Best Time of Day to Practice | Hub Guitar

Best Time of Day to Practice

Artwork by Sergey Banityuk

What Time Should You Practice Each Day?

Short answer

Any time can be great for practice, as long as it’s the same time, and every day.

Long answer

The best time of day is the time that is most reliable for you and your schedule. This is whatever time that you can practice the most consistently. This will depend entirely on your lifestyle. Examples of practice times that have worked consistently for others include: in the morning before leaving the house, at lunch time or during a lunch break, and at home after dinner. Each of these times has different advantages and disadvantages to them.

Only you know what times will work for you consistently. But make no mistake about it, the most important consideration is whether or not you will be able to practice at that specific time every day. The next consideration will be your general energy levels at these different times of day, as well as the amount of time that you generally have available to practice when the time comes.

Ideally, Practice Consistently at the Same Time Every Day

If practicing after lunch only works for you on the weekends, then that is a terrible practice time. It is possible that you could have an agreement with yourself that you will practice after breakfast on the weekdays, and after lunch on the weekends. However, for the sake of building good practice habits it is by far the best choice to practice consistently at the same time every day, if possible.

Daily habits must be kept as simple and consistent as possible.

The first thing that you should think about is whether you will be able to practice at the proposed time each day. For instance, if you often are required to go to work early, then it’s probably not a good idea to try to practice before work. If you like to go to lunch with your friends, your lunch hour may not work. And if you tend to pass out after dinner, evening is a bad time.

Thinking back upon the most recent weeks and months, what time of day was the most reliable for you?

The most common choices are:

  • early in the morning before leaving the house
  • during the lunch hour
  • as soon as you return home for the day
  • after dinner or before bed

Thinking about your schedule, see if one of these times will fit for you consistently.

Practice in the Morning

For those committed to improving, this is one of the best choices available.

Practicing in the morning ensures that you will always spend some of your budgeted time on guitar. At any other time of the day, you may already have spent (or committed to spend) your time and energy.

Practicing in the morning is not just for “morning people”; most people can likely train themselves to do it.

Bottom line: if you want the best results, consider practicing first thing in the day.

Practice During Lunch Hour

Some learners have found success by practicing during their lunch hour.

Your lunch break might be the perfect time to practice, assuming:

  • You have a place at work where it’s okay to practice.
  • Your work environment is supportive of personal growth.
  • Your image will not be affected negatively.
  • You can leave an instrument at work to practice on.
  • You can get by on eating energy bars at your desk instead of having a real lunch.

This practice habit is easily impacted negatively by lunch meetings and appointments.

Practice When You Get Home

If your day-to-day routine (and travel time) are not particularly exhausting, you may find luck here.

As soon as you get home, drop your bags, and hit the practice routine.

This can be hard to manage if:

  • Your energy levels are anything other than very high.
  • You sometimes make plans in the evening.
  • You are susceptible to being distracted by an empty stomach.

Practice After Dinner

This is a favorite practice time for casual learners. It is a fairly reliable time, and it comes at a time when the day’s duties are often more or less finished.

If you only eat dinner at home, this may be for you. However, this routine can be affected negatively by:

  • A heavy meal (or any meal, if you tend to feel sluggish after dinner)
  • Alternate dinner plans
  • Other lingering obligations that remain after dinner time

Practice Before Bed

Another favorite practice time for casual learners, and unfortunately one of the least productive for some people. Unless you typically experience a “second wind” before bed, this may be a difficult time to practice. You are basically saying, “Guitar comes last, and I will begin my practice after I have exhausted all of my useful energy on my other priorities.”

Of course, there’s no reason why this can’t work. It’s just not ideal for some people. Others may find this arrangement to be the best.

Managing Energy Levels

Most people find that they have times of the day where they enjoy more energy, and other times when they are unable to do much of anything.

Two of the more common times to experience a slump are: in the afternoon after lunch between 2 PM and 4 PM, and in the evening just after dinner. These slumps in energy levels are driven by circadian rhythm, dietary habits, work schedules, and possibly just genetic differences between different individuals. Those who are more wired to be a "night owl" may also find that their energy level is not good during the morning.

Most people can also think of a time during the day when they feel the most productive. For many people this time comes shortly after waking. Others might experience this late at night.

Think about your daily schedule and ask yourself what is it that affects your energy level on a day-to-day basis. Do you feel the most alert in the morning after you’ve had your coffee? Or in the evening after you’ve had your dinner? Only you can discover what times are the most appropriate for your guitar practice—and, indeed, whether your guitar practice is high enough in priority to occupy this high-productivity time of yours.

Practice Time Available

The last consideration is simply how much time is available to practice. If it comes down to a choice between practicing for 10 minutes each morning or 30 minutes each evening, the latter is probably better. You need to make sure that the practice time that you have available is sufficient for you to meet your goals.

Coda

In summary, you want to do the following:

  • Set a specific daily practice goal, in minutes.
  • Choose a time for this practice where you will be available to practice every single day.
  • Consider how your energy level will be doing at this time, and whether that is conducive to your practice.
  • Think about any other circumstances which may limit your ability to practice. For instance: the demands of work, travel, and so forth. Plan ahead for these and never be caught by surprise. Try to have a plan for how you can practice every day no matter what life throws at you.

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