Recently I've been spending a large proportion of my time practicing, something I always enjoy, and it's led to many new discoveries for me, both in my playing and in my approach to not only playing but also practicing.
I've long felt that practicing is an art form in itself - a good practice session, no matter whether it's twenty minutes or five hours can make you feel fresher, more energised, inspired, focussed, joyful...many things! Similarly, it can sometimes feel frustrating - patterns/exercises not feeling as comfortable as they did yesterday, musical ideas not flowing as freely as they have previously etc. but one thing it should never feel is boring. I've had students in the past who've admitted they find practicing boring and would rather be playing xStation or Playbox or whatever, and when we've drilled down into why this is, the reasons have always been the same: they either don't know what to practice or indeed how to practice.
What to practice is relatively simple to answer: work on things that you've been shown by your teacher, or anything you want to improve upon. This is where being honest with yourself and knowing your weak areas is really important - you won't know what you need to practice if you don't tell yourself what you need to practice!
Knowing how to practice is slightly trickier to master as it requires you to have a fair amount of self discipline. So many times I've seen students who claim to be bored of practicing when in actuality they're not really practicing at all but sitting at the kit simply playing over and over again things that they can already play. While this, at first, can be fairly gratifying - it's always nice to sit down and play your favourite groove, pull off your favourite fill etc. - it soon gets monotonous when that's all you do. With this in mind, I always recommend to my students a four-step practice program with each step being given an equal amount of time:
1. Warm up/hand technique : this is the perfect time to work on rudiments, sticking patterns, dynamics, technical exercises and any fundamentals of your playing, and can be done either on the kit or practice pad, snare, pillow etc.
2. Foot technique: again rudiments, patterns, fundamentals etc. this time with the feet.
3. Practice time: work on new ideas, refresh old ideas, work more dynamics into your playing, work on flow around the kit, stamina...whatever you need to work on.
4. Playtime: simply enjoy playing your instrument, BUT, try working some of the ideas from steps 1-3 into your playing.
I also recommend using a practice diary or schedule - simply writing down what you've been practicing (and when), tempos, dynamics and how it actually felt (being honest with yourself) can work wonders for your practice time. They say that practice makes perfect...but I prefer to say that prepared practice makes perfect, and as for the five P's? Proper Practice Prevents Poor Performance...