The ideas weren't flowing. I was struggling with what to offer in the map entry for the April playbook. I considered making a map of lighthouses in the state, places I had visited, or things I notice in the neighborhood on my morning walks. But none of it clicked.
Setting it all aside for a while gave me the distance and insight I needed.
I don't remember what I was doing, but the idea came to me when I was working on something else: Maine has a surprising number of map resources. Start there.
Rather than a map of a place, I'd make an information map ... of map resources in Maine.
Working small: thumbnail sketches and an eraser
And as I do with most ideas, I started with a thumbnail sketch.
In one of my first graphic design classes, I was taught to make thumbnail sketches. Small-scale drawings of an idea. It's a handy tool for visualizing posters and book covers. It works for professional projects and your hobbies, too. You can sketch and list what you need to get started. You could map out what you've done and where you want to go.
And it prompts new ideas.
My vision for the map is a hand-drawn poster. There's more information to add and I'm still working through the layout and how to connect it all. Dotted lines? Arrows?
I'll post the final version and you can compare the thumbnail with the finished piece.
Do use thumbnail sketches or some other tool to organize your thoughts and ideas?
More entries in This State of Mine. Have you seen them?
Clear the clutter, clear your mind.
So, I’ve got papers that need filing, drawers that need organizing, cabinets that are a jumble, and closets that ... well, you know.
January is Get Organized Month, and the biggest challenge I find getting and staying organized is setting aside the time. I tell myself I’m going to do it, and then I don’t. It’s frustrating and I'm disappointed with myself when I don’t do the things I tell myself I'll do.
But I’ve found a system that helps. A lot.
It’s the Pomodoro Method developed by Franceso Cirillo. It’s based on using blocks of time to get things done. Cirillo developed the method using a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato; pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato.
With the Pomodoro Method, you set the timer (usually for 25 minutes), take short break (just a few minutes), and set it again.
What I’ve found is that I’m still able to tackle big projects by grouping my work in multiple 25 minute blocks, using the short breaks in between to get smaller tasks done: file a few papers or organize just one drawer. It also keeps me moving and I'm not sitting for long stretches of time as I sometimes do.
I put the timer far enough away from my desk so I have to get up to shut it off.
At first I thought it would be too disruptive to stop every 25 minutes. In fact, I find the opposite to be true. Stepping away from my desk every 25 minutes helps me reorganize my thoughts, and with the short break I make progress in areas I wouldn’t have even considered while I was working on the project at hand.
I had a chicken timer for a while (couldn't find a tomato), but that busted, so now I use the timer on my phone.
Where did I learn about all this? At the library. The book, The Pomodoro Technique, was on display at the library. So I borrowed it. If you're not sure it will work for you, check and see if your library has a copy.
It's great for working, studying, and setting aside time for what's really important, time for your hobbies, passions, and pastimes.
What do you think. Is it tomato, tomahto, or something in between?