You know what they say about developing any new skill: practice makes perfect. But what they often omit is that practice takes time, too – a lot of it. But if you’re a student, that resource is never abundant.
If you’re reading this, you’ve realized just how much you’re struggling to polish off your guitar skills. But don’t worry: you’re hardly the only student in the world who’s run into this kind of problem.
What’s even better is that its solution isn’t rocket science, either. Yes, it requires some effort on your part, but there’s nothing overly complicated about time management itself. All you need to do is follow these seven tips.
1. Know Where Your Time Goes
Before you think about how to start playing the guitar more often, you should get to know your current time-spending habits. Take a week or two to just keep living your life as-is and track how much time various activities take. Make sure to add these to your log:
- Studying (classes, homework);
- Entertainment (watching TV shows, etc.);
- Daily routine;
Then, pinpoint the activities that you can cut down on. For example, if you’re buried under homework for hours on end, you can always outsource some of it to services like EssayPro to reduce the workload. Or, if you can’t help watching four episodes of a TV show in one go, make it a rule to limit yourself to one episode per day.
2. Learn to Love Planning
Time management is practically synonymous with planning, and it’s for a good reason. You can’t use this scarce resource wisely without it.
Planning is typically done in one out of two ways. Some people prefer to use calendars and schedule everything in them. Others find daily to-do lists and weekly/monthly planners more helpful.
That said, there are some tried-and-true tips to help you ace your planning:
- Keep track of the deadlines;
- Always aim to finish tasks a day or two before the deadline;
- Break down big tasks into smaller ones and approach them one by one;
- If a task doesn’t have an inherent deadline, set one for yourself – and stick to it;
- Add exercising, resting, socializing, and enjoying your hobbies to your to-do list;
- Keep your plans flexible to be able to deal with surprises and emergencies;
- Review your planning methods and tweak them if they don’t work that well for you.
3. Add Guitar Practice to the Schedule
Since you want to make time for this one activity in particular, here’s the best thing you can do: add “playing the guitar” to your schedule. Be specific about the time and the length of the session – and don’t talk yourself out of it if you don’t feel like playing!
There are two ways you can go about practicing your guitar skills:
- Set aside an hour or two for sessions twice or three times a week,
- Or pick up the guitar every day for at least 15-30 minutes.
While it’s up to you to decide which way you choose, let’s make the case for the second option on the table. For one, if you enjoy strumming the guitar, it can be your self-care routine to help you unwind after a day of studying. Plus, it’s easier to find 15-30 minutes for it than to set aside two whole hours!
4. Avoid the Planning Fallacy
For any kind of plan to work as intended, it has to be realistic enough. But most people aren’t great at estimating how much time they need to finish this or that task – even if they’ve done it before.
There are two major reasons behind that:
- Human memory isn’t the most reliable thing on Earth: unless you make an effort to time it, you probably won’t have an accurate estimate of your session’s duration;
- A lot of variables impact how much it takes to do something. Your level of energy, time of the day, and even your current mood can speed up or slow down the way you work.
To avoid falling into this trap, whenever you need to schedule working on one task or another, multiply its duration by 1.5 if you’ve done it before or by 2 if you haven’t.
5. Set Your Priorities Straight
To ace time management, you need to learn to rank your tasks from most to least important. But how do you know what’s more or less important?
Well, it’s a subjective descriptor, so there’s no way to give you a definitive answer. For example, let’s say playing the guitar is just a hobby for you. Then, it’ll be lower on your list of priorities than if you’re planning to choose music as your minor – or if you want to start a music band later on.
To generalize, you need to assess every activity’s urgency and value. Each of them will then fall into one of these four categories:
- Urgent and valuable. These tasks will rank first on the priority list.
- Urgent but not-so-valuable. They will come in second – but you might be able to drop some of them.
- Non urgent but valuable. You might want to assign a deadline for such activities and schedule them.
- Non urgent and not valuable. What do these tasks even do on your list?
6. Minimize Procrastination
Procrastination is a black hole that your free time is sucked into. But, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just the act of watching YouTube or scrolling the social media feed.
Only if you engage in such activities to consciously or subconsciously delay doing something, then it counts as procrastination. And here are several pieces of advice to minimize it:
- Recognize it as procrastination. Ask yourself, “Is there something else I should be doing right now?”
- Understand the root cause. Why are you delaying doing this or that? Does it seem too huge of a task? Maybe, you don’t think you’ll enjoy it? Or, maybe, you’re afraid that you won’t do a good job?
- Work on the root cause. Celebrate small milestones. Tweak the process to make it more enjoyable. Combat your perfectionism with some affirmations.
- Use the five-minute rule. Promise yourself to spend five minutes on the task you’re avoiding. Usually, it’s enough to get you hooked up.
7. Maximize Your Productivity
Last but not least, the more you can achieve within a set period, the faster you’ll be done with all the essential tasks. That means – you’ve guessed it, – more time for your hobbies and other self-care activities!
But to achieve maximum productivity, you need to get to know yourself (if you haven’t yet):
- What typically breaks your concentration?
- What time of the day are you usually your most focused self?
- What gets you into ‘the zone’ (e.g., a rocking playlist, a cup of coffee)?
Here are six general tips on keeping yourself productive throughout the day:
- Plan the most intensive tasks during the high-energy part of the day;
- Take breaks every hour;
- Be active: go for a walk or do a short workout every day;
- Remove all potential distractions: put away your smartphone, block distracting websites, etc.;
- Set up a dedicated study space;
- Avoid multitasking.
Making time for something when you have tons of classes and assignments might seem inconceivable, but there’s nothing impossible about it. All you need to do is make an effort to review your current habits and start planning.
And If there’s any final piece of advice to give, it’s this: it’ll take you a while to figure out which tips and habits work for you and which ones don’t. So, don’t hesitate to tweak the way you approach time management – and listen closely to yourself!
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