How I Organize My Practice Schedule With a Text File

In this post I share my method for managing my practice schedule with a basic to-do list.

One of the reasons I post on Modern Guitar Hub is to organize the guitar and music knowledge I’m learning from various podcasts and YouTube videos. Plus, I present the information in a concise and practical format so that those with limited time to dedicate to guitar, can quickly obtain actionable insights.

But how do you stay organized with all of these learnings? Specifically, how do you keep track of when to practice and explore these learnings?

Take for example Rick Beato’s interview with Pat Metheny. The interview is nearly 2 hours long! It’s filled with a ton of information that can improve your abilities as a player and musician. Your first step may be watching the interview or reading the summary notes, but what next? Do you pick up your guitar immediately and start playing triads over bass notes? How do you start incorporating all these lessons into your practice schedule?

I’ve come up with a very simple method for tracking my objectives. It’s a Notepad .txt file that I simply call “to do”, it looks like this:

to-do list
My very basic, to-do list.

It has three sections, “today”, “soon” and “backlog”. Today is what I have committed to doing today, no matter what my schedule throws at me. Soon are things that I aim to complete within the next 1-2 weeks. Backlog are things I aim to complete within the next 1-3 months.

I’m constantly revising and reshuffling things around based on my near terms interests and goals. Today I’m trying out the color notes concept that Larry Carlton shared with Rick Beato. I’m also currently learning how to play bass guitar, and thus you see some bass related items in the soon category.

I keep the list short in order to maintain flexibility. 

My interests and inspiration may change and so I don’t want to lock myself into an overwhelming to-do list of things that I’ll never get to. I only have 30-60 minutes to dedicate to music on any given day, so the items tend to be specific as to what I’m trying to accomplish. And I only add items to this list that I’m truly interested in doing. This keeps me focused and feeling productive with how I spend my limited practice time.

When I complete an item I simply delete it from the list. I don’t keep a historical record of all the items that I’ve completed.

The best to-do list system is the one that works for you. I’ve found this method to be great for me in that it’s simple and easy to manage. Consider giving this method a try if you’re looking for some organization in your practice schedule!

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