Productivity is, in the long term, very important to your development as a musician. Obvious as this may seem, many musicians eschew a long term view for today’s problems.
Don’t misinterpret my meaning, the only time you can practice is right now. But what you choose to do right now will have significant effects on whether or not you’re productive in the future.
To put it as clearly as I can: If you’re doing anything right now that makes you less likely to do the work in the future, then you need to stop doing that thing.
Here are some examples of “hard work” that isn’t helping you:
-If you practice for 2 hours straight in an effort to “work hard” and be “diligent,” but then you don’t practice again for a week because you’re so mentally drained, then you aren’t being productive.
-If your self-critique makes you want to stop practicing, then you’re not critiquing yourself, you’re shaming yourself. That’s not productive.
-If watching videos of “better” musicians makes you want to stop practicing then you aren’t being productive.
If you want to get better you have to do whatever it takes. This is usually interpreted as doing more. But haven’t we all tried to do more, and then some more, and then more after that, only to burn out or be dissatisfied with the results?
Yes, we need to work hard. But it’s hard work to be kind to ourselves. It’s hard work to use some restraint. It’s hard work to say “That’s all for today, I’ll get back to it tomorrow.”
So if you’re going to work hard, do the hard work that brings you back tomorrow.