The secret to getting better and faster at anything is to practice a little every day. Chip away at it a little bit at a time until you’ve mastered it and it becomes second nature.
A 30 day challenge can take you from where ever you are, to the next level, whether it’s writing songs, getting better at home recording, mastering a new camera, improving your creativity, or just getting faster and more efficient.
Years ago, I participated in a PAD (Photo-A-Day) 30 day challenge. The object was to make and post one photo each day for 30 days. Of course, you want each photo to be as good as possible, so that’s built-in. Here are some of the benefits I gained from the challenge.
Developing Speed and Accuracy
With a deliverable-a-day, there is a daily deadline, so you have to focus and work quickly. At the time, I was practicing for some on-location shoots, and had limited space at home, so I would set up and tear down my background, lighting, tripod, camera, etc. every day, which got me better and faster at planning the shoot, configuring the “set”, dialing in the settings on the camera.
Then I processed the image on the computer where I could see what came out of the camera full size, taking note of what was working and where I could improve, also getting better and faster with Photoshop, and finally exporting and uploading to the website we were using at the time. Commenting on what I learned.
Re-engage In My Craft
Without a short term goal, things can get stale. The PAD 30 day challenge certainly reinvigorated my excitement. Sharing with a peer group is great for keeping you engaged, accountable, and learning as everyone shares their experience.
After the first few days, I really had to start digging deep for new ideas, which exercised my creativity, forcing me to think outside the box. And did I mention the daily deadline?
By focusing on a specific task or series of tasks, through repetition, and observing what works in a compressed amount of time, I made a number of small incremental improvements that added up to big gains by the end of the 30 day challenge.
- Songwriters may try to write 30 songs in 30 days. It doesn’t matter if the first ones are really simple or really bad. By taking it to completion in the allotted time channels your resources in that direction and it gets easier and better as it goes.
- Home recorders may want to record and produce 30 songs in 30 days.
- Keith Urban has a 30 Songs in 30 Days guitar course that works on the same principle, except that in this case, it’s guided instruction. Any 30 day course or program is a great place to start your first 30 day challenge.
- Health and Fitness. Isn’t that always the hot topic of each new year? Try making one small change and stick with it for 30 days. When I gave up sodas, the first 26 days were difficult. After that, I didn’t even want to go back.
My Current Challenge
After the first few test prints on my 3d printer, I really wanted to get better at printing, so I embarked on a derivative of the Photo PAD with a Print PAD (Print-A-Day) 30 day challenge, which includes creating the 3d model from scratch using Blender, and taking it all the way through the finished print, while trying to make each model and print better and than the last. Speed comes automatically, you don’t really have to focus on that.
Another bonus is that you can repeat a 30 day challenge as often as you like. Whenever things are starting to get routine and you want to take your skill to the next level, just create your own 30 day challenge. Invite your friends to take part in the challenge. Sharing adds to the excitement, and helps motivate you to do your best, and keep you going when things get tough.