A Little Philosophy: Usefulness of short practice periods
Repetition is used to train the body and mind to freely express selected activities.
If we love what we do, however, but stop practicing, how long will the expertise we acquire last?
Apparently, our skills weaken over a period proportionate to the amount of time it took to learn them. Different skills, of course, have different rates of decay.
The good news is that once an established skill is dropped, it can be reactivated quickly without the same amount of initial struggle. But why let a beloved skill just slip away?
Keeping a skill active is different than continuing the intensity of practice and repetition when striving for ever higher achievement. Serious study takes preparation and motivation. Continuously using a skill, however, keeps it fresh.
If you are still physically healthy and don’t want to have conversations started by saying “I once was . . .”, you’ll find it easy to remain successful.
The key to maintaining your expertise is to use your skill daily. While formalized sessions are valuable no matter how much time you devote to them, the critical activity is to just “do it.”
Were you once good at basketball? Then take a few minutes when you come home from work to shoot hoops, rather than rely on bi-weekly games at the gym.
Could you once sketch proficiently? Then commit to creating at least one drawing daily, rather than counting on big weekend adventures or vacations to practice your art.
Love playing an instrument? Playing it daily will keep you in tune, while just playing at an occasional party might result in an embarrassing, error-filled situation.
There are many articles about how to practice, with specific advice on organization and attitude. The most important advice to the exclusion of everything else, however, is to simply “do it daily.”
- How long does it take to lose a skill? This article appears on different websites, but it is well documented.
- How Long Does It Actually Take to Get Out of Shape? by Nick English, March 2015, on greatist.com
- Any Skill You’re Not Practicing Is Wasting Away, by Eric Ravenscraft, March 2016, on LifeHacker.com
- 6 Ways Your Health Suffers When You Stop Working Out, by Cindy Kuzma, June 2015, on MensHealth.com
Article by Karen Little, first published for Littleviews.com on August 14, 2019. You can publish this article in a non-commercial site with permission from Karen.
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