Can’t Practice? Ten Tips for Getting It Done

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At Harpmastery Day in June, my friend and colleague Candace Lark and I co-presented a workshop on “Practice Strategies for Results, Growth and Pleasure.” Here are some notes from the first part of that workshop.

Practicing is difficult. It requires concentration, discipline and time. And often at least one of those three are lacking. We have too much on our mind and we can’t concentrate. Or we lose our focus as we are practicing and our mind wanders elsewhere. Or we simply are too busy. Conquering ourselves and our circumstances is the first challenge to meet in order to have successful practice.

Try these techniques to get your practice done.

Too distracted? Can’t concentrate?

It can be very hard to shut the door on the world, literally or figuratively. Here are some simple strategies:
1. Turn off your phone. That should be obvious, but…
2. Practice first. Get it done before the rest of the day intrudes.
3. Do that one pressing thing first, then let everything else wait. Sometimes you simply must do one thing before you practice. Just make sure it is ONLY ONE thing. Do it and then sit right down to practice with a clear conscience.
4. Start your practice with the most challenging task. The hardest thing you have to do is often the quickest route to concentration. You must bring all your attention to the task at hand. It’s a little like diving into the cold water; you get wet all at once.
5. Set time limits for each thing you have to practice. If you know you only have ten minutes to work on that etude, it’s amazing how quickly and well you will work.

Too busy? Not enough time to practice?

Try these techniques for beating the clock.
1. Schedule it on your calendar. What you have on your calendar, you will do. Don’t try to squeeze practice into a day that’s already over-scheduled.
2. Trade time with another task. Sometimes we have to make choices. Make a choice in favor of practice.
3. Make a plan. A good practice plan will let you practice everything you need to cover in less time.
4. Get someone else to do the dishes. Delegate another task to free up some time for practice.
5. Have an emergency routine. Some days just don’t allow for a full practice session. Have a “diet” version of your practice that will keep you on track if you are short of time for a day or two.

One more note: I mentioned a book at Harpmastery Day that caught the attention of the participants. The book is Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, by Brian Tracy. The book has many helpful tactics for getting down to work. It is written with the business community in mind, but the techniques apply to any life situation in which you find yourself procrastinating. An easy and worthwhile read!

Do you have a favorite tip to share? Leave it in the comments!

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