settling into routine

This is a time of year that many of us have made New Year’s Resolutions & are struggling to keep up with them.   The yoga (or gym) classes tend to shrink in size as people find life too busy to keep up the habit.  I know this because I have been that person in the past more times than I care to admit.  But, settling into a routine doesn’t have to be like this.


Knowing where you want to go

Part of achieving goals is making them in the first place. 

As a teacher or studio owner, making goals that cover various aspects of your life are essential.

Click here to read more about 30 ideas for goal setting.

For my students, assigning a worksheet to create 2-month goals they would like to accomplish can make the difference between students that stay & students that leave.

By setting a shorter time frame, both my students & I can be hyper-focused on what needs to happen now … there is no room for students to procrastinate from week to week because then their goals won’t get accomplished.

It also has given them an opportunity to let me know something they would like added to their lesson that we don’t currently do.  Rather than keeping the start of the year routine, the mid-point is a great opportunity to have students take more ownership of their programming! And once I know their goals, we can start settling into a routine … again.


Student goals

Students may just surprise you as they make their goals.

One year, a student wrote down “Rhythm Menagerie” by Wendy Stevens.  No shock there since he had told me before the holidays he would like to get back to that resource.   

However, another student really surprised me when he wrote down sight-reading from his Four Star Sight Reading & Ear Training book.  Wait, what?  The activities that had been like pulling teeth for him to just get them done?  Those ones?  Turns out our warm-ups had shown him gaps in his knowledge & he was ready to fill in those gaps … so long as we did them during lessons so he can be guided through them.

The best goals are the ones the student realizes need work.  

As they fill out their goals, encourage them to think about what they need the most help with.  This ensures they settle into a great routine.

Over the years, I have been impressed with the responses that I got from students.  They really thought about the goals & even realized that it would take a good routine to pull this off.  Each week, we reviewed their goal sheets to see what is moving forward & what needs to change so they continue to progress.


Settling Into a Routine … Again

Setting goals without having a plan results in people dropping out of yoga class.  Well, not just yoga class.  Without a plan, goals are just empty words … much like a hamster on a wheel going nowhere really fast.

For myself, I like making a weekly list of goals & tasks that need to be accomplished so I can move closer to my goals.  From there I can happily tick off the tasks as they are completed … I love seeing a task get crossed off a list!  It keeps me in my happy place.


Set aside days for certain tasks

My weekly list shows which days I will do certain tasks.  Most things I don’t worry about having a specific due date since I like & need the flexibility.  After all, life happens … like when the school calls to let me know that one of my kids is sick & needs to come home.  My whole workday gets topsy-turvy with my usual morning activities getting pushed to the evening & some being pushed to other days completely.

In the early stages of settling into a routine or habit, it’s best to schedule it in.

This gets our brains used to the new pattern of our days & weeks.


Help students do the same

In the studio, students & I talk about specifically what THEIR practice times will look like & how they will make their practice a routine.

More practice won’t happen unless there is a plan in place.

Learning songs won’t happen unless there is a focus each practice session & each repetition of a section.

It’s hard work thinking about the how & when of practice, especially when your students are as young as mine.  But, it’s worth it to have a plan so progress actually happens.  This lifelong skill will help them avoid the dreaded New Year’s resolution failure that so many of us go through.


Finding creative approaches

It might not seem like routines & creativity go together. But, they do!

Routines without any variety get old pretty fast. And, who wants that? Not me!

This can be as simple as getting off the bench each & every lesson (something we do in my online piano studio), improvising, or using story-based repertoire. Whatever helps your students reach their goals is on the table (or piano so to speak).

If you are looking for resources to support your students in their goals (& would rather not have to create it all on your own), visit The Unfinished Lesson shop for a wide variety of options!

Settling Into YOUR routine

Settling into a routine doesn’t have to be mindless.  We can choose to ADD activities or routines that help us reach our goals & REMOVE many of the activities that don’t bring joy or personal fulfilment to our lives. 

P.S. I say many activities because there are just some activities that we need to do.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a fix for loading the dishwasher or other tasks that you just don’t want to do.  However, if you happen to  LOVE loading the dishwasher & washing dishes … email me.  We can totally help you out!

NOTE: This is a rewrite of an article from January 19, 2018.  It has all the great ideas from before, plus more!

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