Here's a quick look at simple things you can do to maximize your practice space and time:

1. Have your tools together.

These include a pencil, paper/sheet music, a metronome, any other materials you're working with, such as an iPod, headphones, etc.

2. Have a goal.

Say to yourself, “Today I'd like to work on: ____". And hold yourself to it. The doesn't mean you have to master it today, but you'll feel much more accomplished if you spend your practice time working on exactly what you wanted. And, that piece will become a sharper tool that you can pull out of your bag any time.

3. Eliminate distractions.

Cats, dogs, TV, and other people all can catch the corner of your eye and take your mind off what you're working on. Unless you're specifically using your computer for your practice, put it away. It is way too easy to type f-a-c-e-b-o-o-k-.-c-o-m. Before you know it, you'll have wasted an hour on something other than practicing. Sure, YouTube has a lot of great resources, but be careful. It's way too easy to get distracted by stupid pet videos and eating contests.

4. Get comfortable.

You'll last longer. That may mean throwing on sweatpants or gym shorts, but provide yourself a comfortable environment, too. I like to have a couple snacks on the table, as they offer a reward after some diligent practice. Plus, psychologically, it seems gratifying to eat and it keeps me positive and motivated.

5. Pay attention to what kind of environment makes you work best.

This is different for everyone. Some people like to be immersed in a room full of equipment, with cables and musical instruments everywhere, and some need a perfectly clean, clutter-free environment. It's up to you, but just be aware of what works for you.

6. Minimize setup and teardown.

I have known many people who have to have their space “just right" for them to work. That's not necessarily a bad thing, until they spend three hours vacuuming, scrubbing the baseboards and finally organizing the closet they've been meaning to get to — all so they can practice their scales. It sounds funny but it's so true. It may behoove you to set up your space well in advance of practicing in it.

Finally, your best practice space may not always be in your home. Sometimes it pays to get out of the house and away from the distractions of everyday living. Pay attention to what works for you, and then do it. And above all, have fun!