13 Easy Ways To Find More Practice Time And Skyrocket Your Results
- by Tom Boddison
- 03 Jul, 2017
If there's one thing every guitar player wants, it's more TIME.
It always seems like you can't practice as much as you'd like, and some days you might not get to practice at all. It can get really frustrating!
Thankfully it doesn't have to be like this. With the strategies in this article, you'll be able to find loads more practice time and reach your goals much faster.
Every extra minute you find is another minute that's helping you become a better player - that's why every extra minute needs to be squeezed out.
Let's get started!
Grab the free "Practice Time Checklist" PDF
for a summary of all 13 points in this article. Print it off and hang it up in your practice room so you can always find time to practice, no matter how busy you are!
1: Guitar Is Your Main Priority
This is a foundation for all the other tips. Make guitar your priority.
We all have the same number of hours in a day - it's just about our priorities. Work/school is a big one, because we need it to make money/learn for the future.
We also need to eat, exercise, sleep, etc. in order to survive.
Everything else is pretty much optional. It's up to us how we spend our time.
If you don't prioritise guitar, your time will fill up with other activities and suddenly you don't have time to practice.
Don't let this happen. Instead, make guitar your go-to activity.
Do you finish work at 5, and go out with friends at 6? Then re-schedule for 7 so you've got another hour to practice. You can still socialise, but now you're doing guitar as well.
Fancy watching TV? Practice at the same time, like in this article
. As long as you build a good foundation, you'll still make good progress.
Do guitar FIRST, and do everything else afterwards. Make guitar your priority.
Don't try to fit guitar playing around other stuff. Put the guitar in FIRST, and plan other activities around that. It's all about this small mindset shift.
How much do video games, or internet surfing, really mean to you? Couldn't you be playing guitar instead and do something more valuable?
I'm not saying you can't do those things; they're fun! Just be aware that if you wanna be a great player, get your guitar practice done first.
Make it your main priority!
2. Practice First Thing In The Day
This is an easy way to prioritise your guitar.
Every day when you wake up, just do 5 or 10 minutes of guitar. You don't even have to practice something specific - just noodle if you like.
"But I don't have the time!"
Yes, you do - you just currently spend it reading the news, or watching morning TV, or getting coffee.
Instead, play the guitar. Soon it'll become habit and it'll be your "go-to" morning activity, just like the newspaper, or coffee, is now.
Do it every day before you go to work/school, and you'll quickly see the benefit. An extra 10 minutes a day is another 60 hours
each year, which could make a massive difference to your playing!
3. Do Mini-Sessions At Every Opportunity
Do you have two minutes to spare before you go to work?
Another two minutes when you get home from work?
Five minutes before you go out, or while you wait for a friend to arrive?
Don't get your phone out - pick the guitar up!
You can fit in loads of two-minute sessions throughout the day, and get tonnes more practice done.
It might not seem like much, but it quickly adds up. This method is awesome for learning scale patterns (or the notes on the fretboard), because you need to learn it, then forget it, the learn it, then forget it, until you no longer forget it.
By doing lots of mini sessions you can learn-and-forget loads of times each day, making you learn WAY
4. Keep Your Guitar At The Ready
Don't keep your guitar in the case; keep it out on a stand.
This way you can pick it up and play any time you feel like it, and you'll play more as a result.
Remove all barriers to practice (like having to get it out of the case, find your practice material, find a place to sit/stand, etc.) and make it easy for yourself!
Part of practising more isn't finding the time, but making sure we use the time we have effectively.
This means practising whenever we have the chance... which is easy if your guitar is already out of the case and ready to be played.
I keep my guitar around me all the time - as I write this it's leaning on a chair next to me! This way, I'm always ready for a quick noodle if I have a few minutes to spare.
You could even bring a guitar to work/school to practice in your lunch break. Think about how much practice you could do over a full year, adding up each little session every day. What would it do to your skills?
5. Practice When You Watch Shows/Films
If you're trying to improve your speed, you need to put in a lot of repetitions.
How do you do this without getting bored?
Practice while you're being entertained by other things!
Most people do this wrong when they start, though - there's a few steps you need to follow before you can do it effectively. You need to be 100% clear on EVERYTHING before you start.
Check out this article
for more on subconscious practice, and how to do it well.
Think about how much time you spend watching TV and YouTube videos - if you're like most people, it's probably a couple of hours each day.
What would happen to your skills if you practised at the same time? How good could you get?
You can do HOURS of practice like this without even realising, and get great results in a short amount of time.
You might be sceptical about this if you've never done it before - especially if you normally practice with 100% focus.
The thing is, there's a time and a method for doing this. Do it the wrong way, and you won't get results. Do it well, and it can make a massive difference to your skills.
If you are
sceptical, I urge you to try this for just two weeks (pick one small technical challenge or lick) and see what results you get. Then you can decide for yourself - I expect you'll be pleasantly surprised!
6. Schedule In Advance
We always schedule social events in advance.
We might even plan what TV we want to watch, based on what's showing on a certain day: "Oh, that's on this Friday. I'd better make sure I can watch it!"
So why not do the same thing with guitar?
