Regaining Focus

bass_layingI have often heard that the key to achieving your goals is focus.  It’s a simple concept really, but one that I can’t say that I have put much stock in, until recently that is.  Lately I have found when I start to do something creative I am easily distracted.  Sometimes I feel like I am almost looking for things to sidetrack me.  I may have every intention to play my bass, but I keep inventing road blocks to keep me from it.  Mundane things, like it’s too cold, or hot, or I don’t have enough time to devote to it today so why bother.  It’s always something.  I know I am just procrastinating, but I am not sure why.  Fortunately I am starting to recognize when I am doing this, which to me is the first step in breaking this bad habit.

When I truly focus on a task, I find that not only do I achieve my goal, but I do so quickly and efficiently.  I’m starting to realize that even if I only have 15 minutes to practice today, if I truly focus, I can still be productive and improve my skills.  When I do have a significant chunk of time to devote to practicing I have learned that if I close my email app and my web browser (unless I’m utilizing online learning resources) I get a lot more done.  With no alerts popping up to distract me I am free to focus solely on the music.  It actually kind of liberating.

I find that I can accomplish so much more when I adopt this working style.  Suddenly I have the time to run through half my bands set list, work on my TMBG lessons and even write a blog post, where before I would be lucky to achieve one of these things in the same amount of time.

In today’s digital, instant gratification world, it’s easy to get caught up in it to the point of information overload.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, feeling like you never have enough time to get the things done that you want to, take a step back and try to just focus on one task.  Remove any unnecessary distractions and just play, or write, or whatever it is you need to do.  I bet you too will find that you can accomplish more than you ever thought you could.  Just focus.


7 Tips For Overcoming Learning Blocks

Bass_LayingThe dreaded “Learning Block”, at some point we all have one. Characterized as a point that you just can’t seem to move beyond. It may occur while trying to learn a new concept or technique, or maybe a new song. You get to a certain level and you just can seem to move beyond it. You become frustrated and have the urge to give up, to walk away.

So what do you do? How do you push through?  Here are 7 tips that I use to for overcoming learning blocks when they occur.

1. Analyze Your Approach

Sometimes you need to step back from what you are trying to learn and analyze your approach. When I get stuck I try to break the material down into smaller chunks, mastering each bit before moving on to the next one. Once I have mastered all of the bits, I then work on putting them together as a complete piece. Trying to do too much at once can be very overwhelming. Remember not to bite off more than you can chew.

2. Focus

Look to remove any distractions and set clear, attainable goals to focus upon. When I truly focus on a task, I find that not only do I achieve my goal, but I do so quickly and efficiently.

3.  Keep a Log

To clearly see improvement we must log our practice sessions. In this way we can track our advancement, no matter how small. Along with a written log, you should aim to record yourself at least once a week to further analyze your playing.

4. Take Another Road

Look to other sources for the same information, sometimes learning is all in the presentation. I may learn something just fine by reading through material in a book, but you may learn better by watching a video demonstration of it. Look at it from another angle, especially if you find the material you are working from is too complicated.

5. Take a Break

Don’t work too long or push yourself too hard. Taking a break can help to clear your mind. If you are completely frustrated, step away for awhile, sleep on and come back to it the next day approaching the problem from a new direction.

6. Know When Your Beat

If you don’t have the fundamental skills needed, you may need to stop, reassess your skill set and decide whether or not you are ready to tackle the task at hand. This is what I did after I first reviewed Lesson 13 of Teach Me Bass Guitar. I realized that I was not yet ready to proceed, so I spent some time shoring up my existing skills.

7. Don’t Give Up

Always keep practicing. Don’t get caught up in trivial things, focus on what is important. If you feel stuck look at your practice routine and mix things up a bit, perhaps you just need a change. Try to practice everyday in order to internalize what you are trying to learn.

Good luck in Overcoming your Learning Blocks!

If you have any additional tips or seek help, feel free to share in the comments.