You’re going to laugh or roll your eyes. That’s OK, I expect it. Most of my peers have already figured this out, some people are brand new to the program and others (like myself) are short of the halfway point. Anyway, I just had a minor “ah-ha” moment. Thankfully, I managed to arrive at this point now, rather than a year from now. Frankly, this is an area that isn’t exactly taught, as it is more or less expected for us to “figure it out.” Well, I just “figured it out.”
While reviewing our unit content examples, I had a realization (or reflection) about time management when creating a process book. For the past two quarters, I had been evolving the design layout of my process books to serve more like an actual publication layout. With regard to the design of a process book, I entered our program with zero experience of having created one before. Therefore, my approach with designing a process book derived from my tendency to design a project: format, size, color, type, grid and aesthetic style were top priority. In essence, I realized that I have been spending way too much time on the design of the process book. Yes, this is a brain dead, obvious “ah ha” moment, but one of significant proportion.
I tend to overthink. Overthinking has often led to overlooking the obvious. However, overthinking is beneficial when experiencing and documenting a process. Rather than spending too much time formatting the design of the process book, I realized that I could be gaining much more insight into the process itself. Granted, I feel as if I have done this once before to a great extent. However, I’m not doing this on a consistent basis and it’s time to take the process to another level. After all, the process book is about the process!
What I realized is that I’m not documenting every step of the process. This had been addressed in one of the very first courses that I took, but with a rather vague emphasis. At the time, there wasn’t an exact reason as to “why” we should be investigating the process. Instead, the emphasis was “the process book is all about compiling as much information as possible.” One example of what I had considered an insignificant step in the process, is actually one of the most significant steps for myself: distractions.
Distractions can lead to other distractions, yet at some point, my mind stops and refocuses on the goal. Formally, this is known as synetics. My distraction in this case had been dedicating too much time on the design of the process book, although I never saw it this way until now. Allow me to explain a specific example of how this occurs and then compare it with what could be occurring instead:
Let’s say that I begin a concept map. Eventually, I need break or go to the bathroom. Sometimes I check email, doodle, pet my cats and (rarely) take time for a bike ride. I then revisit the concept map, but this is when “unnecessary” distractions occur, if is such a thing. Eventually, I return to the (pre-designed) process book, design the next section of the process book, scan or photograph the concept map, write, edit and revise my content, rearrange text blocks, change colors or supporting elements, reorganize my style sheets, shift pages around, establish a works cited section, change the leading here and there and finally export as a PDF.
Create a ultra-minimalist layout for all process books. It’s a balance of choosing strong, functional type, a versatile grid and one or two colors and not changing a damn thing. In doing so, I can now spend more quality time exploring the concept map and documenting the “unnecessary” distractions to include as a part of my process.
While I don’t feel that my design methodology lacks depth, the documentation process of conveying “a process” definitely does. I need to start capturing those insignificant moments by having better awareness at the time that it arises. Even if the moment leads nowhere toward the process, it provides very substantial documentation that I can reflect back on once the project is complete. For me, this is the best way to understand my own process and determine which areas need further expanding upon.