June 28, 2024

About the Author: Cameron Hayes

Cameron Hayes is a guitar educator at the London Guitar Institute, teaching a wide range of styles such as rock, metal, blues, jazz, folk, RnB, acoustic, and many more! He teaches a large volume of students on a weekly basis and always looks to provide outstanding value in each and every lesson!

Practising guitar: one of the weekly tasks that often fall by the wayside for some of us with busy lives. So how do we find the time to practise if we only have limited free time to commit?

Man sitting on the floor playing guitar

Schedule in your practise

Gym training, school pickups, your kid’s basketball game, after-work drinks with your buddies, date night. Life is busy, and no matter where we look, it is often hard to find a little slice of free time for guitar practice. This is why it will be incredibly important and valuable for us to schedule in our practice time.

Just like we have scheduled all of the above events on our calendar, we should also do this for our guitar practice. If we don’t, how does the guitar ever stand a chance of being played around a current work/life balance?

This is something that I will do myself. As someone who teaches guitar all day most days out of the week, the last thing that I sometimes want to do when I come home is practise guitar. This is why I find it incredibly helpful to plan when I am going to practise for an upcoming gig or even just for my own personal pleasure.

For example, I know that Fridays are a quieter day for me, so I will often plan on having a good run of the current setlist for X gig, whilst also learning new songs for Y gig.

I know that Friday is a good day to do most of the heavy lifting, making sure that I am thoroughly learning the new material when I can focus and transcribe this into a legible chart, and also making sure all of my sounds and presets are sorted on my pedalboard without distractions.

With most of the heavy lifting done on Friday, I’ll aim to have another run of both sets throughout the weekend when I find a chance, perhaps a quick run of X gigs setlist on Saturday morning and a play through of the charts that I made for Y gig on Sunday afternoon to ensure that they are correct.

Add your practice sessions into your calendar on your quieter days so that you place just as much mental importance on them as anything else!


Most people undertake guitar lessons or purchase a guitar with the aim of improving their playing abilities, which is something that will take a great deal of commitment.

This will mean that you have to prioritise this activity in order to improve, just as you wouldn’t skip training at the gym because you know you need that workout.

Try this: instead of going out for after-work drinks three times this week, just go out twice to save yourself an extra evening for guitar. You’ll thank me later.

Man playing guitar

5 minutes is better than no minutes!

A lot of people are of the mindset that if they were to sit down to practise guitar, it has to be for a decent length of time otherwise it’s not worth it. I couldn’t disagree more, as just 5 minutes of playing can make a difference both technically and mentally!

Just 5 minutes of playing can be enough to keep everything fresh in your memory and to polish up the chord shapes into your muscle memory so that you aren’t guessing what strings to place your fingers on.

It can also be a huge confidence booster, as 5 minutes is enough to play through your current song, or even snippets of a few tunes, which can give you a big morale boost to hear yourself playing these songs.

I had something similar just yesterday, when I picked up one of my guitars which has been in for repair with my local luthier. The guitar hadn’t been in my possession for over a month, and before that I hadn’t been playing it much due to a few issues with the electronics.

Getting it back yesterday was almost like getting a new guitar, which I was eager to play and see how much it had improved. Although I didn’t have too much free time to play yesterday, I spent about 10-15 minutes playing the guitar and testing it out on some of the usual sounds on my pedalboard, which has left me with an itch to play it again today.

If I hadn’t spent this short amount of time playing it yesterday, I wouldn’t be as eager to play again today, which could then lead to further practice and improvement.

Man sitting and writing- with guitar on the floor

Easily accessible

A tip that I always give to students who are struggling to put in the time to practise guitar is to ensure that their guitar is easily accessible.

Half of the battle to start practising is all mental, as if your guitar is hidden away in its case in your wardrobe or under your bed, just the thought of having to it dig it out will be enough to prevent you from practising.

Something as simple as purchasing a guitar stand (for cheap) can go a long way in proving your practise, as if you see your guitar proudly displayed on its stand in your living room or bedroom then this will invite you to play.

And as an added bonus, it also looks super cool! (Your spouse may or may not agree).

Go more portable

Following on from having your guitar easily accessible.

Perhaps you play electric guitar and have an amp with multiple pedals and cables everywhere, and you need to find a pair of headphones to plug into the amp so you don’t annoy your neighbours, but your daughter has stolen your headphones to watch something on the iPad.

Although the bulk of your practice can still be done on your electric setup, you may find it incredibly useful for you to have an acoustic guitar floating around the house that you can easily pick up and play at the drop of a hat while you are waiting for something in the oven or during the ad break on TV.

The less steps between picking up and playing, the better.

Man walking carrying guitar

Bring your guitar to work day (everyday)

Although not all people may have this option, many of us may be in the position where we can either bring our guitar to work to play on a lunch break or could even keep a second guitar (perhaps a cheaper acoustic one as mentioned above) at their workplace to sneak in 5 minutes of practise here and there.

I remember a former student of mine who used to bring his guitar to work with him on the days that he would have his guitar lesson with me in the evening, he would do a bit of playing during the day at work to make the most of having his instrument on him.

Imagine if he had a guitar in his office all the time! I even used to teach a plumber who would practise in the back of his van in between jobs.

Talk about commitment!

Active listening

You may not be aware that you can even do things to help your practice without even holding a guitar through active listening.

Say you’re on your daily commute to and/or from work. You could be listening to the current song that you are working on to analyse the rhythms, think about the song structure, make a mental note of what chords are coming next, and think about what licks are used in the solo.

Start thinking outside the box to make the most of your practise in your limited free time.

Tags: Guitar practice, Guitar tips, Playing guitar tips

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Tags: Guitar practice, Guitar tips, Playing guitar tips