I’ve been intrigued the past few years by a relatively simple idea – the idea that the right constraints help you to do better work; that by putting appropriate boundaries around the work that you do, you’ll be better able to dig into that work and achieve the outcomes that you’re shooting for.
I’ve been looking for the right constraints for the work that I do exploring the subject of visual thinking and helping others develop their own visual note-taking skills.
Specifically, I’ve been looking for one thing that I can do every day to kickstart my creativity – something that I can make and put out into the world and use as a way to interact with others. I think I’ve found that thing in these note card sketches.
For me, the key is their simplicity. At their core is nothing more than a note card and pen. Add in a few other readily available pieces of equipment and you’ve got the setup that you see here, which is the setup that I use to make these videos.
I’ve decided to make one note card sketch every day, for a couple of reasons. The first is to push back against that internal resistance that we all feel at times that keeps us from doing creative work and leads to procrastination and the making of excuses for why we’re NOT making the thing we want to make and share. By committing to make and share this one thing every day I’m weakening that resistance so that it has less of an effect on the other work that I do throughout the day.
The second reason is to slowly build up a set of ideas that I can play around with in the future and use to make bigger things. I think about this habit of note card sketches as equal parts laboratory and playground. It’s a space for me to test out ideas and share them with others, but it’s also an opportunity to play around with the tools and the constraints that I’ve set up and see what comes from that play.
The output corresponding to this daily habit is the Verbal To Visual Video series that you see here. I’m sharing those single daily sketches as video shorts, and then once a week pulling multiple ideas together into a narrated episode like this one.
To follow along and see where this goes, sign up for my email newsletter to get a weekly update on videos like these and other visual thinking resources that I’m working on.
Then think about this question: Could you use a daily creative habit in your life? Think about something small that you could do each day, something that only takes five or ten minutes, and that might build up to something that’s meaningful to you. Try a few things out until you find one that fits. It took me about three years to stumble upon this one. I hope you find yours is less time than that.
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.