My dad used to frustrate me with his approach to project planning. Let’s say he was going to build a deck. He’d decide how big the deck would be, and its shape. Then he’d go down to the building supply store and load up all the materials he’d need. He was usually pretty darn close to having exactly what was necessary to do the job.
Dad didn’t seem to be following a plan. Like an author without a outline, he’d start the job and finish it, all without referring to anything.
In contrast, I have a friend would couldn’t do anything with sketching it out in fine detail first. If he was going to put a new handle on an ax, he’d draw out the process first. No kidding. The guy grew up to be a successful engineer, so I guess the attention to detail served him well.
As a kid, I though dad did some sort of magic. It wasn’t, of course. Dad did have a plan, but it was all in his head. Let’s take the deck example. He knows what sort of materials are needed for a safe deck. Then he’d figure out in his head how many of each item required to build the deck of a certain size. His method was a combination of experience and mental math.
Now if he was doing a sizable job, he would jot down a few things -maybe enough to fill a 3X5 note card. Not bad, considering that would cover everything from foundation to roof, including, heat, plumbing, and electrical.
My method? I explain the project to my wife. By the time I have enough sketches and materials lists so she understands the job, I can then build the project.