Makes sense, I mean it’s not like you can just magically wake up one day and all of the sudden gain the ability to do a kickflip on a skateboard. A skill like that does indeed require some sort of practice in order to master.
But I’m too lazy to get off the couch yet alone put in the effort to actually practice, at least the way it’s implied when we’re told to do so. It’s implied that you either make it or break it. It’s like the definition of practice is “get good”, rather than what it actually means: “make progress”.
Practice, the way people portray it, sounds like such an arduous task. I mean, it’s assumed that in order to practice and make it worthwhile, you have to go no holds barred. Go all or nothing. There’s a lot of pressure in practicing.
It’s as if you don’t do a really good job at practicing then you’re a failure. It’s also assumed you should spend a ridiculous amount of time practicing in order to make any sort of noteworthy accomplishment.
What the fuck? Practice is at the core doing a BAD job at something until you can actually do it quite decently, not something you should just naturally be good at. The whole notion that you need “good practice” is insane. What you need is practice. Period. Practice for the sake of practice.
I mean I’m not saying you should practice bad habits. What I am saying though is that you shouldn’t worry yourself about fucking up or making mistakes during practice. That’s why it’s PRACTICE. You eventually get better. You eventually improve upon those mistakes, iron out the kinks. You get good without trying to get good because you are practicing.
If you set out to master a skill, you probably won’t master it at all. You’ll get bored or tired before you even reach that point. But if you set out to fuck it up a bunch of times, guess what? You’ll probably actually master the thing you wanted to.
They say practice makes perfect. False. Practice makes improvement. The goal of practice is simply to get better, not strive for the impossible, contrary to popular belief. You fuck up until you fuck up a bit less. That’s all.
Even the most skilled athletes have off days, even the most talented musicians make mistakes. Perfection is unachievable and unachievable goals aren’t worth the effort, man.
While there is value in the art of practice, it’s not so much about getting right. It’s about getting it wrong until you get it right, if that makes sense.
Anyway, there’s always a lazy way to do things, including mastering talents and skills. Today we’re gonna get into how to Practice with Procrastination.
More practice isn’t always better.
There’s this faulty notion that in order to see any results from your practice that you must pour hours upon hours on enhancing your skill of choice.
But true practice is spending any amount of time, even a brief moment, just a few minutes, doing the thing with complete and utter focus. If you want to learn guitar or be able to slam dunk or whatever the case may be, it doesn’t need to be a HUGE time investment on your part. Give it a little bit of time, then go back to lying on the couch. Don’t try to strum ‘til your fingers bleed or anything. Do just enough.
Consistency is stronger than persistence. Consistently practice daily for a short amount of time, rather than persisting through long sessions of practice. You’ll get better slowly over time.
It’s better to practice just a half hour every single day than it is to have a 4 hour straight jam session just once a week. Be consistent in how long and how often you practice and don’t try to make your sessions too long unless you can actually maintain that length consistently.
Plus, the longer you practice, the more likely you are to lose focus in what you’re doing and you’ll start “going through the motions” without consciously aiming for improvement (the entire point of practice in the first place).
Have a goal in mind, a tangible one. Not something vague like “I want to be an awesome guitarist”. But something striaght forward and simple like “I want to be able to play this scale.”
Before you even start your practice session, procrastinate jumping in right away and know what it is you want to achieve. Don’t just pick up and start practicing. Focus first, then practice.
Have a specific objective in mind. Don’t play the instrument just to play the instrument. Don’t dribble the ball just to dribble the ball.
Ask yourself: Why am I about to practice?
A vague answer like “to get better” is not good enough. What is it you want to get better at? Be specific.
I mean if you’re gonna get your ass out of bed to practice something, you might as well have a solid freakin’ reason and not some ambiguous shit.
[Embrace your inner sloth and be deliberate.] Decisively choose which branch to grab in order to climb higher, that is to say, choose which part of the skill you want to improve upon, before trying to raise your skill up to higher heights.
If you don’t look where you’re going, you’ll end up lost. Make a direction and stick to it. Don’t wander around aimlessly in your practice hoping to some day to get better. Lay out a specific path to actually get there.
