Make organizing easier: create a sketchnote map

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A head’s up: even if you see the word “sketch” and say “Crap, I can’t draw! Time to bounce – ” hold tight! Sketchnotes as as popularized by designer and author Mike Rohde emphasize ideas over art.

Earlier this year, in my post “How To Organize A Garage Like Wes Anderson” I talked about how the concept of sketchnotes will help tremendously in the preparation of larger organization projects. Organizing is like a lot of things – there’s power in just starting, and yet taking the time upfront to do a quick sketch can provide some enormous benefits.

For example:

In March, my family and I moved into a new space and one of the signifigant upgrades was a larger kitchen with brand spanking new Ikea cabinets that offered a lot of space and functionality.

Now, I’ve also come clean about how sometimes it’s the “cobbler’s son has no shoes” around here. Such was the case with the kitchen. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t claimed, it wasn’t owned, it wasn’t BOS. Often I would hear my wife shout out in frustration, “There’s no flow in here!”

So yesterday I sat down and sketched out both sides of our galley-like kitchen.

 

Kitchen sketchnote 1

 

Kitchen Sketchnote 2

At first you might look at these sketches and say, “Well, hell it doesn’t look so bad, come stay 2 hours in my kitchen” or “Your oven does look lopsided”, but here’s some of the immediate benefits examining these sketches gave me:

Quick recognition of repetition: I wrote Tupperware down for four different spaces. That’s immediate red flag to: clear out the excess Tupperware and consolidate it all into a single space.

Gives you placement perspective: my wife’s complaints of lack of flow could largely be attributed to items not being where you would expect them to be and/or as noted above, being in several different places. Creating a 30,000 foot view like this allows you to:

Play with possibilities: For example: I moved the pans to the area where that was being dominated by Tupperware. My map let me know I had a big EMPTY drawer that made more sense for the TW and then the pans could move to their former space with their fancy pull out racks. (Roll-out racks were being wasted on infrequently accessed TW! The horror!)

Solidify categories: I’ve said it before, but categories are the keys for any organizing project. And the great thing about them is that they already exist in the space, your job is to pull them together in a way that makes space. Creating a sketchnote map, can help you see them beforehand. I’ve already mentioned the Tupperware example, and another one for this project was helping me to see that we had two kinds of drink ware: glass and plastic (for the wee boys.) We had the space to put them in two different cabinets so why not make that clear distinction?

It took me about 20 minutes to sketch out both sides of the kitchen (you could do it even quicker, I added some friendly details, cause I knew I would be posting them on the interwebs and it’s fun) and as a result:

Gives you motivation and vision: you might think that drafting a sketch like this will overwhelm a project like this, but it’s usually the opposite. It made me see that it was doable and that I could probably knock it out in about 4 hours which is what I did. Even if it does reveal that it’s a larger project than you thought, it then gives you an opportunity to pick a frame or a page of the sketch and just start there.

So, if you’ve been stalling on an organization project try sketching out what’s there and then sketching what it could be, and see if you don’t reap some of the many benefits from above.

If you’re interested in learning more about sketchnotes check out Mike’s excellent books: The Sketchnote Handbook and it’s recent companion The Sketchnote Workbook. Sketchnotes can be a powerful and super fun tool and these books do a fantastic job of teaching and opening up their possibilities to you.

What about you, what organizing project are you thinking a sketchnote map could help?

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  • Dave Bruns

    Hey Deron – these are great. I love the idea of notes as ideas to get your started on a project. So often starting is the hardest part because you’re actually thinking about more than one thing at a time. The sketch makes you get real and also gets you started.

    • Hey Dave, glad you enjoyed it!

      Yes, I think you’re exactly right, overwhelm often comes as a result of “thinking about more than one thing at a time.”

      So hopefully what can be achieved by taking a quick sketch is putting all these things within the manageable confines of a single piece of paper. Similar to making a list, but more visual which I find can be helpful with organization! Everything in its place, can be an easier task when you have a simple map to see the whole space at once.

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