar, put them in different rooms.
The more you bump into it, the more likely you are to pick up your guitar and play. It sounds obvious but with busy lives it often isn’t.
Save time by doing things more efficiently. Do things that are important to you, things you love, improve your (cap)abilities. Stop doing things that don’t matter (learn to say no). Make less commitments and obligations in the future, create more flexibility, spontaneity and freedom to do what you want whenever you want.
Bulk your errands. Make short or no phone calls at all. Use email but stick to a three sentence response. Check email only once or twice a day. Focus on one thing only, stop multitasking. Multitasking leads to divided attention, interruptions, delay and procrastination.
Write down reminders on your toilet calender, kitchen calender or put them in your mobile phone. Put a post-it note on your computer screen or wherever you happen to spend most of your time. Remind yourself you need to play the guitar today, if only for a few minutes.
Think about what distracts you most on a daily basis. Be radical and remove those distractions. I don’t mean to get rid of your partner :) I.e.: Turn of electronic devices like Internet, mobile phones, TV, etc.
If you have a really tight schedule then play short sessions 10, 15 or 20 minutes each day. Whatever you can afford. Make the most of this time possible. Make sure you learn one new thing each practice session.
By practicing a short amount of time you will more likely stick to the habit and make it really last. Short sessions every day!
Take lessons. A teacher teach you faster than you can figure things out yourself. Save time. Lessons are fun, keep you motivated, on track and add great value to your improvement.
Spend your money on learning things rather than owning things.
Make practicing fun. If you need to discipline yourself, you are going to have a hard time. It won’t last. Make things enjoyable. Have a blast!
Play along with tracks, incorperate difficulties in your favorite guitar songs, involve your family by letting them sing along, play and practice with other musicians in real life or online, (check out www.ejamming.com and their cool youtube demo). Be creative.
Fun is the secret to long lasting guitar habits.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn
Your comments are greatly appreciated.