Posted in Articles, Audio, More Than Steps Podcast

Incremental Practice

Incremental Practice


Practice Doesn’t Have to Be a Huge Commitment

When we think of practice, we usually think of carving out a substantial amount of time, like an hour every morning.

But that’s not the only way to make practice a part of your life…

Listen Now:


Or Read the Transcript

This was professionally transcribed, but it probably still has some errors. If you catch any, drop me a line at I’d love to hear from you!

Hey, there. This is Nadira Jamal from When I coach people on building a practice, we’re usually interested in bulk practice. That’s when you carve out a substantial amount of time, say half an hour every morning, an hour every weekday, and for big work, say things related to your livelihood, or if you’re trying to make your most important passion a real consistent part of your life, then that’s a good approach. But, I think we also underestimate incremental practice, that’s when you do tiny amounts on a more frequent basis. You can make a surprising amount of progress that way. Entire novels have been written in bursts of a few minutes at a time. What’s the case for incremental practice? For one thing, it’s a whole lot easier to find time to do it. With bulk practice, there’s always going to be a trade-off. If you spend an hour every morning practicing, that’s an hour that you can’t spend sleeping, or relaxing, or doing something else that’s important to you. But carving out three minutes here and there, that’s pretty easy. Another reason is that incremental practice can be done in your dead time. That’s the time that you ordinarily would waste, time waiting on hold, waiting to pick up your kids, sitting at red lights, waiting for your coffee to brew. You don’t lose anything by taking advantage of those moments. Plus, incremental practice is a lot easier to start. If I ask you to get up right now and practice for an hour, you probably wouldn’t do it. But if I asked you to try three minutes, I’ll bet you could. How do you start with incremental practice? Well, the first thing to do is to take stock of the opportunities to carve out tiny amounts of time that could be dead time, or it could just be places where you can carve out three minutes, two minutes, five minutes. Then, pick whichever one seems the easiest to you. Brainstorm a list of things that you can usefully do in that time slot, and think small. Practicing one move, marking out a combination, running through a choreography, tapping out a zill pattern. Then, make sure that the things on that list fit that setting. If you’re taking advantage of dead time on the bus, tapping out a zill pattern on your thigh might work, but running through your choreography probably won’t. Then, identify what you need to do that, and make sure that you have it on hand. For example, you might want to make sure that the song that you’re working with is queued up on your playlist. Then, just give it a shot. Let me give you an example of carving out time. One of my students practices for a few minutes every hour. She has her own office, so she sets a timer. When that timer goes off, she closes the door, and she practices for one song. If you don’t have a private space at work, that might not work for you, but you could certainly do it any time you’re at home. For dead time, one thing you could do is if you often wait to pick up your kids, you can visualize your way through a choreography while you sit in the car. But, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. One is that you need to be prepared for your routine to change. I used to text my mom on the bus to keep in touch. But then, when I started working from home, I took fewer bus rides, so that didn’t really work. You also need to be prepared for your priorities to change. Before I got my new job, I started studying Turkish. Then, that bus dead time was a time when I was awfully tempted to practice my flashcards instead of texting. The good news is that these tiny little habits, these are very easy to replace. If one falls by wayside, you can always just create another. It’s also important to note that this is not for every type of practice. If you’re doing practice that requires a lot of preparation, special clothes, a really extensive warmup, or lots of equipment set up, then you’re probably better off with bulk practice. But, be sure that you’re questioning your assumptions. Do you really have to change into dance clothes to mark out that combination? What could you practice in your regular clothes? Do you really need to warmup fully or would a two-minute quickie warmup do what you need? Whether you already have a substantial practice or not, consider adding incremental practice to your routine. It’s easy to fit into your day, and you can make a substantial amount of progress. Look for opportunities to carve out a couple of minutes, and remember that dead time can be a gold mine. Then, figure out what you can usefully do in that setting and what you need to have on hand so you can take advantage of it. If you have practice on the brain, like I do, check out some of my other resources on this topic. The best way to do that is to go to and search for the word practice in the sidebar. If you think that bulk practice if for you, and you want to make practice a consistent part of your life, check out my course How to Build a Sustainable Practice Habit. You can find details on the latest offerings at Thanks for listening. For more geektacular resources, check out


Your Turn

How do you work practice into your day? Do you ever practice in your “dead time”? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.

Or better yet, leave me a short voice message.
Maybe I’ll even play it on the air!


Want More?

Check out:
My other articles on practice

How to Build a Sustainable Practice Habit

Comments are closed.

Want More?

Want More?

Subscribe to Belly Dance Geek News to get invitations to our monthly online radio show, plus more articles, videos, and other geek-tacular resources.

Thanks for signing up! Now go check your email to confirm your subscription.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This