First, then Second...
We approach the season of directions. Directions for how to put something together, how to bake the soufflé so that it rises and doesn’t plummet to the pan bottom within seconds, how to find that illusive address, how to mingle in a crowd, how to make small talk.
How to solve the math problem: Able, Bob, Caroline, Daniel, Evangeline each ate two lemon meringue pies every other day for a week until Daniel switched to rhubarb pie for two weeks, Caroline was ill (no wonder) and couldn’t eat any pie for a week. Able, an intrepid person ate three pies one day. At the end of four weeks how many lemon meringue pies were consumed?
Remember the math teacher who said—just follow the road map. What do you do first? Then what do you do?
Writing clear concise directions, directions that neither confuses the reader nor result in hand wringing, yelping or resorting to a fetal position, demands a sense of compassion for the person reading those road maps.
My partner bought a new macro camera lens that came with a booklet with a few cryptic directions translated into a half a dozen languages. The terse statements assumed that the reader knew where things were positioned on the lens. We looked over the wording and I could almost feel someone over my shoulder saying—some things are better left unsaid.
Use the manual focusing for photos in the 1—1 range. That’s clear, but what wasn’t clear was how to arrive at this manual focusing. Ask Google—it seems that other people are asking the same question. After numerous attempts we drove to the camera shop where one of the salespeople admitted to a lack of knowledge.
With the help of two salespeople and a combined twenty or thirty years of experience the secret was unlocked.
Visualize all the boxes with directions—
I once put together a wood file cabinet. When finished three screws remained on the table. Two days later I noticed that the metal file holder in the top drawer wouldn’t stay upright. I used duct tape to fix the sagging file holder and threw away the screws.