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Creativity in 10 is a recurring series sharing ideas for how you can practice your creativity in ten minutes or less a day. Up today – Practice Visual Thinking

Creativity in 10: Practice Visual Thinking

Creativity in 10 is a recurring series sharing ideas for how you can practice your creativity in ten minutes or less a day. Up today – Practicing Visual Thinking.

Creativity in 10 is a recurring series sharing ideas for how you can practice your creativity in ten minutes or less a day. Up today – Practice Visual Thinking

Here’s the story.

When it comes to visual thinking, many people immediately get hung up on the idea that it is drawing – it’s not. Well…it might be a tiny bit, but the emphasis is on communicating your ideas, not drawing. You might just have to draw some very basic creations in order to communicate your ideas.

Trust me, I wouldn’t use visual thinking so much if the emphasis was on drawing.

What is Visual Thinking Anyway?

Visual thinking is using pictures (visuals) to process what you are thinking/learning and to communicate that information.  — there are a lot more complicated definitions of visual thinking out there, but I like this one because it gets straight to the point.

You use visuals to communicate ideas.

Why Use Visual Thinking?

It can benefit both you and others.

Number 1

If you are taking notes from a book or a speech, when you practice visual thinking you are not simply copying down word for word what the author or speaker says, rather you are interpreting their words into your own visuals. As a result, you are more likely to remember and understand the information because you are actively engaging with it rather than just passively copying it down.

Number 2

If you are trying to communicate an idea with someone else, sometimes words are not enough.  Visuals can provide more clarity to what you are trying to share than just words can. Visuals + words = even better.  (As a middle school teacher, I see this notion proven on a daily basis.)

Visual thinking can be used :

  • to brainstorm ideas
  • to communicate your ideas
  • to problem solve
  • to tell a story
  • For a coach to demonstrate how a play would work
  • To take notes
  • To learn

Visual thinking is awesome because anyone can do it; you most definitely do not need to be an artist. Anything can be made clearer with a picture – this is why we look at maps, why we have illustrated how to directions, etc. Visual thinking applies to everything.

What do we do when we are trying to explain something when words don’t seem to be working? We draw it.

Getting Started With Visual Thinking

3 Steps to visual thinking:

  1. Identify
  2. Imagine
  3. Illustrate

Identify – identify your problem or what you want to do. For example: I want to figure out how to make this table. Or, I want to create an Elmo-themed party for a 2 year old.

Imagine – Imagine the possibilities, generate ideas, and brainstorm solutions.

Illustrate – Put pencil to paper, stylus to tablet, marker to – you get the idea. Just start.

So what if you think you can’t draw. I know you can do this. Visual thinking is not about drawing intricate works of art, it is about expressing your ideas in a way that is easier to communicate with others. If you want to sketch something and you don’t know how, Google “__________________ (insert whatever it is you want to draw here) icon.” After hitting enter, click on Images. You will get something that is much easier to sketch and that anyone can replicate. I do this weekly, maybe even daily :). You just have to start somewhere – even if that somewhere is not very good.

Then, you make it better.

Here’s a couple of ideas for getting started with visual thinking in less than 10 minutes. Choose any of these ideas, identify your problem, imagine it, and then start illustrating it.

Ideas for getting started. Choose one.

    • Recipe
    • A Ted Talk – there are many let are less than 6 minutes
    • Your To-Do list
    • An episode of your favorite podcast
    • Episode of a tv show
    • Sportcenter’s Top Ten List
    • Your Own Top Ten List
    • Places You Want to Travel
    • Your Grocery List
    • A Trip You Have Previously Taken

Creativity in 10 is a recurring series sharing ideas for how you can practice your creativity in ten minutes or less a day. Up today – Practice Visual Thinking

Illustrate Your Ideas: 3 Tips for Getting Started With Visual Thinking. Click to learn the 3 tips and download your 30 day challenge worksheet now.

Illustrate Your Ideas: Part 2 – At Work

Illustrate Your Ideas: Part Two - At Work. Use Visual Thinking to jump start practicing your creativity at work - at any job.

Happy New Year!

Big news! I have a new course launching soon about exercising your creativity in ALL aspects of your life. More details coming next week!

Over the past two months, I have been thinking about creativity beyond our normal notions of what it means to be creative or to live a creative life. As I mentioned in this post, I am doing you a disservice if we don’t acknowledge that your creativity is not just about your personal life. You spend so much of your life at your job, therefore it is crucial to practice your creativity at work as well.

It can be difficult to figure out where to begin with practicing your creativity at work, especially if your personal brand of creativity tends to show itself in carpentry or singing and you are an accountant. There doesn’t appear to be a strong connection there, but stick with me – I promise you will find some crossover!

Today, I am sharing one easy way anyone can exercise their personal creativity at work: visual thinking.

If you do not know anything about visual thinking, start with this article I wrote a few months back as your introduction. When you have finished it, come back here and complete Part 2.

Illustrate Your Ideas Part 2

Once you have a grasp of how visual thinking works, try using it in simple ways throughout your day to get more practice.

Your challenge is to illustrate your ideas using visual thinking one time in your personal life this week AND one time in your work life.

When trying something new for the first time, be sure to keep it simple and easy. You can always put your skills to the test later as you get more comfortable with visual thinking. For now, keep it simple.

