Time Boxing: A Trick to Beat Practice Procrastination

Time Boxing is a neat trick you can use to get yourself to do anything that seems, well, boring. It is a marvelous practice tool because it can make those mundane scales that we've all been avoiding fly by in what seems like mere minutes.

The Problem

The hard part about practicing music is getting started on a task that we don't want to do. We dread the thought of doing it, and our minds turn the molehill into a mountain.

The Fix

What we have to do is just get started on the task and get the ball rolling. Momentum can help you keep going because once you get started, you realize it's not nearly as bad as you thought.

The Trick

Here's how Time Boxing works: you take a block of time (say 10 minutes) and you agree to just simply do that task for that amount of time. That's it. Doesn't seem like a trick yet? This is the cool part. You don't have to actually get anything done during this block of time. You just have to do the task. After the time is up, you're done. It doesn't matter if you accomplished anything or not, because you did what you were supposed to: you did the "chore" for the scheduled amount of time.

Revealing the Trick

Still not seeing how this works? Try it once or twice and you will. What happens here is that you are more willing to do the actual work because you know you get to quit soon. That makes the daunting task seem less terrible, and your mind is more willing to work on it.

The super cool part about this is that you will actually get a lot more done that you think. But you don't have to. Don't judge yourself if you didn't get much accomplished; you did exactly what you were supposed to. However, don't be surprised if you get on a roll and get carried away and do the task for more than the required time.

(10 + 2) * 5

There are several methods and variations for using Time Boxing. One of my favorites is the (10+2)*5 method. I use this one all the time, and I highly recommend checking it out. PLEASE do yourself this favor.

Tips to Supercharge it!

  • Get a timer: it's really nice to have something go beep to tell you when your done.
  • Pick a small about of time: don't choose to practice scales for 85 minutes. that will make it seem like forever. Start with 10 or 15 and work your way up to a reasonable number.
  • Do this for everything: the more you do this technique, the more comfortable you get with it, and the more your mind is willing to give in to it. Use it for laundry, dishes, cleaning the house, etc.

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