The number one challenge for many guitar students seems to be finding enough time to practice. Actually time today is perhaps everyone’s biggest challenge. Where did all the time go? The typical reply when asked about practice might be “I had a super busy week last week with a million things to do but hoping for a better week this week”. Interestingly though it seems to be the same people with the same story each week. My guess is the real issue not so much a lack of time but a lack of time management. Time management like any skill requires practice which in itself requires more time. We are a peculiar species because we have the most advanced brain in the known universe yet we fail to use it to work on our biggest problems. Time is the biggest issue for most so let me get straight to the point and give you my top 3 pieces of time management advice which I am confident will solve your time problem.
Tracking your time
If you ever hear yourself saying you have no time than it’s the same as saying you have no money. People who claim to have no time or no money most of the time are really saying they are not managing their time or money. Tracking how you spend your time will reveal where your time is actually going and you may even be surprised at how much time (like money) you waste. Our brains have the ability to automate repetitive daily tasks to the point where we may not even notice them after a while. For instance you might check your phone messages each morning followed by emails followed by a little net surfing and before you know your morning has disappeared. On closer scrutiny you can turn a 2 hour phone/Internet session into 30 minutes simply by setting a time limit. There are even programs now that will do it for you. When we answer every call and every email 5 times a day we end up with 5 times as many replies and therefore 5 times the time is required. If your situation (E.g. You run a business) requires you to answer so many calls and emails you need to hire an assistant. If you can’t afford an assistant than you need a new business plan.
First things first
Do your most important tasks first. Write a list of all your tasks then prioritise your list. Next create a schedule and begin with your most important tasks. As mentioned above allocate a set amount of time for each general task. E.g. 60 mins for exercise, 30 mins emails twice a day, 60 mins for guitar and so on. Now write them on to a weekly planner. What most people find is there is not enough time to do everything. While initially it may be disheartening to realize you don’t have enough time to master guitar, cooking, a foreign language, get a degree in medicine, become a triathlete, coach your nephew’s football team and do a photography course all while trying to keep up a social life and be the most popular person you know on Facebook it is a reality check. Many people never do the above exercise and end up living life as a crisis. Interruptions come from every direction. Phone ringing, emails appearing etc. It is easy to just react to everything as if it were a crisis but the worst part is they never realise that they are simply trying to achieve too much and there is no order to their madness. They just do whatever seems most immediate.
Practice log – (Download from G4 GUITAR Student Site)
Its important to log your practice even if it is zero. This will give you a measurement to work with. Knowing how much practice you are doing will help you to be honest with yourself but will also inspire you. Students who use the practice log almost always do better. In fact my own student statistics showed that students who use the practice log daily are far more likely to still be learning guitar in 6 months. In fact I could predict with 95% accuracy which students would be still learning after a year based on their practice log. The more they filled in their log the more likely they were to be learning guitar a year later. The reason the practice log is so powerful predictor of future success is because students can see the investment of time they are making and get a real sense of how practice equates to progress. Even when your progress is slow you will feel good about your effort. Progress can at times appear to come in bursts. It’s as though our brain requires you to play a particular song or practice a certain skill x number of times before it sinks in. Suddenly one day you realize you can play something effortlessly often after months or even years of practice. The practice log keeps you aware that this is not really the case. Your progress is a direct result of the time invested into practice.
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