I ask my violin students to play their instruments every day for a set amount of time. Rather than set guidelines as to how many times they should rehearse their scale, piece, or a certain line of music, I suggest they acknowledge boundaries of time. For example, if they have 30 minutes to play, they ought to spend 10 minutes on scales and arpeggios, 10 minutes on etudes and 10 minutes on their main composition. Of course, each of these time segments could be further broken up into smaller bites, each one used for a smaller detail or skill.
There are two reasons why this kind of playing is effective. First, it involves goal-setting and decision-making, and this up front rather than part way through. Second, it helps free up brainpower to problem-solve musical and technical concerns. If my goal is only to do something a certain number of times, I will naturally attempt to get through this quota as fast as possible. There are obvious problems with this. By surrendering to limitations of time, I give myself space to find unique solutions.
This morning I’m thinking about how this applies to the way I spend my work/design/reading/making time.