Dealing with Boredom

One of the primary challenges that I see my students face and that I have personally faced over years of practice is boredom. Most techniques take hours of focused time to improve and hone. Yet the mental discipline it takes to put in these hours does not come naturally, certainly not to our rapid fire lives in the modern world.

I have watched many students when set to a task on their own manage to occupy that task for 3 or 4 reps and then I see them gradually slow down, their attention drift, their intention wane along with it, and then their training time suddenly becomes more and more broken up with chats, breaks, and clear mental wandering.

Some simple techniques I recommend for pushing through the boredom of repetition:

1. Have a training plan with objectives.
This can be as simple as setting a number of reps you plan to do before doing an activity, to having a daily challenge that you want to meet, or a long-term goal that is then broken down into a daily routine.

2. Use a timer.
Training with a timer can help you stay on task. I personally use an app called Ultra Timer that lets you build custom timing programs. When I train I often use sets of 1 minute on the timer with 5-10 second breaks. In between each rep I might switch activities and cycle through a set of 2 or 3 different techniques I’m working on.

3. Practice with Music.
Putting on music while you train, especially music that engages you and has a tempo that matches the speed you want to work at, can help you stay focused and maintain intensity.

4. Combine Activities.
I floss while I read. I do lunges if I watch TV on the commercials. I check email while holding long stretches. Not all activities suit having your mind elsewhere but some do. For those I often pair them up with something else. Often putting two activities together that I sometimes want to skip makes it easier for one and thus both to happen.

Whatever your personal tricks are to move through boredom, make sure you’re employing them. Boredom and mental discipline are part of the path.

devonboorman Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
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