I always give my students a few pieces of advice to build a guitar habit
- Play for 15 minutes each day
- Put the guitar down and walk away after 15 minutes
- You can pick it up again if you want to – but do at least 15 mins
- Repeat every day
- If you miss one day, don’t worry but really focus on it not become two.
The process of habit stacking is the method of taking one of your existing daily routines or actions – and adding another action to the end of that.
For example, let’s say you brush your teeth every morning before you go to work. You could decide that immediately after brushing your teeth – as soon as you put that toothbrush down, you will do one pushup. The beauty of this technique is that the first action already happens each day (brushing teeth) – so this can be the trigger for the second habit that you want to build (doing one pushup each day).
Contrast this with just having to remember each morning to do one pushup.
First, you’d have to remember that your intention was to do one – during a very busy time of day. Second, you would have to pick a moment to say “ok, right now is the moment. I’m doing it right now”. The beauty of habit stacking is that the first habit is established so the second one will happen if you just make that link.
Choosing a trigger
The following are things that you may do every day:
- Brush teeth
- Eat breakfast
- Fill the dishwasher after breakfast
- Get dressed
- Have a morning coffee
- Run or other exercise
- Arrive home
- Take off your coat/shoes when returning home
- Close your laptop for lunch or end of day
- Use facebook
- Put kids to bed
- Eat dinner
- Watch TV
- Get dressed yourself for bed
Most of these can be great triggers for you to add “15 minutes of guitar” to the end of. Guitar practice is not a difficult thing to keep doing once started. It’s just that initial trigger – picking up the guitar in the first place.
So if you tend to be rushed in the morning, 4 kids have to be dressed for school, you’re looking at stacking the guitar habit after something you do each night after they go to bed. If you are a morning person, you might eat breakfast, stand up from the table and boom .. guitar habit.
Do make the first habit (the trigger) really clear. Eating dinner might mean talking with your spouse afterwards, then cleaning up, then something else. If this can be specific, like “when I leave the table after dinner” or “when I shut my laptop after work”, there will be no doubt when that guitar mus be picked up!
Habit stacking is the ultimate hack for building a guitar habit.
If you choose the first (trigger) habit well, it’s amazing how effective this can be.
After 21 days, habits tend to form into long-term habits. So you just need to habit stack for 3 weeks and you’ll notice it’s no longer hard to pick that guitar up!