Let me start off first by apologizing for my lack of blog posts over the winter holidays! I had everything getting in my way, from 17+ hour road trips, to illness, to audition prep, to writing a musical!
But fear not, for I now return to the land of blogging!
Speaking of things getting in the way, let’s talk about DISTRACTIONS!
Distractions are a difficult topic to address without sounding like someone from many generations ago saying “Well, you know, in my day we didn’t have smart phones, or THE internet…” Instead, I am coming at you from the perspective of a young, twenty-something whose New Year’s Resolution it is to make this year the most productive one yet!
Now, we all get distracted, and things come up that are sometimes out of our control. While situations like these, more often than not, can not be avoided, this makes it even more important to use our time that is free of hassles to be productive! FOR EXAMPLE, I was “preparing” for an audition in the weeks before winter break. I use quotes because this “preparation” included me playing excerpts over and over and dismissing many mistakes because “I will have time to practice over the winter break, right?” WRONG.
What was supposed to be a 12-hour car trip home turned into nothing short of an incredibly frustrating, 17-hour car trip. Needless to say, I did not practice that first day of break. Then it was the Christmas season which means lots of socializing, family gatherings, and FOOD! Shortly after Christmas I came down with something weirdly reminiscent of the flu. While the flu did not stick around long, a wonderful double-ear-infection soon replaced it. Fast-forward a week when I am making a three-day car trip across the country to my audition location. This journey included me practicing for thirty minutes a day in various hotel bathrooms.
While my situation may seem extreme, this like this DO happen. And before you know it, your lovely 3.5-week break for practicing turns in to a 1-week CRAM SESSION for a professional audition. Needless to say, I did NOT win that audition.
While I could not have avoided most of what happened to me over break, I definitely could have been more productive in the weeks leading up to it. Here are a few pointers for getting a head start on your productivity:
1) Make sure you are practicing in an environment that is conducive to productivity! While this may seem like a giant “DUH” for some, I have had students tell me that they practice in the kitchen while their mother is making dinner, and trying to feed their 6-month-old, younger sibling. Try, for starters, choosing a space that is QUIET, CONTAINED, and FREE OF DISTRACTIONS!
2) Speaking of distractions: address your cell-phone situation. These days, most people have a smart-phone which puts much of the world at your fingertips. While this luxury has many benefits, one thing it is NOT benefiting is your practice time. Try turning your phone COMPLETELY off (as in NO POWER). If you use your phone for apps such as a metronome, tuner, or as a recording device, they most likely do not require a connection, so put your phone in Airplane Mode. This way, you are not tempted (and can not for that matter) browse the internet, or just casually check Facebook for that minute that turns in to an hour. If you need to start with baby steps, just start by silencing your phone! I, for one, actually leave my phone outside of my practice space. Cut off the temptation at it’s source!
3) Try placing something in your practice space that you think promotes productivity. I read an article recently saying that people who have plants on their desks are more productive than people with no plants on their desks. Basically, the plants provide “attention restoration.” In the article, it also says that inanimate objects can have the same effect. SO, if you have a favorite artist (musical, visual, etc.), try hanging up a poster of them or their work. You will be surprised, when you look at your “attention restorer,” how quickly your brain will snap back to attention!
I know there are only three suggestions listed above, but once you become aware of your not-so-productive habits, your can address those habits, and oftentimes cut them off at their source! As with all of my blog suggestions, HAVE FUN and BE CREATIVE!
Let me know how your productivity progresses!