I procrastinate and get distracted very easily when I am faced with doing things that I kind of don’t want to do. Timing myself keeps me focused and helps me accomplish things quickly.
I challenge myself by using the countdown timer on my watch. For example, I don’t enjoy using my computer to write music, but I’ll set a timer for 5 minutes and tell myself, “Before this timer expires, I will have turned on my computer, started the music software, and I’ll have written eight measures of music.” This makes it fun. The hardest part is just getting a project started. By the time I’ve written eight measures, I have the momentum to finish the song.
Or, “In the next five minutes, I will have written an email to book gigs.” When I use a timer, I don’t procrastinate or surf the web- I just sit down and do the work. The timer is also great for writing blog posts. I want to succinctly express an idea, which shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.
There are a multitude of ways to use a timer during practicing as well. If I only have an hour to practice a set of 10 songs, I might set my timer to practice each song for 6 minutes. During that time, I’ll try to identify the one or two most difficult places in each piece and work them out.