Do any of you actually DOCUMENT your training?


Does it take more time DOCUMENTING than actually DOING??

ive been massively needing to gain focus and do some goal setting with my skills. So I am trying to focus on a few things (Claus Levin ideas) and do some metronome work so I can actually document and measure and have some clue of what I am actually doing

So I had a free day today. I decided to mainly focus on 1 string skills such as the Yngwie 6 note patterns etc.

Well I also wanted to document everything to track total time and bpms etc. I started at 10AM, worked a while. Took a break to eat, Played and documented some more. Went to the gym. ate again. Settled in to play more tonight etc.

long story short, after tallying the ACTUAL playing time, I ended up with 146 mins. ‘Only’ 146.

except for the 2hrs of so spent going to the gym, I feel I worked on guitar all day…yet I only have 146 mins actual playing time to show for it??

Its weird because I SEE (and seriously need) the benefits of documenting things so I KNOW what I am doing instead of guessing. But is it supposed to take that long to document stuff???

I feel like if I would have “just played” and someone asked me how much I played I would have said “4-5 hours.” I easily spent 60-90 mins figuring out how to document stuff

So there is a benefit since I pushed myself harder than normally to where I actually had to do stuff like play 3 minutes and rest 1 minute or whatever. if I were “just playing” id never push that hard.

and of course in a month ill have some clue what I was doing whereas if I were winging it id have no clue

The tradeoff being that I feel I lost precious time trying to figure out how to document stuff.

Whats the balance?? I realize that the documenting process will streamline. for instance tomorrow I wont need to write down as much detail and/or ill just copy/paste

So do any of you actually document things or keep any kind of playing diary??

Thanks, JJ


Yes, a practice journal is tremendously helpful.

Goals on a notecard used as a bookmark in a Moleskine manuscript notebook (the larger size).

Time on task is a humbling stat to contemplate. Professional project managers know that the most actual productive work an employee will accomplish in an 8 hour day is 3 hours. And that’s the most! Average is much closer to 2.

I use Ultraworking’s work cycles (very structured 30m on/10m off with planning & review). 9-1 every weekday, 1-3ish on weekends. Maybe an extra hour in the afternoon.

That’s “only” three hours a day, but sustained that’s MASSIVELY more focused work (& more high quality output) than all but the most insanely determined people can do.

Measuring seat time is a trap. Manage your energy, not your time. Devote your most focused mental energies (early in the day for most people) to your Most Important Work (and block distractions—use breaks for what energizes you, not Facebook) and aim for consistency. Have a fallback—better to keep up your daily streak with only ten minutes of Most Important Work than take days off.

Other things that help: plan tomorrow before you go to bed, time blocking instead of to-do lists, get enough sleep, don’t eat junk, physical activity everyday, be accountable to someone you’d be embarrassed to disappoint (ie not your mom).


Nope. I don’t have nearly the time I’d want to practiice to the degree I’d like to, and for me music is a way to indulge in the non-analytic side of my brain (to a degree, at least) outside of a pretty analytic day job.

That’s not to say there isn’t some analytical thinking going on - I’m a big proponent of growth through identifying playing challenges, distilling them to their component parts, and dividing and conquering. But, I’m not going to get more structured than that basic problem solving approach - rather than documenting and tracking everything, I just play.

I’m also definitely not saying there isn’t potentially value in your more structured approach, but for me, I appreciate working on more of a seat-of-the-pants level, and I’ve definitely seen significant results this way.


as I have done for 31 years lol

Its funny, when I did powerlifting I was ultra organized using these Russian (Sheiko) routines. I planned out EVERY rep ahead of time and it was pretty intricate. but basically I never had a bad workout. Everything was calculated: total reps, % of max, total poundage etc etc.

But for guitar ive generally just winged it. Deffo time for a change for me


I’ve gone on practice journal stints here and there. These days I find it most helpful to log my performance of songs at rehearsal, then build a daily practice list for the next few days based on that. So my practice log is based entirely on my bands songs, riffs, leads, solos and backing vocal parts. I make a daily checklist of stuff to work on and tick the boxes as I work on them during the day.

