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Thread: What do you write down?

  1. #1

    What do you write down?

    My FaceBook page has recently been filled with ads for planners, sketchbooks, and other blank books. I donít know why I would be targeted but it made me consider what I write down. One of them, the Monkís Planner, described the advantages of living a better life by focusing on doing the important things. The planner has sections for a lot uplifting things one is supposed to benefit from writing down. I find such guided reflection a bunch of malarkey. On thing they did differently though that I think may be useful is to start each month with a double page for big goals, each week starts with a double page for more immediate goals, and each day a double page. If I used the Monkís Planner, I would probably waste a lot of paper. But, the weekly and monthly double pages are something that I may add to my current system using spiral notebooks. Anyway, I have thinking this morning about what I write down and if I could do better. I thought I would pose the question to the group regarding what you find useful to write down, on what, and what do you keep.

    My system involves three notebooks: a spiral notebook of lists, a spiral notebook of math, and a sketchbook. The book of lists consists of to-do lists and shopping lists. Sometimes it also has cutting lists and material estimates. These would probably be better kept in the math book but sometimes the lists book is the only paper I have with me. Every few months I make out a to-do list. It is an omnibus list of big and small items together. Things get added and scratched out until the page is too cluttered and then I start a new on the next clean page. The shopping list is a running list of things needed for the tasks at hand. The big box store is 30 minutes away. I try to get everything I need on each trip. A list really helps. The to-do list would probably benefit from categorizing tasks by size, the monthly list of big projects and subdividing the big one into smaller tasks for a week or a day.

    The math book is probably not something everyone would do. I contend putting together cutting lists and material estimates is math and is good organization. I started with a tabular format that I read in a woodworking book and have continued with it. I have some from long ago projects. The plans bring back lots of memories of what I built and how I built it. At my age, it is fun and helpful. The other things in the math book are engineering calculations that I find useful. With my experience and library, they are not hard. I have things like load and deflection of a bookshelf, flow and pressure drop it a dust collection system, or heat loss from a building which are probably not of interest to most. I also do mechanical modeling of a bicycle wheel and related problems. It is a hobby in itself. I think I do better work, waste less material, and understand what I am doing better because I do the math. Of course, your mileage may vary.

    The sketchbook is least used. I should draw more. On SMC, I have included pictures of sketches done for projects in most projects I post. It is was gets me through the thinking process of how to build something. Most of the time, the projects turn out very close to the initial sketch. I treasure the ones I still have.

    So, what do you log?

  2. #2
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    I still use the skills I was taught in the late 80's. Whether written down, typed in or tapped in the method is the same.
    - Brain dump
    - Prioritize
    - Schedule
    - Execute

    I am a firm believer in Ike's strategy "The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.". Essentially, emergent things are not part of your prioritized and scheduled tasks. Prioritized and scheduled tasks should never become urgent. No surprises and all that.
    I always forget . . . Is it the letter "S" or the letter "C" that is silent in the word scent?
    - Glenn (the second "N" is silent) Bradley

  3. #3
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    I have a notebooks/binders in the shop I use for equipment manuals and one I use for drawings. I have a hardbound notebook that I use for noting materials, methods and other things to refresh my more recently decreasing short term memory. I worked as a draftsman, do use sketch pads and sometimes I keep the drawings, sometimes I don't. I use Sketchup sometimes. Sometimes I break out one of my T-squares, and draw something manually.
    Ken

  4. #4
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    Every time we start a new major home project, I purchase a new notebook. Everything from ideas, lists, sketches into this book. Need to go to the lumber yard, take the book. Need to get plumbing supplies, take the book.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa Starr View Post
    Every time we start a new major home project, I purchase a new notebook. Everything from ideas, lists, sketches into this book. Need to go to the lumber yard, take the book. Need to get plumbing supplies, take the book.
    So your top organizational level is “the project”. Do you subdivide your project book in any way, e.g. a section for overall plan, section for framing or electrical, or do you go chronologically adding a page for each new phase or task?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by glenn bradley View Post
    I still use the skills I was taught in the late 80's. Whether written down, typed in or tapped in the method is the same.
    - Brain dump
    - Prioritize
    - Schedule
    - Execute

    I am a firm believer in Ike's strategy "The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.". Essentially, emergent things are not part of your prioritized and scheduled tasks. Prioritized and scheduled tasks should never become urgent. No surprises and all that.
    For me, your first step would be fairly short. For prioritizing, what I do is look at my big to-do list and pick the job I want to do next. Back when I worked for someone else it was different. On scheduling, I don’t do very much because I am terrible at it when I am doing the work myself and when it depends on a contractor, I am not in control. All I do is put tasks in a project in logical order and then deal with delays and problems as they occur. I can see your method tries to control and eliminate problems. That is an ideal work plan that I do not achieve. Most of my writing would be in your execution phase. I am thinking through and writing down the next few steps and keeping up lists of things as a memory aid.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fitzgerald View Post
    I have a notebooks/binders in the shop I use for equipment manuals and one I use for drawings. I have a hardbound notebook that I use for noting materials, methods and other things to refresh my more recently decreasing short term memory. I worked as a draftsman, do use sketch pads and sometimes I keep the drawings, sometimes I don't. I use Sketchup sometimes. Sometimes I break out one of my T-squares, and draw something manually.
    I bet your notebooks are pretty neat and orderly. It is something I aspire but fail to achieve.

