Practice makes the man perfect! But you need to know how to focus better during that practice session to get the best results. In other words, you need to practice smart in whichever skill you want to imbibe.
Most experts feel that the concept of natural talent is overrated. Research and personal experiences have highlighted the fact that it is with a smart practice that one can excel.
But its new-age version would read – Smart Practice makes a man perfect!
Practicing without focusing will not give any results. According to a leading psychologist, Anders Ericsson, the perfection of an art or skill can be achieved with 10,000 hours of focused practice.
What is Smart Practice?
- Focusing – helps you notice/recognize obstacles and remember how to overcome them in the future when the time comes actually to use those skills
- One thing at a time – focus on one mistake – correct it and only then go to the next one
- Curiosity – to know what is happening in practice – it helps you realize the change that you need to adapt to perfect it
- Patience – try, try, and try again till you succeed. Then you practice more!
We lead busy lives, and time for practicing becomes difficult. So whenever we get some time, we must practice smart.
Practicing smart means undertaking short, intense workouts with extreme attention to minute details, focusing on the basics, getting the techniques right, and practicing again when you have excelled in it.
Repeated practice sans focus Vs. Smart Practice
Repeated practice gets us to a level where our skill becomes our reflex. The skill is acquired but at mediocre levels.
Dedication and enthusiasm at the start are high, but we tend to lose focus in later stages as the tasks become repetitive and routine. Consecutively, minute details go unnoticed.
Examples: cooking, driving, washing clothes, cycling, etc.
Taking a single example…
Most of us know cycling. But professionals who take part in cycling competitions build up their knowledge of this skill to higher levels such that they can win races using various strategies and techniques imbibed through smart practice.
Smart Practice procedures
Clearly, baseline level skills acquired through regular practice are not enough to excel in it! You can be a specialist with particular expertise only with smart training. Musicians, sportspeople, and many others have achieved high levels of success due to repeated smart practice.
Here are some guidelines for smart practice in other practices:
- Be practice-ready with your goals, motivations and what you expect from your practice sessions
- The goals may be short term or long term – plan accordingly.
- Some roadblocks for smart practice are procrastination, self-doubt, and distraction. Plan some strategies like the following to overcome them:
- Procrastination can be combated by cultivating good habits
- To combat self-doubt, do the following:
- Seek inspiration and motivation from peers and well-wishers. Sometimes you can adopt some motivational strategies to boost your morale
- Don’t expect too much from yourself/don’t pressurize yourself much. Set goals that do not overwhelm you
- Distractions – make a list of what usually distracts you and find ways to counter it. In case you still have problems with attention spans, make your sessions smaller, take tiny breaks and give-in to your distractions during those breaks
- The intense practice is the need of the hour, though short, it should be high on focus and vision
- Skills and talents need not be genetic that you inherit from your forefathers. Deliberate and structured practice done with patience and focus driven by curiosity would get you there soon.
Smart practice can be applied to various areas and skills. Athletes, musicians, students, office goers, fitness enthusiasts, even an average person involved in any activity or performance of skill can benefit from the smart practice.
Smart practice application for sports enthusiasts
Dedication is most important when taking up any activity. Without commitment, you can never excel in a skill.
Whenever you are practicing for cricket, hockey, golf, football, or any other sport, keep the following smart practice guidelines in mind:
- Lay a strong foundation of the sport in your memory by getting your basics right
- Practicing the wrong technique for hours may not make you effective – get your techniques right
- Again quality over quantity when practicing is important
- Seek advice from experts and coaches if you want to get your technique perfectly
- Once you get your basics right, keep practicing, repeating again and again
- Next, you can practice in match-playing like conditions such as strength and weakness of opponents, climatic conditions (that affect some sports), pressure situations, etc.
Smart practice tips for aspiring musicians
Most effective musicians practice smart. How?
Here are some pointers as to how to aim at the levels of experts:
- Practice often… yes there is no shortcut to success
- Be consistent – allocate some time for practice regularly
- Long sessions can tend to bore you sometimes. So, practice in short but intensive sessions, which means, you need to practice for regular sessions in short bursts through the week instead of one long weekend session
- Make a list of jobs you want to accomplish in the session before you start practicing
- Don’t keep high expectations as they may overwhelm you during practice
- Engage diligently
- Perfect your techniques – because it is the most critical part of training for music
- Relax while practicing… over focus and stress do not produce good results
- Do not practice what you already know. Concentrate instead on your weak areas
- Create some good habits and follow them judiciously
- Practice until you get your note right. Then, practice the note that you just played correctly. When you practice the correct version, your arms will memorize that act and play correctly when you are performing
Smart practice tips to Improve Writing Skills
Though writing comes naturally to a few, those interested in pursuing this art should resort to smart practice writing to top the game. The route to excellence in writing follows this smart practice path…
- Reading many books to improve vocabulary
- Reading also helps you to understand writing styles and to develop one for your own
- Focus on basics – grammar, sentence structure and other essentials of good writing
- Write daily and revise your drafts many times
- Take a writing partner for motivation and editing help
- Write for prompts regularly, attend workshops
- Seek expert opinion continually for improvement
Smart practice during fitness regimes means:
- Attention to detail
- Focusing on the act
- Practicing the perfect move-in whatever fitness activity you are undertaking – whether it is intense training or aerobic training or circuit training, etc.
