My Illustrated Annual Review - Part 2: Looking Forward To 2016 - Doug Neill, Verbal To VIsual

My Illustrated Annual Review – Part 2: Looking Forward To 2016

Welcome to 2016!

As a follow-up to my visual look back at 2015, here are my plans for the upcoming year, in sketchnote form.

The Big Picture


2015 was all about Verbal To Visual.

I spent my time growing this video and blog series, as well as building these actionable resources.

I will continue building here at Verbal To Visual, but I’m also excited to use my visual thinking skills in three additional ways in 2016.

This year I’ll return to The Graphic Recorder to get back to regularly sketchnoting the ideas of others.

At Learn In Public I’ll be using sketchnoting as an instructional tool to help students, artists, and entrepreneurs share their skill development online as a means to better work, a better career, and a better life.

And soon I’ll be jumping into the study and making of music (site forthcoming).

So as not to be overwhelmed by too many projects, I will hold on to this uniting factor:

Using visual thinking tools to reach my full creative and professional potential.

That is a goal that I hope to help you achieve as well this year.

The Daily Routine


With that big-picture plan for 2016 in place, here’s how I’ll be spending my days executing on that plan:

In past years I’ve made strict schedules around how I spend specific hours. This year I’m experimenting with something more flexible: analog mornings and digital afternoons.

The quickest way for me to get off track at the start of the day is to hop on the computer, which is why I’m leaving that until the afternoon.

When I start my day with pen and paper, sketching and writing as I make progress on my own projects as well as freelance work, the rest of the day seems to fall in place much more smoothly.

I also want to revive the two mindfulness habits that fell away the second half of 2015: morning pages and meditation. Those two habits are the most important in maintaining my long-term mental health and my ability to continue with this at-times emotionally heavy creative work.

In the P.M. I’ll focus more on digital work – the digitizing and fine-tuning of illustrations, the editing of videos, and the answering of emails.

I’d like to do as much of that digital work as possible from outside of my home office to add a bit of variety and energy to my days, as well as providing the buffer of a walk from one place to the next.

To merge the daily work with my year-long plan, we turn next to a weekly publishing schedule.

Weekly Publishing Schedule


To ensure that I’m making progress on those four projects that I’m focusing on this year, I plan to publish one thing a week for each project, with a workshop webinar on Friday to end the week on a high note.

On Monday, I’ll make a sketchnoted video like the one above for Verbal To Visual.

On Tuesdays I’ll do the same for Learn In Public.

On Wednesdays I’ll sketchnote a talk, book, or article, and share it at The Graphic Recorder.

On Thursdays I’ll make something related to an upcoming music project (I’m not yet sure exactly what that will be.)

On Fridays I’ll connect with the community within The Verbal To Visual Classroom for a webinar workshop.

That sounds like a good week to me!

But it also sounds energy-intensive, which is why I plan to continue taking small-scale sabbaticals every seven weeks, a habit I started last year thanks to Sean McCabe.

For the first two months of 2016, I’m also experimenting with daily vlogging as an accountability tool that also helps build up my creative muscles.

I’m liking this layered approach to planning a year: a big-picture view of what you’ll be working on this year, a weekly publishing schedule to ensure progress on each of those projects, and a daily plan that fits your personality and the work you do.

Now it’s your turn. What will your 2016 look like?


Want To Dig Deeper?

If you’re new to the idea of sketchnoting and excited to develop more visual thinking tools, I think you’d enjoy our foundational course An Introduction To Visual Note-Taking.

If you’d like to make sketchnoted videos like the one you saw here, we’ve got a course for that too! Check out How To Make Sketchnote Videos.

And if you’re an educator interested in bringing visual note-taking into your classroom, check out Sketchnoting In The Classroom.