Ok so i play just about every day for a couple of hours or more but how do i know when im actually improving or just messing around? What kind of exercises should i be doing?

thanks in advance
I recommend the following:

Make sure you are doing some scale work each time you practice and use a metronome. This and playing arpeggios will do quite a bit for your muscle memory and speed.

As far as improving--record yourself at least once a month. It will help you to hear where you need to improve as well as show you how far you've come.

And if you can get some face time with an established bass player or even better a teacher, it will push you forward significantly. Even if you can get just an hour with someone to evaluate your playing and strengths and weakness, it will be worth it.
Find some people to jam with over the weekends that helped me immensely(sp?). Also practice scales like Anarkee said with a metronome. Also you could find a song that you want to learn that is challenging, and practice that with a metronome until it's easy, then repeat the process.
definitely. 'jammin with peeps' will help. you develop better improvising skills, you learn to play more reliably.
type one handed with your fretting hand. you may go slower, but it's like a fast paced tapping excercise... sorta. hey, it works.
Quote by FatalGear41
I wouldn't call what we have here on the Bass Forum a mentality. It's more like the sharing part of an AA meeting.

Quote by Jason Jillard

Warwick Fortress>>Acoustic AB50