Procrastination is the biggest enemy of many beginner guitarists. Typically, after someone has bought their first guitar and had their first few lessons, they will lock themselves in their room for hours and practice until their fingertips are too sore to keep playing.
But after a couple of months, once the initial excitement has worn off, new guitarists often find. It’s not that their ambitions to learn guitar have faded away, it’s just that other things get in the way, and it can be easier to watch TV or surf the internet than to actually sit down and challenge yourself.
Whatever your long term goals are to become a world famous guitar virtuoso, or just to be able to play some of your favourite songs in your living room at home, it’s best to take your big goals and find some small, easily manageable tasks that will help you reach them.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Wanting to become an accomplished guitarist is a worthy goal, but you can’t do it in an afternoon.
Smaller tasks, such as learning a few new chords, becoming familiar with a new scale or mode, or getting some riffs down are the kinds of things you can do straight away.
Setting a specific time aside is crucial for beating procrastination. Don’t just tell yourself you are going to practice for X number of minutes today. Actually schedule a block in your day to practice that long.
For example, if you want to practice for 20 minutes every day, then maybe set aside 6pm until 6:20pm to do it. Then stick to it. Be realistic in your scheduling, work it in with your work schedule, possible delays in traffic, household chores like cleaning and preparing meals, your social plans, your favourite TV shows, whatever.
A lot of the time procrastination can come because you’re not meeting the standards you’ve set for yourself.
When you’re discouraged with the results you’re getting, it’s easy to tell yourself you’ll practice later, when you’re feeling more up to it, or it’s going to work better for you.
Don’t insist on perfection from yourself. You have to practice to get good – you don’t have to be good to start doing the practice. So stop worrying and just do it.
The most important thing is to live a life where practicing is just a part of your ordinary routine. Humans are very much creatures of habit. If you are in the habit of practicing guitar regularly, then it will be easy keep up with it, and you probably won’t even have to think about doing it.
Unfortunately, it goes the other way too: if you are in the habit of not practicing your guitar, it will be very hard to keep at it. And if you’re in the habit of putting it off until later, it will get easier each time.
Eventually, with enough procrastination, you might not even be a guitarist anymore – just one of those guys who owns a guitar that never gets played. Don’t let that happen to you!
Troy Nelson, a celebrated guitar educator from Viroqua, Wisconsin, has significantly impacted guitar learning with acclaimed books like ‘Guitar Aerobics’ and ‘Fretboard Freedom’. His unique journey from Sports Management to leading roles at Hal Leonard Corporation and Guitar One magazine has shaped his approach to guitar education. Now based in Nashville, Nelson specializes in crafting effective guitar practice routines, enhancing players’ skills and technical mastery. His work is a treasure trove for guitar enthusiasts worldwide.