I have been playing the guitar since fifth grade.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing over the course of my life. As a child and teen, I found it easy to practice for hours at once, often losing track of time as I revisited scales or songs.
This was a time where focusing was easy for several reasons. For one, I had fewer demands on my time, as the only real obligation I had was my school work. Additionally, this was a time where there were far fewer distractions to battle. I played the songs that I was trying to learn on CDs, not a smart phone with access to unlimited entertainment and distraction. I found sheet music by printing it out online, not by downloading an app filled with pop-ups, subscriptions buttons, and ads.
I’m grateful that I’ve committed so much time towards a hobby that brings me joy. However, today it is far more challenging to maintain a practice habit.
Between work, family, exercise and more, my time is limited. I often grab the guitar late on a Friday night when everyone else has gone to bed. Or at a spare moment when I need to take a break from the computer screen during the day. I can casually strum familiar songs with ease in these moments, but it’s much more difficult to psyche myself up to learn something new or play something more challenging.
Additionally, these moments of spare time can be fraught with interruptions. Instead of playing music on CDs, I now often open YouTube, which is an endless rabbit hole of distractions. Instead of a sheet music book, I often turn to a guitar tabs app, which is just a click away from texts, emails, social media, and countless other tasks that pull me away from practicing.
It’s a lot harder to find the focus to play than it used to be.
Fortunately, I have a tool that has helped me overcome this overstimulation and find the energy to focus on practicing the guitar. Focusable helps me recharge when I am feeling distracted, refocus on the task of practicing, and then reflect on my experience by recording a short video.
I open Focusable on my phone and set it on my music stand so that I can see it while I play. This helps remind me to manage my attention well. I start with a Recharge activity like Box breathing or Tense relax. This helps me to get ready for the productive struggle. Then I swipe forward.
I use the 5 minute Pulse timer alarm like a warm up period to get myself into my practice quickly. From there, I typically will practice for 20-30 minutes – continually pushing myself to take on the kind of playing challenges that renew my joy for the guitar.
After the session, I swipe to the record screen and play a quick snippet of whatever I’ve been practicing. I can then revisit these recordings over time and get a sense of where I’m improving. I can also share these recordings with fellow musicians that I’ve setup a Focusable group for.
I find it incredibly satisfying when I can make time to practice and challenge myself like this. It elevates my mood for the rest of the evening and into the next day. And Focusable helps get out of the rabbit holes that usually stand in the way.
I would definitely recommend that music teachers or parents who are working with younger musicians try out Focusable too. It can help them cut through the inevitable distraction their kids are experiencing and discover the joy of playing music that I have.