Keeping Organized in Life and at Work

A cluttered workspace is no place to work at all.

This past weekend,  I really wanted to get some spring cleaning done in my apartment, but unfortunately I spent most of my time in bed, sick. I had a little bit of time on Sunday straightening up, but more time outside enjoying the beautiful weather and doing laundry.  So my room is still a bit of a mess, with two gutted computers and a pair of CRT monitors littering the floor, along with dozens of random parts and a few plastic bags with old hard drives, heatsinks, cables, and screws lying about like so many monuments to aged technology. I really need to get around to bringing those to the basement though; I miss my green carpet.

I like to think I am a neat person at heart, though, and so it bothers me to work around such clutter. I have my own system of organization, which to some may seem like it is still pretty cluttered, but it gets the job done and it generally opens space up in the area I am actually living. Basically my philosophy amounts to “out of sight, out of mind,” and so if it can get stored in a basement, closet, or on a shelf, it’s fine. But if the minute piles of clothes, computer parts, or games start accumulating on the floor, it gets to me. So I try to keep those things, at least, squared away. Well, there’s always next weekend.

At work, I’m much more organized with my animation. All my files are clearly labeled, and as a general rule I try and include my initials and the date on every Flash file I work on, since there’s always the chance that they’ll be passed on to another animator at some point or another as workloads increase. I try to label my code, as well, to prevent confusion and to give myself a reference point should I need to go back and work on any of the ActionScript way down the road. And in 3D modeling and animation (especially when using Lightwave,) it is of utmost importance to keep all 3D model assets, animation files, textures, and renders neatly and clearly labeled, to prevent confusion not only by myself and other animators, but by the program itself. Lightwave uses file and layer names to reference which models the animator is currently working on, so if you don’t clearly label it, you may load up medicalModel.lwo just to learn with horror that it’s been replaced by an old medicalModel.lwo from last year. Much better to call it medicalModel_4-20-09_RD_v001.lwo, so that now no matter what you have a unique name  for your file and it easily orders in a Windows Explorer list when sorted by name.

So there you have it. Whether in everyday life or when creating a professional Flash or 3D medical or corporate animation, it really does pay to be organized!