Sketch noting

I came across sketch noting about two years ago and thought that “this is interesting” I had always taken notes in my corporate career but never thought that there would be that level of artyness involved in them. Ok who hasn’t doodled in the margin, or on the minutes of the meeting(s) attended, or even on the back of an envelope. Even if it was concentric circles. In 2006 Michael Rohde came up with the idea to help him capture and remember key ideas. It has since been popularised in education to help students learn and retain information for their studies.

As a slight side note, I remember at school me and my friend Rob drawing complected doodles of football stadiums full of supporters. So I guess the idea of sketch noting was there very early on as the history teacher droned on about anything other than history. The point that it had no purpose was obviously over looked at the time. But I also did doodle in my school books as many decades later I came across those primitive efforts.

Some misconceptions grew up around sketch noting. That you had to be able to draw well. That you had to be creative in order to do it. That there was a structure to creating a sketch note. All of these are wrong and the basic concept is open to anyone. Even if you don’t know what to do with a pencil you can still create something that is relevant to you. 

Fast forward decades and now with the plethora of digital drawing tools available to the not so artistically inclined just opens up this new found niche of note taking. There is much research on this topic and it has been found to improve the performance in both memory and productivity. Although there are far more skilled people educating us on this. But I do think there is a distinct line that commerce takes on creativity, and that one can’t be take seriously if you doodle. It raises a smile when I think about Da Vinci sitting in a meeting about project progress and hearing someone droning on about KPIs. Imagining him drifting off and coming up with a world changing thing!

My uses

So what use does sketch noting have in my life and in general. Well it helps me organise my thoughts with an added layer of visual reminders or inspiration that you just don’t get on the written or typed page. I often start a review of coming week with a list of tasks and then I embellish it with some graphic icons or aide memories. I guess a lot has to do with the time available. But I certainly feel that if I make the effort to do it, it is more likely to become a reality than if I just have a bland list of tasks.

I also now use it on any project I am going to start. In fact I create a little booklet for it. Yes I know I can do it all on the computer and there are far more proficient ways of doing that, but I just like looking at the physical entity. But that maybe a whole other story and post for later. I don’t have that many things going on that need sketch noted Project Initiation Documents… arrgghh PTSD haha… but it is nice to look back on ones year in a physical form. I think all of this is partly down to the suppression of my artistic side of the brain for most of my working life.

Obviously I do virtually all my sketch noting on my iPad as this was the start of my journey into learning about sketch noting and in a wider context how to create any artistic effort. But I am slowly starting to build up a set of art tools that I can experiment with. Much as like I am trying to build a collection of good quality hand tools. Because the day the power goes of or the app stops working I can still create something.

Finding a niche for it

Like most things in life there needs to be a purpose for something for it to be either useful or decorative. I did think that adding a little sketch note to emails might be fun as most, if not all the time it is a pretty boring medium to communicate in. However with the addition of a splash of colour and putting a bit of thought in to them might be an interesting project.

Now that we don’t write letters as much it seems to me that the almost instant communication on digital conversations missed out it might be fun to inject a bit of humour, ones self into the mundaneness of the meeting. Hey even sending personal messages could be rich pickings for sketch noting ones thoughts and feelings. I probably should give this more though before spouting forth on it. I certainly think that it would brighten up a usually dull task, even just for a second

So whatever your niche is give it a try and see what you can come up with. I know I enjoy doing it!

Until the next time..

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