You love playing your instrument and you know the challenge of learning a new sonata or samba is a great way to unwind, but your biggest challenge is finding time to practice in the first place.
Here are 11 ways to juggle life with your music time so you can always have music in your life.
1) Track Your Time.
Before you begin trying to manage your time better, take time to figure out where your time goes. Keep a log for one week of how much time you are spending on various tasks. Try to guess how long a task will take before you begin. You will probably be surprised at how much time is wasted in any given day.
2) Set Priorities and Goals.
What are the most important things you need to accomplish in any given day? If you make your music as much a priority as eating dinner and walking the dog, you will be less likely to let something else get in the way of your practice time. What is your musical goal for this week, month, or year?
3) Own Your Time.
Do not allow others to make commitments of your time without your permission. Before you grant permission be sure to understand how much of your time any commitment will take. Carefully choose the tasks you want to invest your time in, and learn to say “no.”
4) Delegate and Buy Time.
Don’t feel you have to do everything yourself. What tasks could other members of your family help you with? Are there some tasks (such as lawn care or housecleaning) that you could be paying someone else to do?
5) Accept Imperfection.
Doing an “OK” job is fine sometimes. Many tasks can be streamlined if this principle is followed. A task can also be finished later or tomorrow if there is something more important that needs your attention.
Set up a filing system and keep a family calendar. Organize closets and other storage areas, and set up a simple filing system. Set up your entranceway so it is easy to find your purse, briefcase, keys, practice bag, instrument, and so forth. The more organized you are the less time will be wasted looking for things.
7) Do It Now.
When you find yourself procrastinating, take time to think about why. Are you afraid of failure or is it just an unpleasant task? Come up with a series of steps to accomplishing the task and start by completing just one of the steps. The satisfaction from completing that step will energize you to complete the job.
8) Work with Your Internal Clock.
Are you a morning person, a night person, or do you have an energy spurt every afternoon? Figure out what time a day you are most efficient and schedule the most difficult tasks during that time.
Okay, you may not be able to practice your saxophone while waiting for your daughter at the dance studio, but why not bring your score with you and read through the music visually. Bring a pencil and annotate trouble spots. Practice moving your fingers through difficult sections. You will be surprised how much more efficient your next practice session becomes.
Make a daily schedule that includes a slot dedicated to practicing your instrument. Make sure your family understands that this time is critically important to you and will only be changed in case of emergency. And then stick to it!
11) Keep It Set.
Maintain a spot in your house dedicated to your hobby. In your music room (or music corner) keep your instrument, music, and accessories ready to go. Setting up can take a while, and eat into precious playing time. Remember, many short practice sessions (10 to 20 minutes) are better than one or two long ones (an hour or more).