Keeping a Practice Log
I’ve rewritten this post several times now. I have written about Starcraft and the significance of finding meaningful metrics for practice.
Then I moved away from that and talked about how metrics matter, but the real thing you should be focused is a repeatable log that you can parse if you want.
But on the third pass I decided that doesn’t really matter either. Parsing data about how you practice or finding metrics that lead to results are certainly important, but over complications aren’t worth it.
The only things that matter when you are keeping a practice log is that you are planning and reflection.
We only have so much time to do what we want. To make our time practicing efficient and effective, we should have a plan. Make a plan and stick to it. If the plan isn’t working after a few weeks, adjust it. If you don’t know how, find an expert to help you.
Take some time to reflect after practicing. Did you stick to your plan? Did you make adjustments? Why? Are you progressing? Are you getting stronger in your abilities?
The most important (and thus most difficult) thing that you can do when you are reflecting on a practice session is find the things that were easy. I am all for having a mastery of fundamentals. But if you are only practicing something you can do without effort, you’re missing the point. We practice to improve.
My logs today
I keep two practice logs: one for training, and one for music.
Strength training is a great place to see the value of a plan. If you have a decent program and stick to it, you will see results. If you don’t have a decent plan or don’t stick to it, the logs will make that clear.
But most people know they should be tracking their lifts. The other log I use is for guitar. I write out what I am going to practice, and then how practice afterward. I actually pair this with a short recording of improvisation so I can listen to how I am progressing and what lines and sections I need to continue to develop.
I keep both these logs in markdown.
This post went from being really long with lots of ideas to really short with just one. Keep track of what you are practicing.