One Squiggly Line Blog

Hand-drawn pictures can make things clear, simple, and fun in blogs, too!

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Use something in a new way

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There's a myth out there that highly creative people just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Like a great big lightening bolt from the sky. Or a soft whisper from a mystical muse.
Truth is, creativity is not quite so passive. It is an active process. And there's a science to it, not just an art. There are even formulas, methods, and procedures for generating ideas and, equally importantly, evaluating them. One way to get a new idea or find a creative solution is to use something in a new way.

Sometimes, I take stacks of business cards with me, like if I'm working at a conference or event. Regular rubber bands seemed to rip several of the cards, which meant I had fewer to give out. So, I looked around and found something different to hold my business cards together — stretchy ribbon hair ties. Not only do they hold my business cards together, they look better, too!

When it comes to creativity, the best ideas can be inside the box, not outside of it. You just need to use them in a new way.

Visual Thinking: Visual Biography

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Abstract ideas can be fascinating, but our brains really prefer things to be concrete. That way, it's much easier for the brain to make sense of them. And remember them.
A great way to make your own short bio more memorable and engaging is to make it visual! Mine is above. As you can see, the key facts are worked into my logo. That helps folks remember a bit about me when they look at my logo, wherever it is.

A visual biography can be much more powerful than a paragraph or two listing your accomplishments. So if you need to give a quick bio for a speaking engagement or whatever, make it visual!

Check out One Squiggly Line's About Visual Thinking page to learn more.

Graphic Recording: Use those visuals after the event!

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Graphic recording happens live, in real-time and on a large scale right in front of everyone. That's part of what makes it so powerful, engaging, and memorable. But those images can be quite powerful, engaging, and memorable after the event, too. So how do you put them to good use? Shop.Org had a great idea, as shown above in this Twitter screenshot. 

Visual Thinking: Tracking Progress

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Setting goals is one thing. Reaching them is quite another!

You're much more likely to reach your goals when you track your progress. Doing that visually helps you see the big picture at a glance. It also keeps your goals in the front of your mind so you're less likely to forget about them.

That's what performance dashboards are for. They're like the dashboard in your car in the way you can see at a glance how things are going. But they're for tracking progress towards your goal, instead.

Here's a performance dashboard I created to help me track how often I stretch throughout the day. All I have to do is put a dot by the time of day when I stretched. At a glance, I can see if I've been remembering to stretch or not.

A performance dashboard like this is super simple, yet so much more specific than just saying, "I need to be sure to stretch throughout the day."

Graphic Recording: Get 'em Engaged, Keep 'em Engaged

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Here's a picture from one of my kindergarten classes when I was an art teacher. The dozen or so kids visible are working on a great big thank you banner for the fire station they just visited. (I drew it and they colored, following guidelines from our lesson in color theory.) As you can see, they're all engaged and working hard to see the finished picture!

Large-scale graphic recording has the same effect on grown ups. It gets them engaged (even thought they're just watching) and keeps them engaged in the content. Even when minds wander, the subtle movement of the graphic recorder and the curiosity of what the finished picture will look like draw them right back to the content - just where you want the focus to be!