Processing The Process Book
Go ahead, roll your eyes. That’s OK. I expect it. Most of my peers have already figured this out, some people are brand new to it and others (like myself) are short of the halfway point within our graduate program. Anyway, I just had a minor “ah-ha” moment. Thankfully, I managed to arrive at this point now, rather than a month or a year from now. Frankly, this is an area that isn’t exactly encouraged, taught or implied, as it is more or less expected for us to “figure it out.” Well, I just “figured it out.”
While reviewing research and peer examples, I had a realization (or reflection) about time management when creating a process book. I’ve been evolving the design layout of my process books to serve more like an actual publication layout. 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 too much time on the design of the process book. Well, I tend to over-think, which has often led to overlooking the obvious. However, over-thinking is beneficial when documenting every little detail within a very broad process. Rather than spending time designing the process book, I realized that I could be expanding upon 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. It’s time to take advantage of minimalism!
What I realized is that I’m not documenting every step of the process and instead leaving out “mental notes.” Thorough documentation had been addressed in one of the very first courses, 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 about compiling as much information as possible.” Therefore, it really depends on how you interpret what “information” is.
One example of what I had considered an insignificant step of documenting, 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 a break or need to go to the bathroom. Sometimes I check email, doodle, pet my cats or take time for a quick bike ride. When I return, I revisit the concept map, but this is when “unnecessary” distractions occur. Eventually, I return to the previously designed process book and begin designing the next section. I then 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. In short: too much time is spent on appearance.
Create an 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 may begin to include handwritten notes as subtle artifacts within the book, that could likely create a similar distractions. However, I do believe that a process book should graphically convey a sense of personal interaction.
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. This is a new mindset. Even if the moment leads nowhere toward the process, the moment provides very substantial documentation that I can reflect upon, 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.