Starve Your Distractions


by Linda Ratcliff

Why do some people advance quickly in their dulcimer skills, while others just get stuck? The difference may NOT be in the quantity of time that they practice. The difference just might be a deviation from focus and consistency.

For example, I have been retired for 3 weeks now. I had told myself for the last year, as we prepared for the move and this next season of our lives, that when I didn’t have to go to work anymore I was going to practice every single day. Has that happened? Uhhhhh … wellllll … not really. And my excuse? I would probably have to admit it was a case of changed priorities. I lost sight of the goal I promised myself, and moved the focus toward a new direction … exploring our new town. There's nothing wrong with that, but I need to get back on track.  So this newsletter is really a sermon to myself.

If you aren’t making the progress you want, here are 3 Focus Hacks that might help.

  • Eliminate distractions.  Turn off the TV and put your cell phone, iPad, Kindle etc. out of sight. 
  • Cut through the noise.  Set up your dulcimer stand and equipment in a quiet space.
  • Tell yourself the to-do list can wait.

Then here are 3 Priority Hacks, to keep you on track working toward your goals.

  1. Make a commitment to practice 15-20 minutes a day.
  2. Schedule your practice alongside another daily routine. For example, maybe start that 15-20 minutes practice time right after your morning coffee. Do you need to get ready for work after your cuppa java? Then get up 15 minutes earlier!
  3. Hang up a blank practice calendar in your practice space. Fill it in with your practice time every time you do it. You’ll like seeing those spaces filled in. It’s kind of like the way I handle my personal to-do list. I’ve been known to write things in after I’ve done them, just for the joy of scratching them back off.

The key is to create a focused environment and a daily practice routine. Once you do this, you’ll advance by leaps and bounds. STARVE your distractions and FEED your focus. Now quit reading and go practice.

Happy dulcimering,



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