  8. #8
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    Tom, The next page in the book gets whatever needs written down. Even though it is our son's home we're helping renovate, I did the same thing. At the beginning are notes on the things needing done prior to the closing. Then there is a list of tools to have with us the first weekend for demoing the three disgusting bedrooms in the basement. Following that are pages making notes on pricing various options for central heat and a water heater. After deciding on the system, it drills down through the various boiler options and has lists of fittings and other components for the install....

    We're actually on the second notebook now.

  9. #9
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    I constantly write things down. It's just the way I am.
    During my freshman year in college we were taught a class on how to take notes for college courses. 40+ years later and that was probably the most valuable course I ever took in college.
    For projects in the shop, everything starts with an Art pad. Multiple drawings are done, joints are detailed in actual size. Cut list are made up, but I seldom get them completely correct.
    The only "log" kept in the shop is on the shaper. I know the dimension pf every cutter I own and have detailed notes on them. Using a height gauge I can set a shaper to within thousandths of my desired setting before the first test cut is performed. All the joints I've ever made on a shaper are also detailed. I can reset a set of cutters to almost exactly the same profile and height I made years ago.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  10. #10
    Mike,
    I don’t have a shaper but the same principle applies to a router table. I shall buy another slim spiral notebook for router table notes. Good idea.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Honestly, I only write quick notes that are often disposable after a task is done. When I was cleaning out my office in the old house over the past couple of weeks, I was amazed at how many unused notebooks, pads and other "writing" media was stuffed in drawers, most of while has only been used in recent times for keeping track of the massive amounts of donations that we've made to local charities.

    Even the quick notes are evolving for me. I'm using the Notepad app a lot more now as the same list/document is available to me across multiple devices and everything is updated regardless of which I'm using or where I am. I can type with my finger or use my voice. And I don't have to suffer my own variable handwriting, either, that way...
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Wilson View Post
    For me, your first step would be fairly short. For prioritizing, what I do is look at my big to-do list and pick the job I want to do next. Back when I worked for someone else it was different. On scheduling, I don’t do very much because I am terrible at it when I am doing the work myself and when it depends on a contractor, I am not in control. All I do is put tasks in a project in logical order and then deal with delays and problems as they occur. I can see your method tries to control and eliminate problems. That is an ideal work plan that I do not achieve. Most of my writing would be in your execution phase. I am thinking through and writing down the next few steps and keeping up lists of things as a memory aid.
    Oops, missed the mark . During the execution phase I jot all sorts of stuff down. I like Lisa's 'one notebook per project' idea but, nearly 40 years in I.T. makes me loath using all that physical space. I have note pads made up from recycled printouts . . . yes this is an influence due to growing up in the 60's / 70's . . . before we had good recycling there used to be reams of one-sided waste in the printer rooms . 20 years later I still haven't run out of them.

    I also have a clipboard in the shop. This holds SketchUp "detail dumps" of joinery, dimensional drawings, and a page with an overall view of the piece to remind me what I am working toward. One thing I find most valuable is Post-It notes in bright colors. When I hit the wall and quit for the day I will jot down what I was about to do next, sometimes along with the next few steps, and stick the note on the piece, tool, or whatever. It may just be my weak mind but, when I sip coffee and read the note(s) as I am settling in to start the day I find I shorten my ramp up time, decrease mistakes and keep my rhythm going.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 04-27-2021 at 9:50 AM.
    I always forget . . . Is it the letter "S" or the letter "C" that is silent in the word scent?
    - Glenn (the second "N" is silent) Bradley

  13. #13
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    At present I use Microsoft Project for planning.

    Notes are on my IPad as it's convenient to use in the shop.

    I'm in the search for a drawing program as I'll be transitioning to a Mac laptop from a Windows one........I've given up on paper, I have to store it and find it.........Rod.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by glenn bradley View Post
    ...I have note pads made up from recycled printouts . . . yes this is an influence due to growing up in the 60's / 70's . . . before we had good recycling there used to be reams of one-sided waste in the printer rooms . 20 years later I still haven't run out of them.
    Same generation and experience here but no scrap pads left


    I also have a clipboard in the shop. This holds SketchUp "detail dumps" of joinery, dimensional drawings, and a page with an overall view of the piece to remind me what I am working toward. One thing I find most valuable is Post-It notes in bright colors. When I hit the wall and quit for the day I will jot down what I was about to do next, sometimes along with the next few steps, and stick the note on the piece, tool, or whatever. It may just be my weak mind but, when I sip coffee and read the note(s) as I am settling in to start the day I find I shorten my ramp up time, decrease mistakes and keep my rhythm going.
    I used to outline big reports on my cubicle wall using 3x5 post itís. I would write the topic sentence of every idea I had to explain on a note. All of them wanted to come first. I had to shuffle them around to find a good flow. I should try your idea at the shop. I use a clipboard also, a relic from years ago. It holds sketches and loose paper.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Sheridan View Post
    At present I use Microsoft Project for planning.
    I had to be flogged into using Microsoft Project in my former career. My research projects with uncertain paths could only be ďplannedĒ in the loosest sense. Woodworking is different. Maybe a bit of planning disciple would keep me more focused on goals.


    Notes are on my IPad as it's convenient to use in the shop.
    I would probably crack the screen on the first day

    I'm in the search for a drawing program as I'll be transitioning to a Mac laptop from a Windows one........I've given up on paper, I have to store it and find it.........Rod.
    I use Sketchup on a Mac but it works better with three button mouse than an Apple Magic Mouse. I prefer paper sketches whenever I can. Things that have to be accurately scaled are better in Sketchup.

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