I commonly encounter guitarists who have just about everything together. They have 1) clearly set goals, 2) a vision of what they want to sound like, and 3) good basic technique. However, there is one element they lack - having an effective practice area.
This is so important to the success of a musician that it must be taken care of as soon as possible. Here's what you'll need:
1. An Entire Room - Dedicate one room of your house/apartment to only making music. For many, this is out of the question for various reasons like, "My child lives in that room!" or "That's my Dungeons and Dragons room!" If you already have a "cave" where you can retreat to at the end of a working day, set aside a space in the corner of the room. If all you have is your bedroom, again, set aside a space in your room for only making music.
2. A Music Stand - Research shows that musicians who use a music stand practice 80% longer than those who don't. Ok, so I don't know if that's true, but it sure sounds good and I think I heard it somewhere once... I can tell you from personal experience it has made a huge difference in my playing and many of my students' practice habits. If you're anything like me, you'll plan to sit for only 5 minutes to run through a few practice ideas and before you know it, 30 minutes has passed by. You'll be more focused and you'll spend more time practicing and not even realize it. Spend the $25-40 on the stand. It's worth it.
3. Written Goals - Make sure your goals and practice schedule are taped to the stand. Having a goal in mind is OK, but seeing it on paper in front of you has a much more significant impact. Again, I don't understand the science of this - I just know it works.
4. A Practice Time - Set aside a time each day for practicing so it becomes a regular part of your daily routine - as routine as brushing your teeth, only longer. It's better to practice a few minutes every day than multiple hours once a week.
5. A Guitar Stand - Place your guitar of choice on a guitar stand. Set it next to your music stand. Cover it with a sheet or blanket when not in use to prolong the string life. Or hang up five of them on your wall. It's win/win either way. Suddenly, the "I don't want take the time to remove the guitar from the case" argument goes away!
This is fairly straightforward stuff. No big secrets here. The key is to implement these ideas and others like it as soon as possible. Time to grab a guitar off the wall and get to it myself!