You can "schedule" guitar time in advance to make sure you allow for it.
Normally I'm not a fan of "scheduling", because it can make it feel like work. This is why you don't have to plan what you'll practice if you don't want to - just put that time aside for guitar.
You could even spend the time just playing, if you like! All week you can look forward to that Saturday afternoon you've put aside for jamming on guitar, playing your favourite rock songs with your amp turned up loud.
Often we want to play guitar, but other things get in the way. This is a great way to prevent this happening. Instead of guitar making way for other activities, the other stuff can make way for guitar.
7. Try Eliminating Video Games For One Week
Lots of people today play video games - and if you're one of them, this is for you.
Video games are fun, but what if you could give them up - just for one week - to focus on guitar?
You can go right back to playing afterwards; it's only a temporary thing.
It can, however, make a big short-term difference. If you want to master a specific thing (like a scale, or a solo), then this is a great way of doing it quickly.
You'll free up lots of time for guitar playing and make lots of progress in a short time, before going back to your normal habits afterwards.
If you have other similar hobbies, try it with them too. If you really want to master a specific guitar challenge, try giving up other hobbies for just a week or two - see what the effect is!
Remember, this is not a permanent change!
It's temporary, to give you a quick "boost" of improvement in a short time.
8. Do Short-Term Focus Plans
You could take tip number 7 all the way, and do short-term focus plans where you cut out any non-guitar activities and focus 100% on your playing. How much could you improve your skills?
This is a great way to master something difficult in a short period of time.
What would happen if you cut out everything non-essential and replaced it with guitar, just for one week?
How many hours of practice could you do? How fast could you improve?
You could do a month's practice in a week, and learn 4x faster! How cool would that be?
You can go back to your regular habits afterwards, but doing a short-term focus like this could have a massive impact on your abilities.
Plan it out like in tip #6, and then go for it! You'll be surprised how much is possible in a short time if you focus.
If you don't already exercise daily, I'd highly recommend it - and not just for the health benefits.
It'll make you feel loads more energetic which will give you more energy for guitar.
Often the challenge isn't finding time, but making sure we can be bothered to practice!
After a hard day at work you might just wanna relax and pig-out, but if you exercise regularly then you'll have more energy.
This means you'll practice more, and get more progress.
I know it sounds strange, but it's true - exercise, and you can get more guitar practice done!
It'll also help you sleep better, meaning you can wake up earlier and do more of tip number 2.
If you don't already do it, give it a go. The benefits in all areas of life are numerous.
10. Eat Better
This ties in with the last tip - the healthier you are, the more energy you'll have to practice.
Eating healthily will prevent the feeling of lethargy and "I can't be bothered" that stops you from practising. It'll make you feel more alert and energetic, making you more likely to practice.
Eating a light, fresh diet will also greatly improve your sleep, meaning you can spend less time in bed and more time with your guitar.
Exercise and eat healthily - you'd be surprised how much difference it makes.
11. Make It Fun
This is one of the most important
tips in this whole article.
DO NOT force yourself to practice; if it feels like work, stop.
Guitar is supposed to be fun, so make it enjoyable! If following any of these tips makes it feel like work, then it's not worth it.
The whole point of music is enjoyment
, so if you're not enjoying it then you may as well not do it - regardless of how much progress you're getting.
If you enjoy it then you'll do it a lot more, and be a better player as a result. Don't feel like it's gotta be hard for it to be effective. It's got to be fun
to be effective.
Try inventing little games - how many times can you play a lick or solo perfectly in a row? How quickly can you switch between two chords?
Get creative, and have fun! The more fun you have, the faster you learn.
12. Get Up Earlier - Go To Bed Later
If you exercise regularly and eat well, you could easily get up 15 minutes earlier. In fact, you'd hardly notice the change.
And I bet you could go to bed 15 minutes later, too.
Then, you could gain an extra 30 minutes a day to practice. Over a full year, that adds up to a lot - over 180 hours, in fact!
30 minutes a day could make a big difference to your playing, and it doesn't even feel like you're making sacrifices.
Just set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier and practice guitar instead. See what it does to your abilities.
13. Quality Is King
Throughout all of this, there's one thing to keep in mind: poor practice is wasted practice.
If your practice is sloppy, and you let mistakes slip through, then you're not going to get any better regardless of how much you do.
You need time, yes, but you also need quality.
There are a few elements to real, quality practice:
1) It's focused on one small, specific area.
2) You're learning material appropriate to your level.
3) You're following an effective method (this varies from area to area, but do some research and you'll come up with something good. This blog has a few articles covering this for scales and technique).
4) You're focused on fixing your mistakes. Push your abilities until you make them, and then slow down and drill these problem areas until they're mastered.
Follow those four basic guidelines and you're sure to make good progress. Remember: poor quality practice is wasted!
Every time you practice, ask yourself whether your following those four "quality tips". If not, fix it! The better the quality of your practice, the faster you'll learn.
I hope this article has helped you to find more practice time and get better results.
Don't forget to grab the
free "Practice Time Checklist" PDF
for a summary of the points in this article. It's a super-quick reference you can use to find more time to practice even when you're busy!
Have fun, and keep rocking!