Practicing well is so important in achieving your goals. When parents tell me they practice often with their children, all I can think about the level at which the parent plays. While playing friendly games against familiar competition is a fun part of being a chess player, I wouldn't call it practice. Here are a few of my favorite ways to keep my chess game sharp.
ChessTempo.com: Doing chess puzzles is probably the fastest way to becoming a good chess player. However, if it's overdone, it takes a game that should be a joy and turns it into a bit of a chore. Chesstempo.com does a great job of tailoring puzzles to a player's rating and makes it possible to grind out numerous problems quickly. Most tactics book fall short because they require flipping to the back. Plus, their difficulty levels aren't exactly matched to all students. ChessTempo is also free of charge compared to the Coakley tactics books randing 30 to 35 dollars a piece.
Chess By Post: This app borrows from the rich tradition of correspondence chess, which has benefitted from the "______ with friends" popularity on smartphones. Chess By Post keeps track of your rating and record, plus allows easy transferring of your game notation (coaches love this). Many of my lessons now start by the student showing me progress of 5 or 6 games they're currently playing against random opponents or friends from the Tampa chess scene. If you are up for a game, challenge me. My user name is "Domineer".
ChessCube.com or The Internet Chess Club: There is no substitute for timed chess matches against similarly rated opponents. Online games automatically notate and keep an unofficial rating as well.