My Two Big Projects For 2018 - Doug Neill, sketchnotes, verbal to visual

My Two Big Projects for 2018


I’m a little late to the party this year.

Even though it’s already the end of March, I still wanted to share with you an abbreviated annual review to let you know how 2017 went here at Verbal to Visual, and also to let you know what’s coming up for the rest of 2018.

Let’s get into it.

Part 1: A Look Back at 2017

In 2017 I published 41 sketchnoted videos to YouTube and Facebook and created 1 new course called Sketchnoting in the Classroom, a resource kit for educators which contains 28 video lessons and all sorts of follow-up activities.

On top of that I also began making videos for Wayfinding Academy, a new two-year college in Portland Oregon started by some friends of mine. I made 24 videos for Wayfinding, mostly in the style of short-form informal documentary.

So all told, that’s 93 videos in a year!

That’s a record. Let’s see if I can break it in 2018.

The Three Buckets

Before I jump into my plans for 2018, I want to reflect on an idea that I revisit every year, an idea from Jonathan Fields who runs Good Life Project.

Fields describes three life buckets – contribution (the ways in which you’re working to make the world a better place); connection (the ways in which you’re connecting with other people); and vitality (the ways in which you’re taking care of your own physical, mental, and emotional well-being).

The key thing about this framework is that no bucket can be any fuller than the least filled bucket. So you can’t neglect any of the three, because that neglect will cause a negative impact on the other two, no matter how much you try to fill those other two.

When looking at any given year as a whole, I have yet to do a good job of putting fairly equal amounts of time and energy into each bucket. In the past it has often been the connection bucket that has been lacking as I’ve focused on my own work and my own health.

In 2017, though, I spent a lot of time filling that connection bucket, largely due to my work at Wayfinding Academy – first just working in that environment (that’s where I was renting office space), then connecting with a student there (Austin) who I collaborated with throughout the year on a variety of Verbal to Visual projects, and finally when I began working with Wayfinding part time last August as a documentarian.

On the whole, though, I created a problem for myself as 2017 went on. I attempted to overflow the contribution and connection buckets, and regularly neglected the vitality bucket. I made too many commitments, tried to do too much in any given day, and didn’t give myself the time and space that I needed to properly take of myself.

Over time that neglect caused some major leakage in the connection and contribution buckets, which is not a good situation to be in.

Part 2: Looking Ahead to 2018

And so, as we look now at 2018 and my plans for the rest of the year, I’ve had to make some hard choices.

Sadly, I’m pulling back on my direct involvement at Wayfinding Academy. When it came down to it, trying to grow Verbal to Visual (a relatively new online education business) and trying to help grow Wayfinding Academy (a brand new college) was too much. And while I very much believe in what Wayfinding is doing, it became too difficult to be as involved there as I was trying to be and keep things going here at Verbal to Visual and take care of myself.

So it’s time to bring a bit more focus back into my life, focus on growing one thing – Verbal to Visual. (I find it kind of ironic that that’s exactly what I said at the start of 2017, and somehow forgot it…oh well, sometimes you’ve got to learn the same lesson multiple times before it sticks.) With that said, you’ll probably still hear me talking about Wayfinding Academy – they’re continuing to grow and I plan to follow their journey.

Two Big Projects

As I slowly shift my full attention back to Verbal to Visual, there are two big projects that I’m taking on in 2018.

One is called Learn a New Language with Sketchnotes, a new course that I’m developing that focuses specifically on how you can use the tools of visual note-taking to help you learn a new language. I just put out a video that describes that course in more depth, so check that one out if you’re interested:


The second big project for 2018 is one that I wasn’t expecting, and it’s origin story is pretty cool.

A few months ago I was sharing my idea for the course Learn a New Language with Sketchnotes with the members of The Verbal to Visual Community during one of our weekly webinars. After I shared my plans to build that course in 2018, a few community members were like “That’s cool, I’ve been wanting to do something similar – use my sketchnoting skills to build a course around a topic that I care about.”

So an idea was born – why not build courses alongside each other, each of us working on our own and supporting each other in the development of theirs. And, since I’ve gone through this process a handful of times now, I can provide a bit of structure and instruction each week, sharing lessons that I’ve learned from the four courses that I’ve developed.

And since there are likely other sketchnote enthusiasts around the globe that also want to build their own online courses using their sketchnoting skills, why not turn that weekly instruction into its own course. That’s what lead to big project number two of 2018: Build an Online Course with Sketchnotes. That project also has it’s own video, which you should check out if you’re intrigued:


Keep Up The Good Work

As excited as I am about the development of those two big projects, I’m equally excited to continue making videos like the one above – videos that I put out into the world for free, sometimes a behind the scenes of a project that I’m working on, sometimes a mini-lesson to help you take your sketchnoting skills just a bit further.

So that’s the work that lies in front of me – two big projects to plug away on, and lots of videos like these to help keep the momentum going week to week. I look forward to sharing with you all of that work as it unfolds.

I also look forward to seeing the work that you create this year. As Verbal to Visual has slowly grown over the last few years, more and more folks like you have reached out on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook, and via email to share your sketchnotes and the impact that sketchnoting is having on your life and those in your care.

So thank you for sharing that with me, keep up the good work, and cheers to 2018!

I think it’s gonna be a great year.

-Doug

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

If you’d like to use your sketchnoting skills to make engaging videos, we’ve got a course for that too! Check out How To Make Sketchnote Videos.

And if you want to create new personal and professional opportunities by sharing the authentic journey of your skill development online, check out Learn In Public.