First of all, have in mind what “better” even constitutes as. Does it mean you can play a specific chord without messing up? Does it mean you can do a backflip on the trampoline with your eyes closed? Does it mean you can do said backflip without a trampoline?
Know what it is you want out of your practice.
I mean, in archery you know you want to hit the bullseye, but I think that analogy could be used for any skill. Know where the bullseye is and take aim. Don’t shoot just to shoot and say “but I practiced.”
No, you didn’t, and someone took an arrow to the knee! Be deliberate and take aim for the bullseye, rather than getting all trigger happy and firing randomly. Shooting doesn’t count unless you hit the bullseye (and know where it is for that matter), that is to say practicing doesn’t count unless you have a deliberate goal.
Practice should not be hard work but deliberate work.
Speaking of embracing your inner sloth, when you practice, [be slow. No seriously. Slow. It Down.]
It’s important you take a slow ass time to do things, especially in practice, so that you get a feel for the motion in your body.
Professional athletes will take the time to practice their tricks or maneuvers that they use on the field or on the court using completely slow motion to the point where they can feel every little muscle twitch.
Similarly, musicians will practice scales moving their fingers slowly inch by inch rather than rushing to the next note to play it as quickly as possible.
The premise is that if you can get a solid feel for how every muscle moves while in slow motion, then you can convert that to full speed and know the correct muscle movement.
Practice should never be at full speed though. Full speed should be saved for performance.
The only time you should do full speed during practice is to prove to yourself that you “got it”. That’s more like rehearsal though. Rehearsal is performing without an audience.
Practice is bettering yourself to the point where you deserve to have an audience. You don’t deserve an audience if you always rehearse instead of practice.
It’s better to practice correctly at a slow pace then to practice incorrectly at a fast one.
I mean, what’s the point of sweeping through a scale really fast if you’re missing every other note?
Even if you have reached the point where you’re comfortable enough to do it fast, again, it’s not rehearsal. It’s not performance. It’s practice. Do it nice n’ slow man.
Slow n’ steady wins the race.
Rather than trying to master everything about a new skill all at once, break down big complex acts into small components, bite-sized chunks.
Don’t get yourself all scatter-brained trying to perform an entire acrobat performance all at once. First learn to juggle then learn to jump through hoops. Don’t try to juggle and jump through hoops all at once.
There’s this joke that goes “How do you eat an elephant? ...one bite at a time.”
It’s quite a humorous way to say that even big things that seem impossible, like eating a gigantic mammal, can in fact be done one bite at a time. Ya know, you wouldn’t try to swallow the elephant whole.
If you’re learning a song on an instrument, practice it one note at a time. If you’re learning how to do a trick on your bike, practice it one motion at a time.
Master a skill One. Step. At a time.
Don’t rush it.
Doesn’t matter what level of mastery you are at within a given skill, you are going to make a mistake in trying to get right.
But a bigger mistake than the mistake itself is to just carry on through despite the mistake.
Maybe you keep playing the song if you played the wrong note. Maybe you go through the whole dance if you misstepped. The problem with doing such a thing is that you learn to ignore mistakes rather than learn to get better.
There’s this idea that you should never let mistakes stop you. And to a certain extent, that’s true. You don’t want to let mistakes bring you down or quit entirely.
But mistakes. Yeah. You should let them stop you. You should let them bring you to a complete halt.
Instead of continuing the entire act after the mistake..stop at it.
Examine why you made the mistake.
Were your fingers curved a bit too much that you ended up in the wrong fret? Were your toes pointed at a slightly wrong angle causing you to trip?
Don’t just keep talking after you stutter, stop and examine how your mouth is moving.
How did you make the mistake? is what you need to know and you can’t know that if you just trdge on through it.
The next step would be to really hone on into the mistake. Practice that specific part of the overall act.
Stopping at your mistake allows you to see your weakness. It’s better to heal those weaknesses rather than pretend they aren’t even there.
Practice is repetition. Just don’t repeat your mistakes. Stop at them until you get them right.
Ahh, taking a break. Definitely a procrastin8r thing to do. You need breaks. They’re essential. Seriously.
