This article used to be called “Why 20 minutes a day is better than 3 hours once a week” but a friend of mine pointed out that most of you would ignore the post thinking the advice seemed too obvious.
I’ve rethought and rewritten the article which now pinpoints a counterintuitive tip that will make a big difference in helping you practice daily.
This was written with guitar learning in mind, but the lesson here can and should be applied to any other skill that requires daily practice.
Let’s assume that you do agree that 20 minutes of practice a day is better than 3 hours once a week.
You understand that the whole point of a daily practice is to prevent “rust” from building up. That when you are rusty, you need to spend a disproportionate amount of time getting back to where you were last time you practiced, before even thinking about adding to your skill.
Still most people fail at setting up a daily practice. Why is this ?
The secret, my friend, is to chose a number of minutes that feels too short.
By choosing a duration that feels too short, you are setting up your environment so that you can’t use “no time” as an excuse not to train.
Does 20 minutes feel like a good chunk of time ? Then set 10 minutes as your goal.
This seems easy to do, but trust me it’s a lot harder than it looks. When you go through this internal struggle next time you are trying to convince yourself to practice, you will say to yourself: “but there is no point in doing only 10 minutes, I’d have to do at least 20-30 minutes for it to make a difference, and I don’t have that time right now…”
At that time, you will have to trust me. 10 minutes WILL make a difference.
This seems untrue at first, and then it just makes sense.
For most people, the hardest part of setting up a daily practice is actually sitting down and starting. When the time you have chosen is ridiculously short, it’s makes it that much easier to do.
As a side effect, every once in a while you will feel extra motivated and work 10x longer.
I can’t stop myself from adding one more twist to this insight: there is no minimum time.
You will get amazing results by sitting down 1 minute a day if that is what it takes.
If you don’t believe me, give it a try for one week.
Then send me an email.
Photo credit: AndreasS