Daydreaming on Paper
January 2016
The Project Diary

We all have projects in our lives. From building robots to cooking dinner, we do and make stuff all day long. While at work, we often have to document various things about our projects and keep detailed notes about our processes, but I have found that many of us do not carry this habit over into our personal lives, which I think is a shame. For me, documentation is part of the fun of making stuff - it gives me yet another reason to play in my notebook! I like to be able to look through my notebooks not only to see what I did and how my skills have developed, but also to have a record of materials, sizes, and other details that would help me to recreate the project if I wanted to. So, whenever I finish a DIY project of any size, whether it is carving a rubber stamp or painting a cabinet, I try to take just a few minutes to make a quick diary page for it and jot down a few details.

Project documentation can be a creative undertaking in its own right. Think of it as a practical scrapbook page. Include all of the technical details, but make it visually appealing as well. Incorporate as many samples, swatches, paint dabs, and drawings as you can, arranging them so that they are both pleasing to the eye and easy to refer to later. You may want to leave some space to include additional notes, comments from other people, and more pictures after the finished product has been in use for awhile. In addition, consider jotting down a few words about:

  • Why you did this particular project
  • Inspiration for or influences on the project design or process
  • What you enjoyed about the process
  • What challenges or obstacles you dealt with
  • What new skills you learned because or as a result of this project
  • How much time, money, or other resources you spent on it
  • Sources of materials or information
  • Ideas to explore for future projects of this same type
  • What you would do again
  • What you would not do again
  • How you feel about the finished product or result

None of this has to take a lot of time to do. In fact, I often set a kitchen timer for 10 or 15 minutes and put a project diary page together as quickly as possible using whatever is in immediate reach. The most important thing is to simply do it. We live from moment to moment, and it can be really easy to forget how far we have progressed in a given skill when we are frustrated by whatever aspect of it we are tackling today. Whether you designate a specific notebook as a project diary or incorporate it into your regular journal, having a record of your accomplishments will be a valuable reference for personal growth and self-confidence.


Happy Scribbling!


Bonus Post for January

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