When I was logging more technical routine stuff I found myself WAY overthinking my playing and making less actual music. I was miserable while doing it. So no more of that.


well I can easily foresee a partial type of documentation where you have certain key exercises with goals attached to them. for instance reliably doing the Yngwie 6 note pattern across the strings at 150bpm. Then just closely document that and maybe whatever one or two main exercises support that goal.

Then just free play for the rest of your practice time or whatever.

It is probably going to be like counting calories. Once you have your meals calculated, the hard work is done and its just checking off boxes after that etc


2nd day much more efficient. got 131mins playing time out of total of 150 mins. decent for a work night

way more efficient and streamlined on notating stuff


I worked out a practice schedule, and I just try to follow that exactly. About four hours a day broken down into half hour segments to work on different things.

I don’t keep detailed records of technical specs, but I try to follow my practice outline to the letter because if not I just wind up losing focus and drifting into noodling. I set a timer for 30 minutes for each segment, and then within that I set another timer for 5 to 10 minutes depending on what I’m working on within that 30 minute time frame. I find that’s what keeps me on schedule, and does not allow for drifting off. If I need a break I’ll get up and do something around the house I need to do or watch a guitar YouTube video or something.

I drop my daughter off at school at 9:15, I’m home by 9:30 and then I try to get my workout in, have something to eat and then knuckle down from about 11:30 to 3:30 when I have to go to school to pick her up. I have found that laying out the schedule is the only thing that really keeps me truly focused. I do that Monday to Friday and then on weekends I may not play at all or if I do it’s some fun noodling.

But it is always a constant battle between focused practice and just noodling away.


This is my current schedule. And when it comes to the technique segments, I pick two things (for example, for legato practice I have 2 different things to work on, arpeggio work, same thing, only two things) and drill them until they’re where I want them, then pick two new things. That way, I can focus, because as we all know, for every subject there’s literally a thousand different things you could work on, so taking just a couple of things and not moving on to anything else until they’re down assures progress by not getting lost trying to focus on too many things.

As Jon said, a couple of exercises that support each other, drilled consistently until they’re perfected, before moving on. Too much shit becomes a clusterfuck, it’s too easy to get distracted by the shitload of stuff that’s out there unless you pick something to focus on and stick with it.


Wow, that isn ambitious practice schedule! Are you getting good results from it?

I was wondering that with all those different things you work on, there isn’t time set aside from writing songs. Is there a separate time you set aside for that or do you just do that whenever you get an idea for a song?


I have just joined the forum and have been contributing in this post Fretting hand doesn't keep up with picking hand
I have been speaking about a very, very focused form of practice that as of late has started to pay off in huge way, truly allowing me to become aware of the results as the are happening in context. There was a piano player named Bill Evans who was asked by a younger player what he practiced and he said “I practice the minimum”. This what I am doing but by focusing that much on very little the energy is increased tremendously almost as if magic. Perhaps it could inspire you. I am calling it a form of documentation and I hope to expand on it since there is so much more to say.


yep, focus is a huge key


Definitely, but as much as I try to stick to it, it’s just a template. I may continue to work on something past the allotted time if I feel like I should, and a lot of the stuff is repeated. Any of the technique stuff is reinforced by the scale work, since I put a lot of picking/legato sequences into scale forms.

But the bottom line is that it’s a guide to keep me focused on improving multiple aspects of my playing, because it’s super-easy to wind up sitting there ripping thru licks and runs I’m already proficient at, and playing my favorite riffs and songs, which, while satisfying, isn’t going to take my playing to the next level. And it can be frustrating playing new/unfamiliar shit that sounds begginer terrible, but as they say - you don’t get better if all you do is play the stuff you’re already good at!

As for songwriting, I don’t really set aside a specific time for that. It’s more when inspiration strikes. If I come up with something I like, I just lay the idea down to my DAW and revisit it later to polish it.