The 15-Minute Rule

Here's the thing, I have way too much going on to sit a practice all day. I know, that's lame. I wish it was not that way. But I have a severe case of ADHD that has never been diagnosed and enough ambition to make ole Teddy Rosevelt say, "Maybe slow down a little, bud."

Here’s the thing, I have way too much going on to sit a practice all day. I know, that’s lame. I wish it was not that way. But I have a severe case of ADHD that has never been diagnosed and enough ambition to make ole Teddy Rosevelt say, “Maybe slow down a little, bud.” 

I pretty sure this man never slept, ever.

I can’t always drop what I’m doing to pick up a guitar or practice some vocal runs. Sure, on paper, it’s easy to allocate time to practice. YOU HAVE TO PRACTICE!I don’t care who you think you are, you have to practice. But those watershed days don’t come as frequently as I wish they would. I make it sound like it’s a bad thing to have a lot going on, and it can be. I will say this, practice is the most important thing you can do as a musician, it’s also, funny enough, one of the most overlooked parts of being a musician! What can we do when we’ve noticed that we have gotten ourselves into a crazy schedule? Oh, I’ve got plans for you… you know I do! 

Ladies and gentledudes, I​ offer you the 15-minute rule. 

If you only lift weights once every other week, then you’re not getting stronger, you are torturing yourself for no reason… Okay, I mean technically it’s better than nothing, but not by much. If you lift every day for 15 minutes, you will actually see some results! Albeit, it will take time, but it will happen for you. The critical concept is consistency, and that’s how you improve with music, or lifting weights, or getting a better jump shot, or writing! That little bit every day helps us to progress much faster than one three hour session once a week. Isn’t that funny? I promise you’ll get more done in that time as well. It isn’t logical, it just happens. Kind of like when Julia Roberts married Lyle Lovett, it defies logic and all of its wisdom.

See guys, blackmail does work.

The trick comes in getting our body/mind/soul aligned with doing the action. The 15-minute rule isn’t the end of the line, it’s the start of the habit. Apply this rule when you have found yourself lost in your daily routine.

Let me tell you my favorite thing about the 15-minute rule – it’s really sneaky. 15 minutes goes by fast! I mean, stupid fast. The hardest part of any practice session??? Easy, it’s the sitting down to actually start practicing part. That part sucks WAY more than actually practicing. With the fifteen-minute rule, you trick yourself into thinking you’re only practicing for fifteen minutes. Almost every single time I start on something, I end up going much longer than fifteen minutes. 

I will be honest, I​ feel overwhelmed thinking about how much should be practicing. Let’s make it easier for us, though. Maybe you’ve heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours Rule from the book Outliers? If you have no idea what that is, Gladwell points out that develop world-class expertise in some skill is through practicing the correct way for 10,000 hours.

Gladwell writes for The New Yorker, I will include a link to the article where he briefly explains how he came to this conclusion. I’ll include a link to the article here, it’s a great/quick read.

Maybe you don’t want to have some world-class talent, that’s okay! You don’t have to be a virtuoso! No matter where your talent level sits, the best thing you can do is to consistently practice. 

Now the first time I heard this, my optimistic peanut brain thought. Great, I’ll get that done by the end of the year. Oh, sweet, sweet Dean… you’re so dumb. You don’t have to reach the 10,000-hour mark at the end of the year (also, there are only 8,760 hours in a year).

It would take nearly 4 years of practicing 8 hours every dayto get 10,000 hours down. It’s not a race to get there. No, it’s a slow journey and something that should be enjoyed! Since most of us do not have 8 hours every day to dedicate towards our passion, let’s take a look at what we do have. We do have fifteen-minutes, in fact, you have fifteen-minutes right now. 

You’re not always going to want to practice, you’re not always going to be so focused on your end goal of becoming a master. Sometimes, you just don’t touch your craft, and that can be dangerous. The fifteen-minute rule helps us when we’re starting out, it helps us when we’re feeling lazy. It helps to keep us sharp. It’s not the end game, it’s the spark that gets us ready for that fire to set in our souls. 

You have fifteen minutes today to do what you love. Put the phone down and do it right now.

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