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4 Secrets To Finding The Time To Play Guitar (Or Accomplish ANY Goal)

4 Secrets To Finding The Time To Play Guitar (Or Accomplish ANY Goal)

Secret #1: Make It EASY To Practice Guitar

Priming Your Environment To Reduce “Activation Energy”


     “I’d love to play guitar, but I don’t have the time!”

     Have you ever told yourself that? 

     If you’ve ever been frustrated that you want to practice guitar but don’t seem to have the time or don’t seem to be able to practice, you’re not alone. 

     In fact, as the founder of NYC Guitar School, I’ve found that the biggest barrier to success for our thousands of students isn’t how to practice, or what to practice–it’s finding the time for practice in the first place!

     This isn’t just an issue for guitar players. We all have things we want to do more of in life. Whether you want to exercise more, read more, spend more time with people you love, or really get good at playing guitar, you need to understand the science behind making time to achieve your goals. 

     So in this four part series I’m going to explain four simple yet powerful secrets to making sure that you have the time to do what you love.


Guitar Practice Secret #1: Make It EASY To Practice Guitar

AKA Priming Your Environment To Reduce “Activation Energy”


Make It Easy To Practice

     In science, activation energy is the amount of energy needed to begin a reaction–like the spark that starts a fire. For example, paper burns at around 450 degrees Fahrenheit–easily supplied with a match or lighter. But did you know that iron also burns? Don’t try lighting up a pile of nails with a match, though–because iron burns at 2,399 degrees–way hotter than a building fire or the hottest volcano!

     This concept of activation energy is incredibly useful in setting ourselves up for success in our personal habits! You want to make catching fire at practicing guitar as easy as lighting up a bunch of gasoline soaked rags!

     Imagine walking into your apartment after work–your favorite Netflix series is paused in the middle of an exciting scene on a big screen and your guitar is in a case in your closet under a pile of dirty clothes.

     How much activation energy will it take to play guitar? So much! You’d have to expend energy deciding not to watch TV, then you’d have to open the closet, move the dirty clothes, open the case, get out your guitar, find a place to sit, tune your guitar, decide what to practice–I’m exhausted and de-motivated just writing about it! Let’s just watch TV!

     Now, instead, imagine that you come home and your guitar is tuned and waiting, sitting in a stand, right next to your favorite guitar playing chair. On the table in front of that chair is a chart of your most recent song and a practice plan. It’s so easy and so fun to play guitar!

     Priming your environment to reduce activation energy makes a huge difference in sticking with habits. I’ve used this concept with great success in many areas of life. For example, I sleep in my exercise clothes. In the morning if I’m tired, it literally feels like it would take more energy to change my clothes and take a shower than to simply put on my sneakers and head out the door. This simple change has helped me to exercise 300+ days a year over the past decade.

     Here are some other examples:

    • If you want to read at night, put a book next to your bed.
    • If you don’t want to eat ice cream at midnight, don’t buy ice cream. At midnight you could make a special trip to the 24 hour deli, but that would take an awful lot of activation energy. 
    • At NYC Guitar School, we hung a pullup bar in the office. The result? An awful lot of guitar players with nice biceps!


     What is the one thing you can do to increase your guitar practice time?

     For many people, the easiest way to practice more is by making it inviting and easy to practice by leaving your guitar out on a stand or hanging it from a wall. Plus, guitars are a beautiful and artistic decoration, too!

     So take that guitar out of your closet and put it out where you can see it, next to a great place to practice–and put your guitar book right in front of it!

     And remember

     This concept applies to all areas of life, not just guitar!

     Are there any other activities that you’d like to do more–or less of? How can you apply the concept of activation energy to help you? Remember:

Prime Your Environment To Make It EASY To Do What You Want To Do

(and to make it INCONVENIENT to do what you don’t want to do!)


On To Greatness!

Dan Emery


P.S. If you’re already priming your environment to help you practice, good job! And if you’re still not finding the time to practice, don’t despair–because Priming Your Environment To Reduce Activation Energy is just one of four interlocking secrets to making the time to do what you love! Stay tuned for secrets two through four.

P.P.S. We don’t sell guitar stands! But here is a link to an inexpensive guitar stand: 

Amazon Basics Folding Guitar Stand

And these are the two models of wall guitar hanger we use for our 100s of guitars at our NYC Guitar School location, the String Swing and the Hercules wall mounts:

String Swing Wall Mount

Hercules Wall Mount

P.P.P.S. Worried about how to install a guitar hanger? Don’t worry! Our very own Randy stars in a video tutorial to show you how to step-by-step.

P.P.P.P.S. Sometimes people tell me they are worried about wear and damage to their guitar from leaving them out. Don’t be! Guitars are made to be used and played! At a later date you can learn more about concepts like humidifiers and guitar polish–for now just get that guitar out where you can see and use it!

P.P.P.P.P.S. Here’s a sneak peek at all the secrets to finding the time to do what you love we’ll discuss in this 4-part series!

Secret #1: Make It EASY To Practice Guitar

AKA Priming Your Environment To Reduce “Activation Energy”

Secret #2: Turn Practice Into A Motivating HABIT

AKA Create A Practice Ritual With Habit Stacking

Secret #3: To Practice More, Eliminate The Competition

AKA Distraction Is Stealing Your Time. Here’s How To Take It Back.

Secret #4: Make Guitar Practice A Priority With Time Blocking

AKA Make An Appointment With Yourself To Do What You Love


Wikipedia Entry on Autoignition Temperatures:

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