The Secret to Building a Successful Practice Routine

Life is busy. There are so many competing priorities. It feels like we never have enough time. 

When we finally find a moment for ourselves and our interests, we are tired and drained. It’s difficult to focus with all of life’s distractions, pressures, and demands. We lack the patience, energy, and attention after a long day of school or work. There is dinner to be prepared, homework to be done, and after-school activities to get to. Can you relate?

Our artistry and personal goals often take a backseat. It’s not for lack of desire or good intentions. We want to improve. We want more time to pursue our artistic passions. We want to experience the full range of benefits that only the arts can provide. So, what do we do? 

We take ACTION. 

  1. First, COMMIT. Make the decision to invest in yourself, in your goals, interests, and desires. You are worth it. 
  2. Create your SACRED PRACTICE SPACE. If you have a space dedicated to your daily practice, you are more likely to go there. Especially if you are inspired by the physical environment: visually, acoustically, and ease. 
  3. Develop the HABIT of daily practice.

We are creatures of habit. Research shows that nearly half of our daily activities are done out of habit. For example, brushing our teeth, getting dressed, or pouring a glass of water are activities that we do out of habit. We don’t think much about them – we just DO them. These small habits are extremely powerful over our everyday routines. 

Creating new habits can be difficult. Researchers suggest that in order for new habits to stick they must be EASY. The easier the task, the less motivation it requires, and the more likely the desired action will become automatic and habitual. This is the key to rewiring the brain for success. Here are some steps to follow as you develop your own daily practice routine or as you help your child set-up theirs.

  • Start easy. Keep your practice session simple and easy. Begin with 15-20 minutes per day, 5 times per week. For young children, 10 minutes per day, 3 times per week may be the right starting point. Simple and easy can be very effective.
  • Connect your daily practice session with an already existing habit or routine. THIS is the golden nugget. When you connect your daily practice session with an already existing habit, your chance of success dramatically increases. Where in your day can you “stick” a practice session to an already existing habit? Consider transition points in your day. Perhaps first thing in the morning when your brain energy is high. Begin your day with a 15 minute practice session. Or, practice while your coffee is brewing or your breakfast is being prepared. How about right after school or work when you need an outlet for stress relief? Have a snack and then get to practicing. Do what feels best and makes the most sense in your day.
  • Create your sacred practice space. We are greatly influenced by our environment. Your practice space will create a trigger for your body. Go to the same space everyday to practice. Design a space that you love and feel drawn to. Parents, involve your kids in creating their special practice space.
  • Be consistent. Short, regular practice sessions are far more effective than one longer practice session. Consistency leads to less frustration and more time for the brain, body, and emotions to process new information and new skill development. 
  • Use positive self-talk. Be kind and gentle with yourself. BELIEVE in yourself, your ability, and your skill. Your practice session will be more effective and successful. 
  • Celebrate your successes. Take the time to notice and acknowledge your progress. Your accomplishments – big and small – are worth celebrating. Chart your practice sessions or use the practice log in the Studio Portal to encourage and motivate  you.  

Creating a new habit is a practiced discipline – just like developing artistic skill. Engaging with your art in a meaningful and purposeful way everyday is very special and essential for artistic success. 

The artistic journey and creative process is made up of small, regular daily activities that have a dramatic long-term impact on your confidence, resilience, and self-efficacy. With a daily practice routine you will become an impressive artist with outstanding technique and skills, but you will also experience the impact that consistent and active practice has on your life and your overall confidence.

A daily practice routine is an asset to your artistry and your life. 

Let me put these ideas into practice for you. 

Recently I used the 6 steps above to add a new habit to my day: meditation. I may be jumping on the “trendy train” here, but I wanted to give it a try.  Meditation has been practiced for centuries – there must be something to it. Heaven knows I could use a few moments everyday to calm and focus my mind, and silence some of the endless chatter. 

I downloaded a free app and decided to give it a try. I made the decision to COMMIT 10 minutes every evening to meditation. Then I connected this new habit to a pre-existing habit in my routine so it would  stick. I am at the age where lotions and potions are now a part of my nightly routine, so I figured this was a good place to “stick on” a new habit. I created a warm and inviting space for my meditation practice. After I wash my face and apply said lotions and potions, I meditate for 10 minutes every evening while the serums and creams work their magic (I’m looking younger, right? LOL). 
Sticking this new meditation practice to my already existing nightly routine has ensured that I am consistent with my nightly meditation. I have stuck to my new routine and the results have been amazing. My mind is clearer, I get more restful sleep, and I can stay more focused during the day. I was skeptical, but putting the effort and time into creating a daily meditation practice has been worth it. After a few weeks of nightly meditation, the RIPPLE EFFECT has started to set in. I’m hooked.

So the question is: where will you stick your daily practice routine in your day?  Write it down and commit.  

If you want to ignite, discover, and fall in love with the Artist Within you need to take action and develop the habit of a daily practice routine. It’s that easy;)

Happy practicing!

Andrea “keepin’ it real” Donais

P.S. I would love to hear if this process works for you. Send me an email and let me know!

Additional Resources on Building Habits

If you are interested in the topic of behavioural science and building habits, check out the following books.

  • Feel Better in 5, author Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
  • Tiny Habits, author B.J. Fogg
  • The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg
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