A lot of your practice productivity has to do with the space itself. We've all been somewhere where it's really hard to focus on being productive; you don't want your practice space to feel like that. Whether it's your personal practice area or your band's rehearsal space, a few hours spent making it well-organized and comfortable is time well spent. Here are eight quick tips to get your practice space in tip-top shape.
1. Declutter it
A clean environment is the key to staying content for many folks. Artsy types often have trouble with organization, but if there's only one clean and organized place in the house, make it your practice space. Keeping the space clear from unnecessary clutter and distractions will give a huge boost to your focus, allowing you to practice more efficiently for longer stretches of time.
2. Create easy access to resources
Make sure that all of the materials you'd need for practicing are easily accessible. Grab a stand for your instrument so you can just grab it and go rather than having to fight with a case and assembly every time you get the urge to practice. Keep a metronome, tuner, method books, paper, writing utensils, and any digital resources that you need nearby (and organized). Time spent tearing your house apart looking for a guitar pick is practice time that's being wasted.
3. Make it single-purpose
Try to really define your practice space, and keep it specifically for that purpose. If it's at all possible within your living situation, have a separate desk/chair for your practicing than you do for other work. If you have the space set aside for practicing specifically, you'll be much less distracted by the other work you're surrounded by. This goes both ways! If you're working on some important business, you won't be distracted as easily by your instrument, and you'll be able to really divide up your time effectively.
4. Remove unnecessary electronics
In our digital world, we're assaulted by a near-constant barrage of beeps and boops in the form of advertisements, messages, calls, news updates, social media notifications, and more. Keep this stuff out of your practice space as much as possible. Time to practice? Shut the phone off, put a lock on your Facebook page, and buckle down for an hour or five. You and your instrument are the only beings that need to be present for your practice time.
5. Make it comfortable
It's hard to practice for more than an hour if your butt aches every time you stand up or the room is blindingly bright (or not bright enough). A comfortable chair and a good light source are quality investments in any productive space. Everybody has preferences as far as comfort goes; make it a goal to make your practice space so comfortable that it'll be difficult to tear yourself away from your instrument.
6. Add inspiring visual stimulation
Practicing becomes much easier when you're inspired. Oftentimes after finishing the decluttering process, you may find that your practice space looks totally square! No fun. Get creative with the visual stimulation in your space. Pleasant colors, posters of artists that inspire you, motivational quotes, and artwork are all great places to start. One of my personal favorites is to string up Christmas lights all over the room. I tried it during my first holiday season in college, and it helped so much with the vibe that I started keeping them up year-round! You might also try lava lamps, colorful rugs/tapestries, or even hanging random funky instruments on the walls! This is probably the most fun and creative aspect of customizing your practice space.
7. Set rules
This applies particularly to band rehearsal spaces. If you've got multiple people utilizing the space, make sure you lay down some clear guidelines if you want to maintain the comfort, cleanliness, and organization you've just set up. Have a band discussion about what everybody can do to help keep the space well-maintained, and write a list of rules to be posted somewhere in the room. It's important to get everybody on board if you want the space to stay organized for more than one rehearsal!
8. Pretend you're going to work
When you head to your practice space, get into the mindset that you're going a job that you really love. I had a saxophone-playing friend of mine once tell me that after his morning coffee, he would get dressed and walk or drive up and down the street a few times to actually simulate a commute to work. He was then in a productive mindset that kept him practicing for hours with no trouble. Upon completing his routine, he'd go through the same procedure to simulate a commute home. This is obviously an extreme example, but any procedure that helps you get into a "working" mindset will help you stay focused for longer periods of time.
You may also want to read:
- How to Create a Productive Practice Space
- 4 Practice Routine Tips to Progress Faster on Your Instrument
- How to Get the Most Out of Your Band Rehearsal in 3 Hours (or Less)
- 5 Practice Tips for Busy Lives
- 7 Dangers of Over-Rehearsing
Dylan Welsh is a freelance musician and music journalist, based in Seattle, WA. He currently plays in multiple Seattle bands, interns at Mirror Sound Studio, and writes for the Sonicbids blog. Visit his website for more information.