Confession time: I am a rotten cook. I dislike every part of cooking, from the shopping and meal planning to the mind-numbing chopping to the Sisyphean setting pf the table to the cruel parting lash of having to clean up. The only part of cooking I enjoy is eating, and these days there are a lot of ways to eat without enduring the drudgery of cooking.
Lately, though, I’ve tried out some meal kits. You know the ones- pre-portioned ingredients delivered to your door alongside detailed instructions. And I’ll be darned if I haven’t actually managed to produce a few edible meals from these kits. It’s a culinary miracle!
Which got me thinking. If meal kits can get me into the kitchen, what could harnessing meal kit psychology do for those of us who struggle to practice?
Let’s steal a few moves from the meal kit playbook.
Pre-portion your ingredients: A lot of the appeal of the meal kit is that it takes away some of the petty hurdles, or what user experience gurus call “friction,” of food preparation. So let’s take away the friction of practicing. Leave your music stand out. Leave your music open on the stand. Leave a plastic recorder already assembled within reach (or a disassembled wooded recorder close to hand). Make picking up your instrument and starting to play as effortless as possible.
Have a menu plan: Deciding what to cook takes mental energy. So does deciding what to practice. Before you end each practice session, write down exactly what you’re going to do in the next one. I use a practice notebook for this purpose, but you could use a slip of a paper clipped to the music stand, a small whiteboard, or your phone.
Step by step instructions: Meal kits tell you exactly what to do and when to do it. Try writing out your “recipe” before you start practicing. Want to work on tuning? Make a step-by-step plan –some drone work, say, followed by interval work followed by recording and listening back. Then execute.
Visualize your goal: The meal kit recipe cards have delicious looking pictures of the finished product on the front that keep me focused when I want to put down the (inevitable) scallions and pick up the takeout menu. This is not an accident- visualizing your goal helps keep you working toward it. Try listening to a CD of the piece you’re working on. Or visualize yourself performing ir to an appreciative audience!
If I can cook, you can practice.