Expand Your Practice Regimen Explosively

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Select three dream licks

Let's begin the planning part of your ten day challenge. The first thing you must do is to find three licks that you would really, really like to master. Don't aim too low when you select them: They have to be so far away from your current skill level that they really inspire you. Ideally, the thought of "acquiring" them should make you feel like a little kid before Christmas eve.

Also the three licks should be related, in the sense that you need similar skills to play them. The brain tends to get bored playing the same lick over and over again, so you want to give it some variety by having three licks instead of one. But the way to really get the most out of these ten days, is to practice three licks that requires the same kind of technique, but used in slightly different ways.

Choose intelligently

Be sure to limit the amount of challenges that you take on. For instance: Playing a lick that passes through all six strings is a much great challenge than playing the same sequence of note on only two strings. You should make sure that you are not practice two things at once, this will make it impossible for the brain to digest the information you give it. Read more about this under the category "Get more out of practice"

The first time you do this, it's a good idea to avoid licks that you don't believe you can learn within the ten days. This is important: Though you should be ambitious in your choice, don't be unrealistic. And by "unrealistic" I mean - don't embark on a mission that you don't believe in. Look at the time you have allotted and let that be your guide. Only you can decide what is unrealistic. It depends on who you are. I have a tendency to take on too much, but my persistence makes up for my lack of judgement. If you are on a roll right now then, by all means, be as ambitious as you want. But if you have had a lot of frustrating experiences lately, be sure to set your self up to win; choose licks that you both really desire to master - and that you believe you can learn with the time you have available.

Now let's create a schedule

Now it's time to create a lot of 30 minute practice slots in your calendar. Notice that I wrote "create", I could have written "find" instead. But chances are that your schedule is already fully booked. So we really need to create some extra time here, not find it. In the rest of the article I'm going to give you some ideas on how you can create vastly more time to practice.

How to find the time to practice massively

The first thing I would like you to do, is to pull out your calendar and start blocking out sections of 30 minutes, every day for the next ten days. I'm asking you to create appointments with yourself that you honor just as you would honor an appointment with a special person in your life. This is a vital part of the ten day breakthrough strategy so don't take it lightly. The planning process is essential. Create as many 30 minute appointments as you can. When you're done blocking out those time slots, it's time to get really creative:

Enroll your team members

Talk to the people around you, that might be affected by your ten day practice regimen. Tell them what  it is you are doing and why you are doing it, - and most importantly; tell them that's it wont last forever. Tell them what it means to you to be able to grow and learn new things and expand in your ability to express yourself. And most importantly: Ask for help! How much extra practice time can you create, with a little help from the people around you?

Cut down on other activities

How much time can you create if you drop other activities? Remember this is ten days only. What could you cut down on or not do at all, for these ten days? Are there any activities that you can put on hold? Think hard before you go on, then carve out those hours and minutes also.

Get up early

Are you truly committed to reaching a new level of skill? Are you really one of the few who do, versus the many who talk? Then get up two hours before anyone else in the morning. Set your alarm clock and decide to literally jump out of bed the next morning. Get up, get dressed and practice for two full hours (With small breaks every 30 minutes) before the rest of the world wakes up. The trick is to get out of your bed the second the bell rings, not 5 seconds later but the instant your hear the sound of the clock. Get up before your brain begins to whine and moan. Then make the most of those precious hours.

Stay fresh and alert

But won't you suffer from sleep deprivation and not function normally the rest of the day? This is where the next supporting strategy comes in: Eat a light diet. Eat salads and a lot of vegetables at dinner and avoid animal fat and proteins. This will give your body less to digest and you'll sleep much better. Then drink lots of water during the day to help the body get rid of toxins and the like. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and move as much as you possibly can during the day, to keep your brain active and alert. Go to bed earlier. Cut out the last inactive hour in front of the television and go to bed instead.

13 Note Neoclassical Shred

This is a very simple but uneven run. Simple in it's construction and uneven in it's numbers. You get a nice break from the strain of alternate picking every time you turn around the 13 notes. Remember to break it down into chunks of 13 notes and practice them seperatly before you put them together.

Take a day off, or two...

Taking time off to be with the ones we care about, comes natural to us. But how often do we take time off to be with ourselves? If you can, take a couple of days of just to practice. And then make sure that everyone around you are aware of what's going on. Be very clear about what you are doing and how important it is to you, so that other people won't see your practice time as "free time" where you can be interrupted at will. Be sure to let people know that you are actually working, when you are practicing. And that this is just as important to you , as the work you do to make money. Could you take a day off? Could you take two days off? One or two full days of practice in the middle of the ten days can really make a huge difference.

Use the weekend to it's fullest

How much of the weekend can you reserve for practice? Could you agree to do something special for your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse in return for two eight hour practice sessions in the weekend? Think about it and ask before you discard the idea.

Schedule TV practice

Find out what's on the TV during the next ten days. Then schedule time for TV practice (There's an article on that subject on this website) Practicing in front of the TV is an amazing way to build basic picking skills. During those 90 minutes that most movies last, you can play the same pattern several thousand times without getting bored! This is such an effective way to build skills, that you should be sure to incorporate it every day for the ten days.

Create a visual plan

Be sure not to put this ten day challenge off, even if your schedule isn't exactly ideal. Go for it with the resources you have right now. You can always repeat the challenge later and plan it well in advance. Now it's important that you create some kind of visual representation of your plan. Preferably something you can hang on the wall, showing each of the days with the blocked out practice time. Be sure to discuss the plan with everyone who might be influenced by it - and have them agree to what you have decided. Then put the plan in a spot that you'll see several times a day. Set up reminders in your electronic calendar if you have one. If you have a cell phone (duh) create one reminder for each and every practice session you have scheduled. Be sure to make it virtually impossible for you to forget anything.

The select few

Few people will follow through with all this. They'll read it, maybe get a little inspired - and then they'll put it off to a later time. A select few will do it, and really go for it full tilt. These are the ones that everyone will point their fingers at and say "Look how talented they are" but you'll know the truth: Talent has very little to do with it. Ultimate killer guitar skills are available to everyone who chooses to stretch themselves further. And it's not a matter of self discipline and "tedious work" It's matter of choosing to love the process of pushing beyond mediocrity. Create your plan now. Decide when you are going to talk to people about it. Go through the list of ideas in this article and exploit every single one of them to the fullest. Don't put it off - act now, and take the next step towards mastery.