Time management

Time management is easily one of the most overlooked aspects when it comes to practicing guitar skills. it is a well known fact that practice makes perfection, and some musicians may stick to repeating this, hoping that investing a certain number of hours per day is enough to make the progress they hope for. The truth is that the quality of each practice session is as important as the actual time invested, if not more. In other words, practicing correctly is all about making a good use of time.

It is not uncommon to hear about musicians that practice four, six, maybe even eight hours a day. Impressive as it may sound, it is not a feasible possibility for everyone. Musicians who take their studies seriously may also have unrelated full time day jobs, academic pursuits, and general activities that may end up taking up most of the scarce twenty four hours that make each day. Needless to say, putting in a lot of time has obvious benefits, but it's more of an ideal situation than an actual possibility for most people. In the light of these considerations, time management becomes an important factor for practicing guitarists. One of the first things to take into account is the difference between playing and practicing, which is easily forgotten once the fingers have been set in motion. While playing specific pieces, songs, or riffs may be part of a practice schedule (if they are included in a setlist, for example), it is crucial to make a distinction between playing with a purpose and just moving your fingers over the fretboard without any real goal.

This last activity may in fact be useful sometimes, as a way of relaxing, coming up with new ideas, maybe even loosening the fingers as part of a warmup routine. But it should never be confused with the actual practice time, as casual playing is most often done in a comfort zone of already mastered licks, progressions and techniques. Going over the same things again and again will quickly become boring, reducing the will to even pick up the guitar and eventually making the skills of the player stagnate.

The recommended approach is to have a series of exercises to go over. Once a routine is established, some daily time must be allotted to work on it, whether it is an hour or three. Even doing half an hour a day is more useful than picking up the guitar once a week. It is also not necessary to practice every possible exercise every day. A good way to structure a practice session is deciding beforehand what skills are to be worked on that day. This will result in a focused practice: once the exercises are chosen, the practice time is broken down into 10 or 15-minute blocks, each covering a very specific subject or variation of an exercise. 

This facilitates isolating the exercises that demand more practice, while making complex subjects easily manageable. At the same time, it functions as an incentive for practice, as 10 minutes aren't really that much, and a little break is possible after each block.  The fragments to be practiced should cover not only specific techniques, but also particular applications, as in B major scale in first shape, using an i m right hand pattern, or A minor arpeggio on the first string using one handed tapping. That way the subject will be broken down into its minimum cells, and the hand will be trained in specific movements that may later be combined.