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Are you getting the most out of your guitar practice session or are you just wasting time?

I believe that quality of your practice time matters much more than quantity. You’ve probably heard me say that countless times. Checking the quality of your practice session is more important than counting how many minutes did you actually practice.

There is a catch, however.

As I found out, some aspiring guitar players are so concerned with getting everything right and so worried about making mistake, that they end up paralyzed, not knowing what to do. They are obsessed with details but at the same time they are losing the big picture from the sight.

Quality doesn’t really matter if you practice 5 minutes a day. You won’t become a phenomenal guitar player no matter how focused your 5 minute practice session is.  If you are aiming for quality, it also has to go hand in hand with decent quantity. How much you need to practice depends on your goals and aspirations.

If you are too concerned whether you are doing everything right, here’s what I want you to do.

The 85% solution

I got this thought from Ramit Sethi , the founder of famous personal finance blog I will teach you to be rich. He applies this solution when he talks about getting your money under control, but it also works perfectly fine with guitar practice.

The idea is very simple, here’s how it goes:

Getting started to get your guitar practice under control is more important than being perfect right from the beginning.

What we want to do is to get 85% right and just forget the rest. We don’t need to obsess over every detail right now.   Learning how to practice properly is a skill that you have to develop. And yes, it takes time.

If your are too concerned whether your are doing everything right, relax. No matter how hard you try, you won’t be perfect. That’s just the way it is. Perfectionism is a sure way to failure and frustration.

Optimizing your practice time can start with such a simple thing as getting a practice journal and planning your next practice session. (Now stop reading and go ahead and do that, you can thank me later :-))

Let’s stop debating minutiae.  We don’t need to manage our practice time perfectly, let’s take it one baby step at a time instead. (Did you get your journal already?)

It doesn’t matter how much information you consume, if you don’t apply what you have learned. And you haven’t learned anything, until you’ve changed the way you practice.

Getting better results is about testing different approaches and experimenting with various practice strategies to see what works and what doesn’t.  It is not about reading, it’s about deliberately improving the way you learn and practice.

The most important step is to practice consistently – 5 or 6 times a week. If you are not doing that, stop worrying whether you should learn A mixolydian or B harmonic minor scale first. It doesn’t freaking matter. Once your practice regimen is consistent, start worrying about more advanced stuff. You have to find time for your guitar practice no matter how busy you are.

Get the important things right and don’t try to be perfect. The more you learn, the more you see how imperfect you are. And that’s the beauty.

And last but not least, enjoy your practice session.

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8 Responses to Are you getting the most out of your guitar practice session or are you just wasting time?

  1. Tristan March 28, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    Hi Lukas

    Great article – one thing i found really helpful is a kitchen timer – i use this to keep me focused and make sure i dont spend too much time on one individual thing


    • Lukas Kyska March 28, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      Hey Tristan,

      thanks for your comment. I also use timer, great little tool for keeping your focus.

  2. Alex Flores April 7, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    Lots of great ideas for getting more out of your practice session, my favorites being consistency and letting go of perfectionism! Thanks

  3. Greg April 8, 2014 at 2:57 am #

    I started a guitar journal late last year. I quickly noticed the amount of effort you put in it really matters. Obviously you don’t want to spend more time journaling that practicing, but if some level of detail isn’t there, it just doesn’t work well.


    Do you have any tips or examples you might use when writing in you log?


    • Lukas Kyska April 10, 2014 at 9:18 am #

      Hey Greg, good job with the practice log.

      I use my practice log mainly to plan my practice sessions so I know that all the important stuff is there. I write down how much time do I want to spend on each item on the list, I also jot down every idea or new insight that I come up with.

      When I am working on something bigger, I use separate sheet of paper to write down chord progressions and any ideas that are related to this particular song.

      hope this helps, if you have more questions just email me.


    • Alex Flores April 14, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

      Hey Greg, great question. I noticed this same thing happening to me in my early journal-ing attempts. My best strategy now is to just mark the date and write down insights as well. I am able to track my progress by recording my best performance of whatever I’m working on. I sync everything up with Evernote so on my iPhone I can use SoundEver to quickly capture my progress. So far I’m finding this to be my best approach. Best of luck!

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