The Power of Daily Habits (From Sight-Reading to Touch-Typing)

Daily habits should not be underestimated. If you want to acquire a skill, you have to start with small daily habits. In this article, we’ll look at the power of daily habits. 


power of daily habits


What if I were to tell you that daily habits are actually much more impactful than you might think?


With insights from James Clear’s book Atomic Habits and real-life examples of me learning how to touch-type, you’ll hopefully see a glimpse in the power of daily habits which you can adopt in any endeavour.


Atomic Habits

Have you read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear? If you haven’t then I strongly recommend you go and read it right after reading this article.


Atomic Habits is a book full of wisdom and insights on the importance of daily habits and how these can change your life as a whole. 


Let’s look at a handful of these insights.


Don’t dismiss small changes

One idea that really stuck with me was this one: 


quote from Atomic Habits


In other words, what you do on a day-to-day basis may not seem all that important. The short pieces that you sight-read daily may not seem to amount to much but wait a few years and you’ll see how far you’ve gone. Over time, these small daily habits will make you into a proficient sight-reader.


James Clear also says that:


the effect of daily habits


Learning through daily habits 

To illustrate, let’s take an example.


Recently, I’ve started learning how to touch-type. (I’m trying to touch-type right now!) Originally, I just thought it would be nice to type faster. Since I spend so much of my time writing blog articles, why not speed it up a bit and gain time? But then I thought, if I’m going to spend time trying to speed up my typing speed, then I might as well learn how to type properlyThere isn’t much sense trying to speed up something with a completely wrong technique!


It would be like trying to speed up your scales with crooked arms or something! Not very helpful. 


So I did a search on Google and found this touch-typing website where you can practise a small number of letters at a time from each row of the keyboard. After each exercise, it displays your typing speed and accuracy percentage and highlights the keys you’ve missed. So far, I’ve worked on the middle and top rows and have just started learning the bottom row. 


Document your progress 

As YouTuber Mike Boyd recommends doing in his Skillshare course on How to Learn: Strategies for Starting, Practicing & Mastering the Skills You’ve Always Wanted – which I highly recommend watching – I document my progress by writing down my typing speed and accuracy for each exercise so that I can see progress over time and stay motivated. 


touch-typing progress
Maybe I should work on my handwriting too!


I was typing as slow as a snail in the beginning! The keys that I could find so easily before were now foreign. I had to learn everything from scratch. It was hard and frustratingly slow. It felt like I was doing finger gymnastics! (You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever learned to touch-type.) 


Notice the small changes

But however hard it was, I stuck to it. I compared my scores from one day to the next and could see that although it didn’t feel like it at times, I was gradually improving, both in terms of speed and accuracy. To maximise my progress, I spent more time on the exercises with lower scores and made sure that I was always getting higher scores than the previous ones for all exercises.


I’m on Day 5 now and I can already see an improvement. It gives me hope that soon I’ll be able to type like a pro and not like a child using two fingers! (Actually, toddlers born with smartphones and tablets in their hands can probably type better than I can…) 


How about sight-reading?

This is great and all, but what about sight-reading?


I used touch-typing here as an example because I’m in the midst of learning this skill but I could’ve chosen any skill such as sight-reading. 


Like I mentioned in my very first blog article on What Is Sight-Reading, sight-reading is a skill like any other. You might struggle with it now but keep putting in the work and every now and then, look back and see if you notice improvement.


Unfortunately, sight-reading is not measurable like touch-typing is so it’s harder to track your progress. But I suggest you sight-read pieces you’ve sight-read in the past and see if it feels any easier, or try an app like Piano Marvel where you can track your progress.


Focus on your current trajectory

The last quote I want to leave you with is this one:


quote from Atomic Habits


Look at your current daily habits and ask yourself: Am I on the right trajectory? If not, what small changes can I implement today that will have a long-term impact on my life? What can I do every day to reach my goals?


To make sure you’re on the right trajectory with your sight-reading practice, check out this video on How to Practise Sight-Reading & Improve Faster.


Final words

This article may come across as a little random but I did have a goal in mind (besides practising my touch-typing!).


My goal was to remind you this: when you’re practising sight-reading, you may not see any progress from day to day but if you stick to it long enough, you will see improvement. So don’t obsess over your current results. Keep doing your daily sight-reading practice, believe in the learning process and I guarantee you that you will become a better sight-reader. 


So happy sight-reading and, as we say in French, “Bonne continuation”! – This saying literally means “good continuation” with the intended meaning of “I hope you have success in whatever you’re doing”, in short, “All the best”. 


I’m going to go work on the bottom row now… 




Some of the links in this description are affiliate links which means I may get a small commission if you purchase the product I recommend but at no extra cost to you. This helps support the blog and allows me to write articles like this every week. So thanks in advance for your support!


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    Emmanuelle Fonsny

    Emmanuelle Fonsny, or Manu, is a piano and violin teacher, composer and accompanist based in Sydney, Australia. She is passionate about sharing her love of music and her sight-reading and practice tips to help other pianists become more confident sight-readers.



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