The results of smart practice may not come your way quickly. But if you go back to the basics, start again, and observe, you will learn the skill soon. Until then, keep Smart Practicing.
Smart Practice for your Brain
While we like to keep our bodies active through gym practice, etc., the brain is usually neglected.
The brain is an essential part of our body, without which all body parts can never function.
The brain is working every day without a break. Unlike other organs, the mind never rests. To keep it healthy, one needs to give it ample practice and exercise. To keep the brain focused, you can do the following:
- Break your routine at times. Set off on an adventure, experiment with new stuff, mix and match exercise, etc., to keep it healthy
- Take in brain food like salmon, Omega-3 fatty acids to make your brain strong
- Solve puzzles and word games. Start from a low level and advance as you can answer questions
- Stress – keep stress under control to save your mind. Solve stress points as soon as possible, so that sleep deprivation and prolonged stress does not affect the healthy working of the brain
- Take proper food and exercise your body, keeping it in good shape to play games, etc., which provide multiple benefits to the mind
Some special brain games online
Games are appealing to both old and young alike. Putting Brains on Games can help improve memory and focusing ability at the same time. Brain training puzzles even help calm the mind. Brain games also provide Smart Practice to the mind to be successful in whatever job you are undertaking by:
- upping problem-solving skills
- enhancing flexibility and
- increasing the speed of processing information
Some games are available in print, and some are available online. Few games are free, and some need you to take a membership. Here is a list of some excellent brain games to improve memory and concentration:
Sudoku is a number placement game. It involves planning, focus, and short term memory. It is a very addictive brain game for adults and youngsters alike. The challenging levels go on increasing as the player progresses from a lower level to a higher one.
The puzzle has 9 X 9 grid boxes with a few pre-typed numbers. The main objective of the game is to fill the other boxes of the 9 X 9 grid such that each row and column of 3 X 3 sub-grids contain all the digits of the numbers 1 to 9.
Sudoku is freely available in newspapers, websites, and apps on phones.
Just open the last few pages of your printed newspaper or its online version to access the very popular crosswords exercise.
Crosswords test your knowledge in whatever field you excel in. So there are endless crossword options that you can complete to exercise your brain and enhance its functionalities.
This website developers claim it is the biggest collection of brain games – about 10,000 games, challenges, and puzzles online.
It has an option with which you can create your puzzles as well.
It is a brain-training website also available on iOS and android.
One can open a free account on this website and play a maximum of three games per day. The purchase of games is not necessary. The site has brain exercises in the form of games that the developers claim to help in significant improvement of cognitive skills for its users. The cognitive skills that are said to improve are:
- information processing speed
- mental flexibility
- attention – selective and divided
- visual/spatial and
- problem-solving skills
The sheer variety creates curiosity, interest, and admiration for this website.
Queendom has personality tests, polls, some surveys, and a massive collection of quizzes, aptitude tests, etc., to challenge your brain.
The website helps you discover yourself in an interactive mode even while keeping the fun element intact. All are high-quality content developed by professionals to help you understand your real potential. Feedback is also provided to help you assess yourself better.
This site is perfect for HR professionals, life coaches, therapists, athletic organizations, professors, marketing personnel, researchers, and business people.
6.) Happy Neuron
The exercises on this website activate five functions of the brain that deal with language, memory, attention, visual/spatial, and executive functions. A free trial of this package is available.
The site developers recommend completing ten basic training exercises every day for the best results.
It is another app available on the Nintendo platform. It can help you sharpen your memory, improve focus and attention, and enhance calculation skills.
8.) Elevate app
It is similar to Lumosity in the features, but its look is more colorful in design than understated Lumosity. This app helps develop comprehension, reading, listening, and writing skills through some 35 different games. It also helps enhance communication skills. You can track your progress on the app as well. Unlimited access is an added advantage.
This website is similar to Lumosity and has various exercises for the brain.
You can find various games, puzzles, and activities to make you sharper.
Elementary Cognitive Tasks (ECT) is the interactive challenges that form the basis for these puzzles. Each ECT taps a particular part of the brain for exercise. When the ECT stimulates a specific part of the brain, it receives more oxygen, blood flow, and certain amino acids to improve neural connections resulting in higher brain processing speed.
Other popular brain training apps include FitBrains and BrainHQ. Brain games are a great way for smart practice. Challenging your brain can create great wonders for your confidence and skill enhancement. Keep practicing and growing every day.