How to Find Time to Play Guitar
Every day, people start, and quit, learning to play guitar.
Why do people who would really love to be able to play quit before they actually reach the guitar promised land?
There are a bunch of reasons–perhaps as many reasons as there are would-be guitarists–but those reasons boil down to a few broad obstacles that commonly trip up would-be guitarists.
Ultimately, learning to play the guitar well comes down to desire and follow-through.
In order to even get started on the journey of learning to play an instrument, you must have the desire. And that desire must be strong and continually strengthened.
As in any worthwhile endeavor, it is easy to have strong desire at the outset. It is much harder to maintain, cultivate and increase that desire once the process of growth and learning reaches difficult territory.
Desire is not static. If you want to pull the most beautiful music possible out of the center of your very Self, then you will need a mighty desire, and that desire will be continually tested as you try again each day to learn something new.
Desire is the beginning, but desire alone will not carry you very far.
There must be action. Diligent effort. Follow-through.
Without follow-through, you will live among the many who would love to be able to play the guitar but who haven’t put their time and energy on the line in order to pay the price and cultivate the capability of making music on the guitar.
The guitar is a fantastic, and strict, teacher. Build a lifetime of follow-through on a foundation of desire, and watch the guitar reveal its secrets.
But What If You Have the Desire and Are Searching For How to Follow Through?
Recently, I emerged from a long and chaotic period in my life where I was struggling to find time to practice.
Through my own choices, my life took some wild leaps and left-turns, and I had been scrambling to figure out a way to fit the guitar back into my normal lively rhythm.
I’m happy to report that I came through this challenging phase in my own guitar development, and I’m writing these words with particular compassion for anyone who would like to learn how to play the guitar but is struggling to figure out how to find the time to fit in the follow-through.
Here are the things that have worked for me to reassert guitar follow-through within my life:
1. Wake Up Early and Practice Immediately
2. Eliminate Distractions
3. Establish Accountability With a Teacher
4. Reinforce Positive Progress
Let’s take a look at each idea in turn.
Wake Up Early and Practice Immediately
If you’re at a loss for how to fit guitar practice into your schedule, then waking up extra-early may be one of the few ways you’ll be able to follow through on your desire to play the guitar.
My alarm currently goes off each morning at 5:10 a.m., and I’m up and at my music chair by 5:30.
Waking up early is hard until it’s easy (like the guitar, really).
Your first few weeks of waking up extra early will involve struggle and occasional failures.
A day begun with a period of guitar practice is a beautiful day. Particularly if you make your guitar practice a spiritual practice.
For some of you, you’re already waking up as early as you can possibly awaken.
If that’s the case, then you’re going to have to move on to the next few pointers to figure out the way you can find time to play guitar in your life.
Nine times out of ten, though, waking up early and practicing the guitar first thing will be the way to go if you’re struggling to find time to practice the guitar.
Whether or not you have room in your life to wake up a little earlier and practice the guitar, your life most likely contains an array of distractions that you could uproot if you needed to.
The incredible variety of choices available to humans in the digital age translates directly into a near-constant availability of distractions.
From television to email, busywork to outright procrastinating, distractions will take you down and erase any chance you had at fitting some practicing into your daily life.
If you would like to be able to play the guitar better but don’t feel like you have the time, then my challenge to you is as follows:
1. Kill your television.
Most people watch television. And while I’m skeptical about the supposed average amount of television that “normal” people watch on a daily basis, it’s likely that if you watch television at all, you watch it more than a little.
I gave up television about ten years ago, and that single choice has spread an incredible amount of positivity throughout my life ever since.
Don’t expect television to give up without a fight, though. Television watching can be an addiction as strong as any other. You WILL go through withdrawals if you’ve never tried to give up watching television before.
The key with getting rid of a negative habit is to replace it with a much more positive habit. Which, in your case, you’re doing by embracing guitar practice when you previously watched television.
2. Idle web surfing is tantamount to watching television.
Just because a computer looks different from a television, don’t let that fool you–the Internet can easily perform the same role as a television in your life.
The Internet is an incredible resource full of useful information. You’re on it right now as you read this, and that’s fantastic.
However, if you want to eliminate distractions from your life, surfing the Internet obsessively is definitely another major way you can reduce the time you have available to get better at the guitar.
3. Check email less often.
So we’ve taken care of television and surfing the web. Now, take on the next challenge: reduce your email checking to once or, max, twice per day.
It’s amazing how much time folks spend obsessively watching their inbox.
I’ve done it, you’ve done it. It doesn’t help us.
Pick up your guitar instead.
4. Keep a Time Log
If you really want to figure out where your time is going, keep track of it.
Have a journal with you all throughout your day, and at 15-minute intervals, jot down what you’re doing.
Just having this practice as an intention will automatically bring your days into clearer focus. You’ll see where you invest your time wisely and where you lose precious minutes and hours.
This List Is By No Means Exhaustive
Time Management is an entire field with hundreds of books and competing methods. I’m not trying to take their place here.
But these four habits will massively reduce the amount of distraction in your life, which will clear some space for you to spend more time practicing and playing the guitar.
Establish Accountability With a Teacher
Working with a teacher will keep you on track and apply a little extra pressure to you during your week.
If you know you’re going to be held accountable for your progress, you’ll be that much more likely to find the time you need to make the progress that will allow you to move forward under your teacher’s guidance.
It’s for this reason that, when you’re starting out working with a teacher, weekly lessons work best.
That weekly check-in will not only insure that you don’t veer too deeply into any bad guitar habits, it will also keep the pressure on you to follow through on your desire to learn how to play the guitar.
And yes, I am available for Skype guitar lessons.
Reinforce Positive Progress
Finally, if you want to keep your desire strong to fuel your follow-through, which will help you find the time to play the guitar, make sure you reinforce the positive developments that take place in your guitar learning process.
Appreciation is a hidden artform.
Here’s how to do it: be very clear about where you are right now. Record yourself playing at your best right now if you need to.
Then, a month from now, take a moment and recount everything you’ve learned from now until one month from now. Play the things you have learned.
Watch the recording you made a month ago. Notice everything you can see in your playing from a month ago.
Then, record yourself again. Play at your best.
Put the recording away in a safe place, and get on with your practicing and playing.
At the end of 12 months of this, watch or listen to all the recordings you’ve made.
And tell me you haven’t gotten better.
Develop a Proactive Relationship With Time
These four approaches, combined, will steadily reinforce your desire by encouraging regular follow-through.
Any one of these approaches can help you, but all four combined will transform your relationship with time and thereby create much more time in which you can enjoy practicing the guitar.
Don’t let busyness, stress, distraction or anything else stand in the way of you and your dreams of being able to play the guitar as well as you possibly can.