top of page

The Power of Rituals: Unlocking Focus Through Habits

Having rituals or habits that create focus can enhance productivity and creativity. 

Do you have any habits or rituals that help you stay focused on a given task? For example, when I'm cooking in the kitchen, I can't stand to have my sleeves come down to my wrists. I must always roll them up or push them up. (The same is true when I play the piano.)

For me, there's something about lighting a candle right before my yoga practice that helps set the mood and my intention for that practice. 

Apparently, I’m not alone!

A row of lit candles with a dark backgroun

Creating an Environment for Focus

During one of my piano lessons, my student, James, and I were correcting a passage in his repertoire. He was focused and excited about the music, Musette in D by Bach.   

Now, this student wears almost the same type of outfit to every lesson: cargo pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a knit beanie on his head. Let’s say, he’s got style! 

Why do I share this with you? 

When the time came to buckle down on the piece of music even more and get into the fine details he took his hat off. He intuitively knew taking his hat off would enable him to be more attentive to his work. 

Is there anything specific about a hat that would cause someone to play the piano better, having it on or off?

Absolutely not. But I think it was the idea, the mood that was set, and the intention that was signaled. 

Two straw hats sitting on a park bench

What's Your "Focus Trigger?"

I get it. When I need to sit at my computer to get some writing down, it is often counterproductive for me to wear my coziest sweatshirt. That sweatshirt creates sleepy, curl up under a blanket, read a book, or do some journaling vibes- not serious work vibes. 

I think the same must have been true for James with his hat. 

(Interestingly enough, in the past couple of months he's fallen in love with Chopin and is playing brilliantly. That hat has been off for the entirety of those Chopin lessons.)

Watching him remove his hat to get down to work really helps me think through the tiny little habits and rituals that are present, or lacking, in my life, that could be making a significant difference in my ability to focus on my given tasks (profession and personal, including family and downtime). 

Perhaps that ritual needs to be putting my phone aside so I can focus on the given task. Maybe it's putting on some upbeat music to lift my spirits when cleaning the house. A personal favorite is practicing the piano at night to only the light of the piano lamp. 

What's your "hat"? What do you need to take off (or put on) to get focused on your work (or rest)? 

There are lessons to be learned in this question– lessons about knowing ourselves and the stimulants that help and hurt us in any given situation. That's mostly outside the realm of this conversation (and my expertise). But from what I've gathered from my personal experience, that inner knowing of ourselves is there if we listen. 

Quote graphics in black with blue highlights on white background.  Text reads, "Having rituals or habits that create focus can enhance productivity and creativity."


Food for Thought:

What rituals or habits help you give your full attention to your tasks? A piece of clothing? An invigorating playlist?  White noise in the background?  A short walk before working? Breathing exercises? 

Envision what it would feel like to support yourself through your day with grounding practices that help remain fully present for each moment. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment as you learn more about what works for you.  And once you do— use it!  

Here’s to living life with our “hats off.”


To have these "Insights From The Piano Bench" essays land directly in your inbox, subscribe to my monthly blog digest newsletter. Let's explore what music can teach us about life together.

If you are looking for a teacher who prioritizes habits and rituals around learning to play the piano, contact me! It is my true joy to bring the joy of music into hearts and homes through personalized remote piano lessons that will help you feel seen, supported, and encouraged.

If you are looking for additional support and encouragement in your musical journey, check out Notes to Self: A Guided Mindful Practice Journal designed to bring mindfulness and celebration to your practice sessions. 

Are you an adult musician looking for community with other adults actively pursuing the skill of mastering an instrument?  If so, you are invited to join my Facebook Group, Notes to Self Musical Community: A Supportive Group for Adults. I hope to see you there!


bottom of page