Remember those school projects where you were told to document everything you do? If you were like me, you heard it as “just scribble down something.” Not good!
I’ve recently started a project which I thought would work out nicely. I’ve done a similar project in the past and had good results, so I was happy to know that this time I wouldn’t have to start from zero. That I had the basics under control and would know exactly how to get started.
While the past project had worked, I only now realized I have little to none documentation for it. I can dig up some parts of it and I have my (not extremely reliable) memories, but the basics – the building blocks I thought would give me a boost on this project – were gone.
This was my inner monologue when I started:
How did the past project start? Err…
Well, how did you arrange the information in it? Umm…
Can you at least tell me what building blocks you used for it? Ehhh…
So, yeah. No documentation = no building blocks.
Obviously if you do something enough times, you’ll eventually remember it without papers. But I’ve only done this once. Like a year ago. After which I haven’t done anything remotely connected to it.
I’ve managed to gather bits and pieces of info which I’m confident will get me started, but it was so much more trouble than if everything had been ready on a document.
What am I saying then? Document! Write down the steps you take. Every step. Even if it seems stupid to add when it’s fresh in your memory, you’ll thank yourself later when more pressing matters have bumped it out of your brain. Use paper or the computer or your phone or any other device you see fit, just make sure it can be read (and understood) later on. If you use paper, store them in a folder so you don’t lose them.
And this works for every type of project. For example when you’re writing a book, it’s good to keep track of how the process goes. After a few books people usually find the methods that are the best for them, so it’s good to actually be aware of what you’ve done differently this time and why it worked.
Have you sometimes whished you would’ve documented something better? How do you document your work?