I was catching up with a friend from Chicago this week and was reminded of my time with toddlers in the house. We nearly always had an extra child around when our son was small, so he'd have a playmate. So practice time could have been limited.
When I was asked to perform the Ginastera Concerto when he was 18 months old, I learned a lot about efficient practice.
I'd become used to huge chunks of time at a harp, the luxury of learning slow but with an 18 month old or two about the house, that wasn't possible. I knew that focused, organized practice was the key to learning new music so I put that practice to the test.
And, in 15 to 20 min. increments, I learned the whole piece in time for the concert dates, with weeks to spare.
It was a great exercise for me. I need long periods of time at my instrument to stay in shape, but I don't need it to learn music. In December when gigs come fast and furious and choir directors keep adding "one more thing", or when life develops other urgencies, remember, the lack of an hour doesn't need to keep you from learning new music, acquiring new skills or staying in shape.
Get focused. Find music that challenges you physically to stay in shape. Learn music in small bites and work slowly, trusting that well learned muscle memory speeds up almost by itself.
No excuses. If you have 15 min. today, you DO have time to practice. Tune the harp. Get busy.