At some point in my guitar playing I found I wasn't consciously choosing what I wanted to work on anymore. I had gotten into a habit of letting my mind wander through the motion of my fretting and picking hands, working out musical problems as randomly as they showed up. And though this was a helpful practice in its own right (one can find some really beautiful sound gems this way), I felt like I needed to reassert my approach to practicing my instrument. I made the diagram below as a way to be more aware of how I wanted to spend my practice time.

Now before even picking up my instrument I choose whether I want to go left or right in the choice tree. If for example I choose right, I ask myself what I think I should practice, commit myself to the task such as "major and minor arpeggios over three octaves" or "right hand picking patterns", and for a specific amount time to concentrate my efforts. It is never easy to stay on task and many times I end up being whisked away into noodle-town, inspired by something I came across or just spacing out who knows where, but this helps me return to task, to consciously choose.

Click on the image to download your own printable PDF version.