So... if you’ve been reading the past few posts, you’ve been following the story of the Efficient Musician Practice Planner. From what made me create the Practice Planner, to how exactly to use it, it seems like we covered it all.
All but... ITS EVOLUTION.
No doubt about it, the Practice Planner took a LOT of prior planning, and many different design variations. By sharing them, I hope to inspire you to take the leap into whatever it is you might be thinking of starting. And just remember - we all start somewhere (and usually that somewhere isn’t particularly glamorous...).
For me, it all started with an idea. I had always been obsessed with planners, agendas, and organizing my time. Always looking for systems and ways to optimize my time with anything I did (even though I mostly procrastinated all of it 😂), I decided one year ago that enough was enough when it came to the current selection of practice planners.
After years of struggling to find a format that checked all my boxes, I got the crazy idea to create my own.
A daunting task, I set out to conquer it by doodling away and making lists of practicing aspects I would normally keep track of. These included the time I spent at the piano, what I needed to focus on, my to-do list of the week, and progress tracker. I scoured the internet for planner inspiration (mostly from the usual yearly planners/agendas), making sure I didn’t miss any potential gold nuggets, adding only the best into the potential list of elements to be added to the planner.
My first drafts looked something like the following:
(At this stage, my doodles are barely reminiscent of the Efficient Musician Practice Planner today.)
I spent several weeks in this stage, researching, adding, refining - making sure that I had everything I needed before I could start testing the planner. From all the business podcasts I had listened to, I had internalized one thing - testing is always at the heart of creating a great product. And while I didn’t quite want to announce my secret project to the world yet (at least, not to all my followers... sorry guys 🥴), I wanted the Efficient Musician Practice Planner to go through all the natural stages of product development.
Once I finalized (as much as possible) my initial design, I hired a graphic designer to help me turn it into an actual planner. I didn’t know the colour schemes of my website or product yet, much less the general vibe, but that wasn’t important. I needed to first try it out and see if I would need to change anything.
And boy, did I ever...
It was a really humbling experience to start using the fetus planner, only to discover that I didn’t use half the pages, was overwhelmed by others, and too lazy to fill out the rest. I quickly understood that it was one thing to make a planner pretty, but it was an entirely different matter to make it actually usable (not to mention helpful).
(As you can see in the image above, the current design of the planner is coming to fruition, as the complicated Goals and Technique sections come together as a simple To-do List.)
After this first testing stage, I felt like I was ready to move onto showing the planner out into the world (that is, to my students). Believe it or not, I was actually feeling quite confident in its layout at this point, and didn’t think there would be much to change after having gone through so much already.
Ah.... I had so much to learn... 🥺
To put it mildly, after several weeks of scathing reviews from my students, criticizing each little aspect of the planner (to be fair, this is what I had signed up for, but being criticized at all, much less by small children never does get any easier)... I came to my final copy.
Keep in mind, between each revision, I took several weeks to collect and analyse the data, decide which improvements to apply the new planner, send them to the graphic designer, and come out with a new version. This was no easy task.
Unfortunately, again, many of the pages I spent so long designing never even came in handy, much less received criticism. You can see in the following images where I had revised entire pages, only to cross them out completely from the planner.
All that work culminated in the creation of my beloved Efficient Musician Practice Planner - the first practice planner (of course I would say this) with the perfect balance between creative freedom and encouragement.
Throughout this entire process, the true takeaway is that less is more. The less you tamper with the natural creative process and the more resources you have to guide it, the better. Music practice is so personal that it truly is a challenge to strike that balance.
The Practice Planner, which you can check out on this website, is the product of many, many months of work, many revisions and corrections. When you click on the description, you will see all of the pages inside (I don’t believe in selling you a cat in a bag). Don’t hesitate to look around, check out the pages and see if it strikes a chord with you 😊.