Trouble focusing

I’m curious if anyone has any tips on how to clear one’s mind making it easier to focus during a practice session. It seems I sit down to practice and while I’m playing other random thoughts pop into my head causing me to lose focus. I then make a mistake and need to start over. I wish I could clear my mind and just focus on what I’m learning. Maybe this is a stupid question and it’s something that I need to try to figure out on my own. I appreciate any help you can give. Thank you.


Warm up.

Do something simple and repetitive and increase things until you’ve got to think about what you are doing.


Break down practice into 5 minute chunks. Set a timer. Focus for 5 mins, then do something unfocused (like a song).

Or look into pomodoro, which is similar but more specific.


One question that comes to mind is " how specific are your practice items" ?
As a general rule, the more focused and specific your practice items, the more focus you will likely have on them. ( plus the faster you will progress) This is not just guitar centric; it relates to all learning.

For example, say you have your first practice item as “First pattern of the minor pentatonic”. If you make it general like that, there’s much greater risk of losing focus and your mind wandering. Why? Because you’re focus is way too broad. Your mind has nothing specific to lock onto.
Contrast this with “Em pentatonic shape, starting at 60 bpm, 3 in a line sequence, ascending and descending”. This is very specific, and allows your mind to bring laser focus on it. Many other benefits such as isolating errors, technique problems etc, and working on them.
May be applicable to you, maybe not.

Cheers, Shane


I think the first mistake is when you say you make a mistake that you start again. If you were playing live and made a mistake you wouldn’t start over after a mistake, get used to recovering from the mistake and carry on. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s practice.

Second thought that comes to mind… are you distracted because you’re not enjoying your practice? Certainly if you’re too strict on your mistakes that won’t help, but maybe change your practice routine so it is fun. I start with a few warm-up exercises but then get quickly on to playing songs because that’s what I enjoy. Some people manage to do long sessions of practicing technique after technique, that’s not for me. It’s not that isn’t useful but you have to enjoy it


Hi John
I need (from Silvia :roll_eyes:) to watch this one next week (again) so not 100% if this is what your looking for…, maybe it will help you too?


Hi John,
in addition to the very good feedback that already has been given, do you use the practice assistant or some other written learning structure?

But also, I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Following other thoughts here and there is absolutely fine. Maybe do a dedicated break of one minute between practice items, so that that what you have learned can settle.

Don’t forget to have lots of fun :smiley:



Good call Roger

I’ve been breaking my practice schedule down into a “timebox” format this week, to ensure I can focus on the areas under development or improvement. It certain accelerates results but taking frequent breaks is a must.



Hey John, I don’t know what exactely your problem is, everyone and everyone’s life situations are so different. Good advice from others already, so nothing to add.
A few months ago, a book title popped up again and again on fb, I got somewhat curious and ordered the download, as I needed something to read whilst travelling. I didn’t expect anything for just a few bucks, but unexpectedly found the book surprisingly inspiring and got a few helpful insights. It’s an easy read, nothing really too scientific, nothing earth-shattering, but from an accomplished player, practically orientated, who puts things into perspective. There’s a big part around practicing (and distraction :wink:) and a lot to read about creativity and motivational aspects too. (Maybe his tips for healthy living would have been unneccessary)
I hope, it’s appropriate to post the title here, if not, @richard_close2u feel free to delete.


Hi Toby,
I hope so, because I still have to watch the video myself, but I think it is also going about to set timers…beep…beep…beep…what ever sound there is after a short time…I I’m going very bad on that… so I’ll have to buy a good hour (minutes :smile:) glass and still have to look up regularly from the guitar … (if I hadn’t typed all this and what above I could have already watched half the video) Yes Yes Oooo That @SILVIA I didn’t want to tag her in my first post, but now I have to say the following…so yes indeed lady, you are one dolore al culo … :joy:

Now I really have to :wavy_dash: :wavy_dash: :wheelchair:


@roger_holland Great advice from Justin in this video. I’m no friend of timers, I don’t want to “run against the clock” and stress myself, but I tend to get lost in time on certain items, so it’s a good reminder. And it’s interesting to see the gap between approx. (“felt”) 5 / 10 minutes and real 5 / 10 minutes. Sometimes, when struggling, 5 minutes could be quite long :laughing:.


I hate it when you women start conspiring :roll_eyes:… I also easily lose myself in time and that can easily be an hour or even a whole day for a simple thing… but an alarm clock/telephone beeps when I am concentrated and this happens several times in an hour, then those things are quickly broken :grimacing:… in company to leave on time from pub or in the past very in the past with sports and a few years ago with Fysio they sometimes had a liberating effect so I had to work with timers very often… but when I’m alone at home, an hourglass will really have to be used otherwise Justin can :wave: about his purchase and/or future donations because I keep buying new phones :roll_eyes:… but for me it doesn’t come to the minute and an hourglass will have to do its job… uch :blush:
Greetings…O O I see that Italian girl is coming in :grimacing:


Yes the video @roger_holland suggested will help you a lot! And it’ll help to stop wandering if that happens…it happens to me sometimes…now more rarely.
I also have some items of practice of 2 minutes, because 5 seems too long for me.

Rogier you’ll be flagged for swearing in a foreign language :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: …that is bad bad bad! :joy:
If the beep beep irritates you you can do with a sandglass…I have one of 3 minutes and I sometimes use it , it’s very relaxing getting lost in the sand going down when you don’t want to look at your hands or need to aitomate patterns.


you started :joy:

:sweat_smile: :sweat_smile: :sweat_smile:

I hadn’t looked it up yet…and expected it, but this is good to read in such a short time (before the nasty stretch exercises)…I’m putting one on my list NOW…

that brings back memories … I used to watch it for an hour as a child … and just turn over such a large hour/sandglass with my grandfather and grandmother :thought_balloon:

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That’s not true! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: I said “rompiscatole” that literally means “breaking boxes” …of course boxes is usually replaced with…:joy::joy:


Timeboxing definitely works John, like you I spent lots of practice time practicing but not really focusing (my brain thought about dinner plans and other random stuff). What works for me is breaking my practice time into 15 minute sections (it may be different for you) when you know how long you can spend practicing then write down what you intend to practice and for how long and then stick to it (use a timer) you really will see a difference in a relatively short period of time.


Hi @Jomal1956

Sounds like your mind needs to sort out your daily events before you start. I have to take time to for this or I just roll around mentally like I’m on a hamster exercise wheel.

Take 5-10 minutes before practice to allow your brain to do whatever it wants before you try to force it into the timeboxing others mentioned. See if that helps you stay focused inside the boxes.

I also do best shortly after waking up from a night’s sleep or a nap. End of the day usually rough for me.


Thank Roger, I haven’t seen this one before !

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Thanks Helen, I’ll check it out :smiling_face:

I think that may be part of the problem. The only time I seem to be able to practice is later at night. Although I’m retired, I live in the same house with her and her husband and three kids, ages 7,5, and 1. I help her with the kids most of the day, and by nighttime I’m usually so stressed and tired it makes it hard to concentrate on anything. (There’s a reason 67 year olds don’t have children :rofl::rofl:).

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