Time management can be a tough job! Here are are some ways you can take control of your time and make the most of it.
By Kindra Joan
“Lost time is never found again.” –Benjamin Franklin
Time is the same for every person; nobody gets more than anyone else. As musicians we need time to grow in our musical walk and sometimes we don’t manage our personal time as well as we should. (Me included!) Here are four ways to use our time wisely so we can pursue our passions to their full extent.
The definition of the word procrastinate is to delay, postpone action or put off doing something. This word follows me around like a puppy dog more than I care to admit. For me, personally, when I get home there is nothing I would rather do than kick off my shoes and sit down to a good book or movie. I have mini battles in my mind because I know that I have things to do and instead I tend to procrastinate and tell myself I deserve to relax. While relaxing is important, we need to remember that things really do have to get done. Getting directly to work on a task when we have time means we will have time later to relax without having that battle in our heads.
Let’s say I don’t practice my music and instead sit down to a movie. The whole movie I think about how much I will have to do tomorrow, how I should not be watching that movie right now and even thoughts of my fingers not being as flexible due to not practicing cross my mind! Slowly those thoughts leave and I find myself forgetting all about the tasks I have for do or the music lesson I have the next day.
One way I found to help fight procrastination is to create a detailed list of things to do before leaving the house in the morning. I personally enjoy sticky notes! Before you allow yourself to watch a movie or read a book, make sure that you complete your list of things to do! If you need some encouragement or someone to keep you accountable, ask a family member or friend to check in on you once in a while to see how you’re doing. The same way I can get addicted to candy, I can get addicted to being lazy! Someone checking in on me is a great help!
One, Two, Three
There are days when I have a million and a half things to get done and the stress can be overwhelming. With so much to do, and so little time to do it, there has to be some way to organize and get everything done. I encourage you to mess around and find a system that fits your specific needs and lifestyle. However if you are looking for one to try let me suggest this:
Start by writing down everything you need to get done in the next week or in any specified length of time. Then, take the three most important items and label them with the number one. After that, take another two or three items and label them with the number two. Now, take the remaining things and label them with a three.
Whenever you have time, work on your list of things to do in the order of most importance — starting with the items labeled one and then continuing to two and three. Depending on the situation, items can also move to a different priority as needed. I encourage writing them each on sticky notes so they can move and come off easily when they are accomplished.
There is a reason you get a designated lunch break at work or even a separate break time. It’s not healthy to be constantly working without a stop. When you are doing something as challenging as music practice there is only so much your brain can handle before it starts slowing down. Break time can look dramatically different depending on how hard you are working and how much you have to practice or get done.
If we look at this situation from a scientific perspective and put some research into how our brain handles our music practice, then you will find our brains work best on a ten minute practice to a five to ten second break period. This is information I wish I knew years ago! With this practicing regime I was able to go my full practice hour without getting a headache or feeling strained. If you give this practice schedule a try and find it still isn’t fitting I encourage you to ask your teacher what they would advice for specific break periods. If you are not currently taking lessons, then listen to your body and set designated time limits. No matter where you are STOP and relax at that given time. Length and frequency of break times will dramatically change with each individual person and their musical level.
When you where learning to drive you most likely heard the command NO speeding quite a few times, and then you would groan slowly on the inside and begrudgingly decrease pressure on the gas pedal. Later on you realize your parent, driving instructor or teacher was looking out for your well-being and safety all along. You would think that in a time management article I would be pushing you to achieve more. Just like speeding on the road in the car can be hazardous to your health, speeding through practice can actually do more harm than good.
I’m not sure where I first heard that saying, however it will never be wrong. I have tried convincing myself that if I squeeze an hour’s worth of practice into 25 minutes that is still quality practice. Really if I only had 25 minutes, I should have stuck to one or two specific items to practice them well. Our brains are constantly learning and growing through our musical journey and when we ‘speed’ through, we do not give our brains enough time to catch up and fully grasp what we are trying to learn. Next time you practice take the time and slow down!
3 O’clock Works Great!
I started keeping a planner when I was 13-years-old. To my peers, I was a strange and curious human being. With my crazy schedule I found it necessary in order to keep my sanity and get everything done. Yes, I also double booked myself a few times. I realized I needed to start mapping out my day in order to fit in practice time when I starting using my schedule as an excuse during my piano lessons. I would list off my schedule and give reasons why I didn’t practice the way I should have. However, if we can set-aside time for work, school or anything else in our lives, why can we not set aside an hour for practicing? The answer is that we can, when we manage our time.
I encourage you to invest in a planner or download a free app for your phone and schedule in your practice times. Have a specific time of day that is protected for practice and where you cannot schedule anything else. If mornings are better that works great! Or if you like sleeping in schedule it in the evening. Try different time periods to find out which is the easiest for you and the most convenient for your household.
Get To It!
Time is something that we cannot control. We do, however, get to decide how to spend it. We live in a crazy busy world filled with areas to grow in. I know, for me personally, I can work on managing my time. What about you?
Please let us know what time management tips have helped you by leaving a comment below!
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