Friday, February 8, 2008

Design Notebooks - Merging Design and Organization

After hearing Matt's talk, I have started to give a lot more thought into how it is that I organize my life and free my head so that I have room to design.

It was interesting for me to look deeply at how I used my notebooks and how I organized my tasks.

I'll start with how I organize things.

I try to make list and cross things off my lists. These lists include post-its stuck to my desk or a page torn out of a notebook. I also use the tasks on Outlook which helps me to schedule my time and make sure I allot time for everything to get done. Having a paper list on my desk saves me from taking the time to turn on my computer, check my calendar, check facebook, check my e-mail and otherwise waste lots of time.

The organization of my school notebooks is a new thing for me. In ICB I had the mid-semester notebook change problem which is never good. I went to only putting notes in my notebooks and not homework. The problem with that is that sometimes your homework is better notes than your notes are. I struggled off and on with how to structure things and i came up with this solution:

I staple lab handouts and homework assignments on the back side of the pages. When I get a homework assignment or a lab back, I stick that in too. That way, all of my notes are on the front sides, and the completed, neat versions of my homework are on the back sides of the page. Occasionally I will do scratchwork on the problem set or lab handout. It the scratchwork doesn't quite fit on the page, I just cut out a tab and fold it in. This keeps everything neat and together. One problem I foresee with this system is the fattiness factor. These notebooks are going to be HUGE once the semester is over. I hope it will be worth the obnoxiously huge notebook to have everything together and organized.

The design notebook I carry is a residual from Design Nature and POE. There are lots of calculations and sketches in it. I think the key facet of my design notebook is that there are pages of order and pages of disorder and that doesn't really matter. If it is something important, or something I have to scan and submit for an assignment, I make it neat. If not, who cares. Like Matt said, I am writing this to my future self not to anyone else.

I think my favorite part of this notebook is the Baxtor Beaver costume sketches!

Well, I think that is all I have to say on the topic of notebooks both organization and design. I think the key lesson is to find a system that works for you and to stick with it. Carrying around a notebook and not writing anything in it is a waste. I try not to worry about keeping things neat when I know I will never really look at them again but I try to maintain general order when my future self will want some reference material. It may not be the best system but it works for me.

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