No matter what your goals are
in life, or on the guitar,
you can succeed bigger and faster,
the more focused you are.
That’s kind of obvious, but
then the question becomes:
how do you increase focus?
I was thinking about this today
and a word phrase streamed
into my mind:
“Set and Setting”…
Timothy Leary coined that phrase.
Now I don’t have room here
to go into the life
and times of Mr. Leary,
although that certainly
is a fascinating subject
all its own…
Needless to say, “Set and setting”
as Tim Leary used it,
referred to the parameters of
a psychedelic drug experience.
In other words, if you drop
acid, your experience depends
on the set (mindset) and setting
(environment) you’re in.
Surprisingly, that’s not much
different from your experience
sitting down to practice an
hour of guitar.
Take a look at your mindset.
Is it free and clear? Or
are you thinking about what
you have to do later today?
I find it helpful to take
maybe 30 seconds and just
do some deep breathing
to try to clear my head.
Another thing that helps
me is just to have a pen
and paper nearby.
Any nagging thought that comes into
my head (example: dont forget
to go to the post office tomorrow),
I just jot it down and then
I can forget. I don’t need to
take up any mental “RAM” with
that thought. Now its out of
my head, onto the paper, and
i’m free to put all my attention
on the guitar.
I also use this trick sometimes
when I’m going to bed and I’ve
got a lot on my mind. Maximizing
the restfulness of sleep is another
powerful way to manage energy.
What about setting?
I think that it helps to have a
pristine environment. I always
keep my office/practice room
I wasn’t always this way — in fact
my natural tendency is to be messy,
always forgetting to put things away
when I’m done with them.
But i’ve changed that in the last year.
And it helps — because its a big energy
drain and focus drain to be in a messy
My friend Jimmy Dillon practices guitar
outside in his garden. You can’t beat that!
I think the computer is a particular challenge
for modern-day guitarists. There’s many
things on the computer that can help, such
as metronomes, videos, tabs, jam tracks, etc.
However, there’s also many things that can
distract us, such as random Youtubes, checking
the news, checking email, windows we left open,
instant messaging, etc.
So a simple way to stay focused is to shut down
all your windows, close the email, close the
webpage, etc… and only keep open what you
If you have tabs or chord charts, it can
help to print them also.
I also like to set a time goal, such as an hour,
for practicing. It helps me to write out
the finish time. If I start practicing
at 5:23, then I write down “6:23” on a small
piece of paper, that way its easier to stick
to the task at hand and not get distracted.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
it takes practice to be good at practicing 🙂
Focus is a muscle and you have to build it up.
Anyway, i’m going to take a shower and get
into some guitar playing myself here…
Thought I’d share my thoughts with you before
I charge on with my day.
P.S. DVDs are a great way to increase your natural
motivation and get fresh material to work on.
Check em out…
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