Excellence is a Habit

Well, it was somebody else who said it first:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

– Aristotle

AristotleHabits are at the heart of everything. Not only at the heart of your actions – I do mean at the heart of everything.

Businesses, organizations, social movements, cultures and societies.

Record labels, DJs, clubs, music producers, your fans and your haters.

On a personal level your habits control the way you conduct your life. It depends on your habits what you ultimately achieve and become, or don’t.


Isn’t it plausible then that in order to become good at say, making music, it would be beneficial to try to understand a little bit about how habits work and how you can work with them?

I most definitely think so.

I wholeheartedly agree with one of my favorite writers, Charles Duhigg, who argues that establishing a proper understanding of habits reveals:

  1. That habits can be changed.
  2. The most effective ways to change them.


I wanted to wake you up to thinking about the importance habits play in your daily life.

Do you have some habits that are standing in the way of your personal productivity?

What new habits could you establish to help you on your journey?

Here are a few habits I have created which have been helpful for me:

  • Going to bed in time (9-11pm) / waking up early (5-7am).
  • Dedicating a set time every day to focus on my work and nothing else.
  • Switching off WiFi on my laptop when I start working.
  • Taking regular breaks from work to stretch out, breathe, exercise and open up my body.
  • Using and reviewing a time/task management system regularly.
  • Reviewing my goals and progress regularly.

They are simple habits, but become extremely powerful when followed through, day by day.


Trying to change too many habits at once is not a good idea. Most of us can’t handle that and eventually end up falling back to our old ways. Your chances of succeeding and making a permanent habit change are much better if you tackle habit change methodically, one thing at a time. Therefore I wanted to challenge you to, right now, ask yourself the question:

What is the one habit you can start working on – starting from today?


Smart Productivity for MusiciansTo learn more about the mechanics of habits and how you can shape yours, check out “Smart Productivity for Musicians”.

We begin the Smart Productivity journey with a lesson about habits. Because that is the foundation everything else in our lives is built on.

Let me finish this post with another quote.

…change is a process that never fully concludes. But that doesn’t mean it can’t occur.

– Charles Duhigg


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  • Ill Jah

    Hi, Ilpo, I heard about troubles with a sleep in the WeSpin interview, want to advise magic method which helps me: just imagine deep black eternal ‘nothing’ before closed eyes (as usual – it’s impossible and you will see different abstract pictures, which, i thing is a hypnotic and helps to sleep), and make yourself to fall in it – 100% working and checked on several people:)

    Best regards,

  • AAlx Brusten

    hi ilpo,

    my POV about this issue

    Waking up early, going to bed in time (for me those 2 things are crucial due to the fact i exercise regularly and sleep is verry important for me); Riding my bike day by day is also important because it helps me gain headroom; reading articles/ tutorials etc, it helps me by being more creative and inspired; analyze my favorite tracks in terms of layering helps me in my making music process;

    i recently split my “producing sessions” process into 3 phases in a week like that

    1) Producing

    2) listening to music and sampling what i love and the last but not least

    3) creating my own effects/atmospheres/baselines/ etc.

    and to answer your question – What is the one habit you can start working on – starting from today? is the last 2 things that you do and i never do..

    Using and reviewing a time/task management system regularly.
    Reviewing my goals and progress regularly.

  • ManyFold

    My experience on this is it’s much much easier to get new habit than to change old one. By introducing new habits to reduce the room and some old one will just go away. So it’s a good strategy to “replace” old bad habit by new good one .

    Hope it’s clear .