Only Have 5 Minutes To Practice?
Posted: November 14th, 2013 by Ashley Saunders
If you are short of time and only have a tiny 5 Minutes To Practice guitar, then you’ll want to have a system for achieving results. A system which produces actual results and cuts the crap to a minimum. In short (pun intent) you’ll need to learn how to squeeze 7, 9, even 10 minutes worth of guitar practice out of the 5 minutes you might have!
Sounds Too Good To Be True?
If this sounds unbelievable or unachievable, then keep reading – I’ll show you how! There are many ways to achieve more. The best way to achieve more is, however is painfully simple. To get more done with less time, you need to plan ahead and set goals. You will have to limit what you will cover and focus fully on task/tasks for the entire time.
The Power of Focus
We’ll start with the hardest first. While focus might not appear to be the hardest, it is. Focus is a choice and a habit which you can develop over time. It’s simply choosing not to get distracted either by yourself, the phone, Facebook or Twitter, or wasting time working on something you can already play. Easy to say, hard to do!
A few tips on focus, set a time each day that you will sit down to practice guitar. Let everyone who is likely to contact you, interrupt you or distract you know that you’ll be busy for that set time, each and every day. Another tip is to turn off the phone, computer, TV etc. and create a quiet spot which is perfect for you to achieve the most.
Focus is also concentrating on getting whatever you’re working on right; at least 9 times out of 10 and having the discipline to restart when mistakes to occur.
Planning Guitar Practice
A lot of practice time is wasted due to poor planning and lack of focus. It’s easy to play what you want too or rush through a half-hearted version of a scale you should know but don’t.
Don’t think of planning in terms, a detailed business plan like 20 page document. Think in terms of broad strokes. Think of what you want to achieve, by when and how you’ll get there.
Planning for Large goals
For example, if you want to learn 20 new songs to a good standard, in order that you can start take some gigs in 6 months. You will need to choose the songs, learn how they sound by listening to them on repeat for a while. Then either work out the chords by transcribing them or buy the sheet music. You will probably have to tackle two songs each week, in order to reach your goal and give yourself plenty of time to get in a gig ready state. Sure, you’ll need around an hour a day in order to do this – but that’s a great goal to have and will be achievable if you put the work in.
That’s an overview of setting large goals, however if you’ve only got 5 minutes a day, you’re going to have to choose something smaller, like learning one new chord.
Planning for smaller goals
If you want to learn more chords, for example, your plan would be to learn a new chord every two weeks, whereby you used the first week to get used to the feel, sound and shape of the chord, and you would then move on to using the new chord in a song in the second week.
Both of these are pretty solid plans which can be recorded in a diary within a couple of seconds which then allows you more practice time. You should be recording what you practiced in a diary; you’ll see your progress easier that way plus it will give you a kick up the butt when you feel you can’t play well.
If you only get a tiny amount of time, planning ahead is not only critical but is a way to shave time and energy off your development process.
In order to achieve more, you have to work on less. While that could either sound backwards or just common sense, it’s neither. It is one of the fundamental reasons most people don’t achieve much in guitar playing or in life. They try to be everything to everyone and end up being nothing to none!
Answer this honestly – over the next 6 months would you rather completely nail one scale or would you rather learn 6 scales badly?
I bet you’re in the first camp; you would rather spend the next six months working on one thing. And getting that to the point where it’s naturally part of your playing rather than learning a load of things half-hearted.
If you only have five minutes, spend it wisely; use it to master one idea. You’re more likely to get the idea nailed, memorised and sounding like a piece of music rather than an exercise. Plus once you’ve really learnt it, you never have to relearn it again.
The more focused you become on achieving smaller thing the more likely you will see bigger jumps in your playing and each huge step will seem smaller.
Quality Not Quantity
I’ve alluded to this throughout; I’m trying to get you to think about the quality of practice you undertake and to forget quantity. Any untrained monkey can rattle through a long list of exercises and feel like they have achieved a lot without actually doing so! Quality means really learning an exercise, a scale or new chord. Plus, if you’re reading this, you’re clearly way smarter and more trained than any untrained monkey I’ve seen!
Spend some time in your next practice session to evaluate the level of quality that you currently practice at.
You can really squeeze more time out of the time you have, you just have to be smart about it! All it requires is a small amount of thought. Remember going forward to think about what you want to achieve. How long you have, including an end date. The amount of time you’ll need in order to achieve it. Then pick something small to work on. If you’re limited by time, think about quality NOT quantity!