Hey all, I've noticed this problem in my practice and was wondering if others share this experience:

Problem: inability to stick to a routine & inability to track/monitor progress

Anyone out there share this frustration?

Your not the only one. You have to just decide to do it. No one is going to force you to. It helps if you at least define your end goal, and plan all the steps you need to accomplish that goal, but if your not going to force yourself when the motivation wanes to record your data or to guarentee you spend time working on the things you know will get you to your goal, then it just won't happen. You can make a ton of progress skipping around from lick to lick, technique to technique, song to song, but it tends to take longer. It's the whole idea of vertical vs horizontal growth.
To make huge strides "vertically" you have to spend time with material that challenges you and leads to progression in ability, if you're constantly jumping around you will have a hard time learning a certain aspect because you'll likely just trade off to something new before you get a firm enough handle on it for it to stick, and if your not being challenged horizontally , you're not practicing, you're just playing.
It's happened to me too.

I find setting specific, attainable, short-term goals helps me to stay focused.

If you alternate pick at 60 bpm and want to do it at 150 bpm that is too far out to be real.

Instead set your goal at 70 bpm. It's believable to your brain. Then when you hit 70, re-assess your goal. If you still want to go faster, set your goal at 80 bpm.

Modify this approach for other goals. Don't have too many goals at one time.

It's ok to change your goals too.
"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. This is my religion." -- Abraham Lincoln
Making smaller goals can help you achieve greater ones more easily. When i started out learning jazz for example my ears were not developed enough to handle large chunks of music to transcribe, so i made smaller goals to transcribe one phrase from the solo i was working on per day. After two weeks i had the entire solo down and i was able to both have fun and stick to one thing since i really wanted to learn that solo, and i was able to monitor progress by learning a small piece everyday. So small regular goals are often better than a large goal.

This is true for your practice routine as well. If you have problems sticking to a routine, make sure the only thing(s) in your routine are fun stuff, so you are motivated to do it. For a long time my routine only consisted of learning tunes of records, because that is what i enjoyed doing. Doing that daily allowed me to establish a practice routine and develop, but also later on adding stuff to it when i felt like it.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”

Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
Super helpful perspectives.

Do you folks methodically track and write down your progress? Good experience / bad experience?
I personally am very bad at keeping a log, but the things I am working on don't necessarily require one at the moment. I have been spending a lot of time memorizing my fretboard and applying it to various chord progressions in improvisation. The only thing I keep track of is my current working speed on two measures of Flight of the Bumble bee I am working on, but since that is currently a daily practice item, and I'm pretty involved with learning it, it's easy to remember my current BPM working speed.

One thing I've found helpful for my students is I send home an email after the lesson that details important things and a "checklist" of what they need to do that week so I don't yell at them during their next rehearsal. For the ones that really want me to challenge them, I create a detailed checklist for them to perform 1. Once a day and 2. Every time they pick up the guitar.

These tend to be things like 1. Say the name of each natural note , play [insert scale pattern] 3x before practicing, ect.

*shrug* Just some of the ideas I use, trying to be brief since I'm typing on my phone at the moment.
Quote by sanfender
Super helpful perspectives.

Do you folks methodically track and write down your progress? Good experience / bad experience?

I record and critique quite often. It might be with a new piece i am working on or with an old tune that i want to evaluate my improvisational concepts over. Seeing your playing grow over time is good, because it motivates you. Seeing your playing be crappy on video is both good and bad, depending which viewpoint you want to have. When i was younger i viewed it as negative, because i got discouraged and started telling myself i sucked, but nowadays if i see a flaw in my playing on a recording i know what to practice, and i can eventually get rid of that flaw.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”

Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
I practice very un-methodically. I may go through some speed licks, then practice improvising in certain styles, compose if the bug hits, or generally whatever else comes to mind. I've had not a lot of trouble making progress over a decently long period of time, although I will not tell you that my way is best for short term goals. I have no short term goals, only long term-lifetime goals, that require I master a broad array of different things. If you have short term goals, it's most likely best you become a bit more methodical in your practice.
Usually when I practice, I tend to stick to working on 2 styles at least every 3 weeks. After the 3 weeks are over I switch over to practicing my other 2 set of musical styles I know. When it comes down to building dexterity with lead I have too much things to list on my practice schedule to write down here, but lets just say that I have a lot of dexterity building exercises; that go from my picking straight down to my left hand finger independence. I have a practice schedule crafted specifically down to the technical side of things for lead, and rhythm. For rhythm I tend to study different rhythms, and practice it to a metronome learning different strumming patterns, and what not all with my right hand.

I'll deaden the strings, and solely practice my right hand technique (strumming). Then I'll move on to my chord vocabulary working on a whole bunch of switches from chords i'm struggling with ingraining them into my muscle memory. Building my chord vocabulary ranges from a lot of styles so if I feel like building up my funk chordal knowledge; I'll practice a whole wide range of funk chord inversions. I also have a schedule for my other chordal technique which includes triads. Basically just a whole bunch of different chords that i'm working on honestly.. My finger style practice schedule tends to be the same thing it consists of building technique, and practicing patterns and what not..

When it comes down to ear training I'll find a song that I feel as if, I would struggle with and slowly transcribe it note for note. Then when I finish transcribing said song, I move onto the next song that I feel I'd struggle with. I also have song practice included in my practice schedule. Which pretty much consists of me practicing the song I transcribed, and playing it to a metronome till I perfect it. I also have "improvisation" added to my practice schedule at the end. I basically reward myself with all the practice I've done by turning on my looper pedal, and throwing in a chord progression that I've been interested in lately.

It doesn't matter what style I need to improvise in, I just tend to take from everything I learned, and utilize it in a musical manner. Then when i'm done practicing I'll just look around anywhere studying another musicians method of practice, and try, and experiment with their way of practicing to see if it can benefit me some how..

At the end of the day when it comes down to building your own method of practice. It takes a lot of experimenting which consists of learning from others, and going through a long trial, and error process. Until you finally understand what you're trying to figure out just clicks, and you understand how to approach whatever you're learning. It takes patience, and discipline, and if there's one thing I learned from being a guitarist is that you'll have to fail at least one thousand times before you get what you've been practicing right.

It really builds up your patience, and discipline, and you just start to see failing as a tool of learning. Which in my honest opinion I think is amazing because people tend to perceive failing in a negative aspect. When it's really a positive learning interaction you're having. Any time I get into something new, I just know that it's going to contain a lot of mistakes and failing, but at the end of the day that failing just refines you to become a better guitarist. Don't quit just stick with it through thick, and thin!

Trust me on this you will be rewarded with your experience through out this journey of music. A lot of people tend to quit the guitar within their first month because they don't have the patience, but it really builds your character up, and you can take what you learned from practicing an instrument, and apply it to your daily life. It really teaches you that instant gratification isn't everything. You really have to put effort into learning or you won't gain anything out of it. Anyways that's just my 2 cents good luck dude.

Last edited by Black_devils at May 19, 2015,
I tend to find a technique that I want to learn, or is necessary for a song and just go hard at it until I get it, and then I'll try to continue using it on a daily basis, even if it's for just one song. I'm terrible at splitting practice into a routine.