Grinding it out nonstop is gonna lead to burn out. You’ll lose motivation to continue practicing and you’ll lose focus on what improvements need to be made if you go on for too long.
Put aside practice and break once in a while, reflect on how you did and where you need to go. Relax.
A break gives you both the physical and mental rejuvenation that you need in order to practice another day.
Again, you want to remain consistent in your practice time. By giving yourself plenty of rest, you can guarantee you’ll be up for more practice later. You don’t wanna wear yourself out by pushing yourself through some hardcore long practice session if you can only make it through one.
We always look at successful people and idolize how long they must’ve practiced. What we fail to notice is just how many breaks they must’ve taken in between all that practice. Even the fastest person in the world, Usain Bolt, says he’s a lazy person and likes to chill out.
I mean this guy is a multi Olympic gold medalist, literally the fastest man on Earth, and he needs a break every now n’ then.
Breaks are a necessary part of effective practice.You get a chance to regain energy and a chance to not even have to think about it.
Don’t feel like practicing? Just think about it. After all, it’s the thought that counts.
In between breaks and actually practicing, you can also do a little bite of mental practice. No idea to get off the couch and do anything. Just lay back and think.
There’s this idea dubbed “The Law of Attraction”, which basically states that the more you think about something, the more likely it is to happen.
Celebrities like Jim Carey, Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, and Micahel Phelps swear by it. They have mentioned frequently that a lot of their success came from them simply imagining it happening. In their head, they practiced acting or swimming and soon became the great actors and athletes they are today.
Of course, that’s not to say you can merely think your way to the top. Obviously it wasn’t their thoughts alone that earned Oprah her own talk show or Phelps his multi gold Olympic medals, for example, but it did help.
Even if you don’t feel like actually practicing, you can at least take the time to sit there and imagine doing the thing slowly (motion by motion) so that when you do go through and physically practice, you’ll be prepared to let it out and go with the flow.
Seeing yourself land the trick or play the song is a vital step towards actually doing it. You have to believe you can before you can.
It can be very demotivating if you don’t see any sort of progress within yourself. Progress is slow and you’re not going to learn a new skill overnight or even over a few weeks. It takes years. Years of consistent practice. Years of consistent betterment. Until you level up.
So if you’re not actually viewing the progress, you’ll feel like you’re going no where.
And speaking of leveling up, you can even gamify your progress and turn practice time into game time. I have a whole list of some of my favorite gamification apps, I’ll link [here].
Basically you want to be able to visualize how well you’re coming along with things. You want to be able to view your development over time.
People make progress videos on YouTube all the time, showing how they started and where they got to. Now, you don’t necessarily have to publicize your progress but putting together a sort of montage of how you’ve improved over time or keeping a portfolio can be helpful in encouraging you to keep on practicing.
You can see how much you absolutely SUCKED and don't suck so bad any more. Remember, you’re not aiming to be perfect, just to suck a lot less than you did when you started.
Whether you use a progress video, project portfolio, gamification app, or even a journal, aim to keep track of what your skill then versus now and see it develop in progress.
Practice is Progress at its core, and if you’re not seeing your own progress then it doesn’t feel like you’re practicing has been worthwhile. Remind yourself it is worthwhile by tracking that progress.
Like watching the XP bubble pop up in an RPG after every little swing of the sword, it can be addicting to see how every one of your moves gains you xp IRL.
Half-ass practice is better than NO practice.
As we covered last week, [some things are worth doing half ass than not doing at all]...and practice is one of those things.
Even if you're shitty at your skill, don’t mind it.
Even if you’re absolute trash at playing guitar, keep playing. Even if you miss every pitch, keep throwing. Even if you can barely balance on a skateboard, yet alone pull a trick, keep riding.
The point of practice is not to be good but to become good.
Take some minutes. Just a few. And practice. Again, you don’t need to go balls deep into a multi-hour practice session. You don’t need to work your ass off.
Just do enough with enough focus to be able to tell yourself “I’m getting better.”
Totally half ass it. Hey, that's an oxy moron. Anyway, It’s better to gain a little bit of xp then no xp at all.
Take it easy,