How I used visual thinking to illustrate my ideas this week:

Personal Life:

Illustrate Your Ideas: Part Two - at Work. Use visual thinking to practice your creativity at work.

 

You can see that this was a just a quick sketch. I am making some felt letters for my kids and I did a quick brainstorm on a notecard. I was trying to decide betweens types of “A”s and also if I should use my sewing machine or hand stitch the letters. By sketching it out, I was better able to visualize what was going on in my head.

Work Life: 

Illustrate Your Ideas: Part Two - at Work. Use visual thinking to practice your creativity at work.

 

I used visual thinking this week at work to brainstorm what my 7th graders are going to be learning each day.  Practicing visual thinking can be intimidating if you have not tried it yet, but don’t let that stop you. Take a closer look at my work example. There really are not any drawings on there except the triple venn diagram. Despite the lack of obvious visuals, organizing the information in this way allowed me to better “see” all of the thoughts going on in my head.

Every job is different so there is no one list of ways to use visual thinking at work that I can give you, however here are a few basic ways you can use it:

  • to do lists
  • sharing your ideas
  • providing feedback
  • problem solve by mapping it out on paper
  • brainstorm ideas

As you become more and more comfortable with illustrate your ideas by using visual thinking, look for ways to incorporate into your work day. I’ll bet there are more ways than you think.

Illustrate Your Ideas: 3 Tips for Getting Started With Visual Thinking. Click to learn the 3 tips and download your 30 day challenge worksheet now.

Illustrate Your Ideas: 3 Tips for Getting Started With Visual Thinking

 


Illustrate Your Ideas: 3 Tips for Getting Started With Visual Thinking. I have always had a love/hate relationship with drawing. I love looking at amazing drawings, illustrations, sketches, etc., but hate that I am so bad at it. Truthfully, the main reason I am so bad at drawing is because I have never done anything about it. Every so often though, something happens that circles me back to the idea that I want to be good at drawing, and once again I do not do anything about it. This cycle continued for a long time (way too long) before I came to the realization that it is not really drawing that I keep coming back to. It is sketching. It is doodling. It is visualizing my thinking. It is illustrating my ideas.

Over the past few years, I have seen the idea of visual thinking blow up.  It seems to me that it is everywhere and I am totally in love with it. When I first saw it, my immediate reaction was once again, “I won’t be able to do that because I can’t draw for the life of me.” However, visual thinking is not drawing.

**One point: I know I could totally learn how to draw if I would just try it and practice, but I can never seem to force myself to, so I must not really want to that bad.

Visual thinking is using pictures (visuals) to process what you are thinking/learning and to communicate that information.

visual thinking can benefit both you and others

For example, if you are taking notes from a book or a speech, when you practice visual thinking you are not simply copying down word for word what the author or speaker says, rather you are interpreting their words into your own visuals. As a result, you are more likely to remember and understand the information because you are actively engaging with it rather than just passively copying it down.

Or, if you are trying to communicate an idea with someone else, sometimes words are not enough.  Visuals can provide more clarity to what you are trying to share than just words can. Visuals + words = even better.  (As a middle school teacher, I see this notion proven on a daily basis.)

Visual thinking can be used to brainstorm, to communicate your ideas, to problem solve, to tell a story, etc. Visual thinking is awesome because anyone can do it; you most definitely do not need to be an artist. Here are three tips to help you get starting illustrating your ideas by using visual thinking.

Illustrate Your Ideas: 3 Tips for Getting Started With Visual Thinking. Click to learn the 3 tips and download your 30 day challenge worksheet now.

 

#1 Get over yourself

So what if you think you can’t draw. I know you can do this. Visual thinking is not about drawing intricate works of art, it is about expressing your ideas in a way that is easier to communicate with others. If you want to sketch something and you don’t know how, Google “__________________ (insert whatever it is you want to draw here) icon.” You will get something that is much easier to sketch and that anyone can replicate. I do this weekly, maybe even daily :). You just have to start somewhere – even if that somewhere is not very good.

#2 Find some Inspiration

One awesome part of being interested in something that is so popular right now is that inspiration is everywhere! Google (or go on Pinterest and search) “sketchnotes” or “visual thinking.” There is an endless amount of inspiration to be found. You will see some amazing pieces that can be considered works of art and some that are just decent in terms of execution, however what they all have in common is that each of them does a better job communicating ideas than words alone would.

The following books have been extremely helpful on my visual thinking journey. It is not necessary to read all of them. Choose the one that appears the most interesting to you!

#3 Practice, Practice Practice!

You can’t just want to get better at visual thinking you have to actually put in the practice (bummer, I know). But, you don’t have to dedicate your life to this. Try to illustrate an idea you have once a day. It could be as easy as drawing/sketching one thing on your to do list.

In order to help you get started illustrating your ideas, I created a 30 day challenge for you. It is a super simple way to get better at illustrating your ideas over the next 30 days. Most days, the challenge will take you less than a minute – can’t get much easier than that. Interspersed throughout the month are 4 challenges that will take you a little longer, but will totally be worth it! Click here to get your worksheet now! (Also, make sure you look at the bottom of the the worksheet for a chance to win my course, Design Your Creative Path).

I can’t wait to see what ideas you come up with!