Often, people who are starting out in a sport or creative activity who aren’t there sincerely will ask the question, “How often should I practice?” While it’s kind of those people to notify the instructor that they will likely drop out of the activity, it’s a bad question.
The truth is, at the beginning of your learning journey you know nothing. So you have to learn each skill, and then you have to practice it until it’s second nature so you can move on to more advanced skills. There’s no other way to acquire that knowledge. As a result, you really should practice daily. Daily practice has been shown to aid in mastering a skill more efficiently than you would if you practiced haphazardly or not at all. It’s through that repetition that you internalize the skill.
But even as you advance through your chosen sport or creative activity, you have to maintain that ritual of daily practice, both to keep up your skills and to build a solid layer of new skills. Daily practice as a more advanced practitioner gives you another advantage: It puts you in a position to analyze your practice, to make fair assessments and recognize patterns and make connections, and to find areas and ways to take calculated risks.
It’s not like you have to sit in the exact same place in the exact same way at the exact same time of day while practicing, although there are situations where that is encouraged. You can change up your practice so you don’t get bogged down in a rut. The important part is that you practice daily.
Need a little motivation to implement a daily practice schedule for your own skill building? Try out these tools designed to help build that habit:
- Don’t Break the Chain (mentioned in the linked article above)
- 100 Days (If you’re familiar with Dance in a Year, this is the method Karen Cheng used.)
- InkyGirl Wordcount Challenge (for writers of every type)
There are also numerous programs for creating every day for a quite a few disciplines. Do a quick search on your favorite search engine for “daily challenges [your target discipline]”, and remember to record and reflect on your practices!
And if all else fails, and you just feel like you can’t spend one more day in a row on your practice, print out these words of wisdom from Ira Glass and place them where you can see them.