Guitar Noises #34: September 1, 2023
One way to deal with the brain or fingers not cooperating is to not overdo it. With chop building exercises or scales it's good idea to do a certain number of reps and stop. Five times through with clean sound and no big mistakes is good enough. If you're practicing with regularity those reps will get the job done over time. There are no perfect workouts, the consistency is what counts.
This is perfect advice, especially your closing note. I've never focused too much on time specifically (although now that I work from home and have 5 guitars in my office, it's easy to play at various times throughout the day to 'grease the groove'), but one thing I've always found effective is to work on something new until my fingers or brain stop cooperating.
So for instance, if I'm learning a new technique or refining an older one, let's say legato for argument's sake, I can drill that until my fingers get fatigued. If I'm learning a new song and part of the challenge is memory, I can practice until I make more mistakes. That's the time to take a break, and the next day I'll have made significant improvement. This is putting the brain into its state for deep work, and there's interesting research on this: when we work really hard at something, then sleep on it, we wake up with more clarity or ability on it.