I just read an interesting article from a Yahoo website.
The piece I am quoting talks about the best time to workout to get the best results: early in the morning for weightloss, in the afternoon for strength gain etc.
Then the end of the article has this little gem:
You want to: Set a personal record (and smoke the competition).
You should try: The same time, all the time.
Ever notice how there are workouts when everything just seems to click and you feel almost bionic? That's how you want to feel during a competition, and you'll have a better chance of that happening if you work out at the same time every day. Whether you choose to train at 6 a.m., noon or 6 p.m., the timing must be consistent so that you can rule it out as something that could affect your performance. Then you can act like your own coach, analyzing your workouts and looking for rogue factors that tend to throw you off (your pre-race snack, your stress level, the amount of sleep you got the night before). You'll have your routine down by race day, and you'll know you did everything you could to put your best self on the starting line.
It's funny, because I preach this to parents and students alike. When they ask me "how long" they should be practicing (or playing) their guitar, my response is always the same. It's not about how long, it's about when. The most important part to being successful is developing a consistent routine. For beginners, even if it's 5 minutes a day, but it's 5 minutes at 6pm or 7am or whatever, that is the path to being successful; because 5 minutes will turn into 7, into 10 etc etc.
For me, when I was growing up taking lessons, I can remember from about the ages of 8-12, my "practice" time was 5:30. Always right before dinner, just off the kitchen so my mom could make sure I was doing what I was supposed to. I'll admit, there were times when I HATED 5:30 and wanted nothing to do with my guitar, but sure enough every 5:30 rolled around, there I was sitting down with my guitar. Once I got past this "do I have to practice" stage, my guitar was almost always in my hands when I was at home. I was in so many bands so I was either practicing, rehearsing or recording. When I got to University, I again had to insert structure into a chaotic lifestyle and since I was always done school at about 2:30, my practice time went from 3:30-5:30. Then a dinner break, then from about 7:30 onward.
I have posted blogs and articles in the past about how to get the most out of this time, but really it's the routine that is by far and away the most important part. There are times that I would be happy if one of my students did nothing but "play around" on his/her guitar, but did it at exactly the same time everyday. Getting them to "practice" would be a cinch once the routine was established.