I have spent a lot of time in researching ways to optimize practice time due to frustrations in my original method of trying to learn things quickly through brute force and mindless repetition.
When we practice their are a number of requirements I have learned that must be met to get the absolute most benefit from the time spent.
These can be broken down to:
Whenever I sit down for one of my practice sessions I have 10 steps that I strive to follow in order to make the best use of my time. The 10 Steps to Potent Practicing are as follows.
Warm Up The Brain And Body To Prepare For The Work Ahead
01. Warm up the body through stretching and movement. If you are practicing once you wake up then a brisk walk will flood your body with energy while waking up your mind, making you much more mentally alert.
02. Have a clear and specific goal for what you intend to achieve in your session. This increases motivation and focus producing faster results.
03. When first picking up the guitar, remind yourself how the instrument feels by playing long note durations with the greatest ease and familiarize to playing the instrument.
Dealing With The Music
04. Choose a section to focus on. This might be two bars or two lines but make sure it is small enough to focus on specific problems without being overwhelmed.
05. Visualise the passage or section you are about to play and try to make it as vivid as possible. This means hearing in your head what you are about to play as clear as possible. Instead of da-da-da-da make it DA-DA-DA-DA.
06. Play it with as much feeling as you can no matter what tempo you are playing the passage at.
07. Observe and decide if you are getting the desired result.
08. Pause and give your body and mind time to digest what you just did.
09. Decide whether there is anything you should change to get a better result. For example, should you slow the tempo down? Is there another fingering that might work better? How could I improve the next run through? Doing this eliminates the habit of mindless repetition which I myself have been guilty of.
Taking A Break
10. Approximately every 15-20min, or more depending on your energy levels and other factors. You will need to take a break to clear your head. A simple walk around for 5min will keep you're productivity levels high.