I've been doing the exercise where you go through each string (1-2-3-4'th frets) down to the high E, and then back up to the Low E (backwards). I've noticed that when i'm descending, I can play it a lot more smoother and my fingers can easily "shift". While i'm ascending bacwkards, while I have to take my fingers off, sometimes my pinky will just float around by the time I get to the first fret. Is this normal?
Yes. It means keep practicing.
yeah, once you build up enough muscle everything becomes pretty much the same smoothness
And as you get more speed you will see that your finger will lift less of the fretboard.
The last two posts are spot on, keep at it and before long you'll be doing it without noticing...... a bit like I did before I read this thread