I have spent many years and countless hours creating "to do" lists for myself and they have taken many forms, from handwritten lists to sophisticated apps.
They always center around the thing I want to, need to or should do. I have gotten better (thanks largely to the book "Getting Things Done" and the Wunderlist app) at breaking things down into actionable items and prioritizing my tasks.
One area I completely stink at is recognizing when an item no longer needs to be on the list. It could be that my priorities or interests have shifted. Or that what I thought I "needed" to do was an illusion. Or that what I REALLY need to do is to let go of things, instead of adding them.
So I have created a different sort of list. A "to don't" list. I'm not perfect at any of these which is why they are on the list. For the purposes of this post, I am limiting myself to "to-don'ts" related to practicing. They can of course be generalized or modified to fit pretty much any need.
Here's my current "to don't" list:
- I don't compare myself to others (only to my own potential or progress).
- I don't worry about new toys (or techniques or fads) over basic foundation building.
- I don't waste time on unimportant stuff, or things I can already play or do.
- I don't beat my head against a wall once I inevitably hit it (breaks the wall and gives me a headache).
- I don't let fear control what I do or don't practice.
- I don't assume I know how I sound w/out recording myself.
- I don't practice haphazardly without clear goals for each year/season/month/week/day/session.
- I don't sacrifice practice quality (tone, time, technique) for practice quantity (time on face).
What is your list? What can you stop doing TODAY, that will help you take even a small step towards your goals?
Ignore Nike! Just DON'T do it!
Feel free to fire off questions or comments and grab a free PDF of my book "Music Practice Coach" by visiting me at musicpracticecoach.com.