A few months ago I picked up a copy of Mike Rohde‘s The Sketchnote Handbook, which is a guide for visual note taking. (You may also know Mike from his illustrations in The $100 Startup and Rework.) Since I tend more toward the verbal than visual end of the expression scale, I’d always wanted to figure out a way to implement visual elements into my notes. In fact, I’ve had great success with the practice of Mind Mapping, so I was excited to try Mike’s techniques.
Since adopting them, Mike’s sketchnotes techniques have opened up a new world of ideas and connections for me. I’ve started thinking differently about strategy, my writing, and even how I process my study time.
Here are four reasons I think you should start sketching your notes:
1. You will notice new, previously overlooked connections
In the interview below, I shared with Mike that by sketching some concepts for my new book, my understanding of the topic was completely re-framed. I saw interconnectedness that I didn’t previously recognize, and it helped me write a much stronger argument. By using illustrations rather than words, you will begin to notice how concepts overlap.
2. It will slow you down
Sketching your notes forces you to take time to process what you’re doing. When writing lists and facts, it’s super easy to move quickly, but you sometimes miss little prompts and flashes of intuition your mind is sending your way. Taking the time to sketch your notes forces you to stay in the moment just a little longer, and hopefully to notice those valuable insights.
3. It will shift your perspective
It’s easy to get into ruts and fall into the trap of looking at your work only one way. When you sketch your notes, you are likely to exercise muscles that aren’t on autopilot, which will allow you to perceive the topic through a fresh lens.
4. It’s fun
Play is essential to innovation, creative thought, and just the simple enjoyment of life. Drawing, doodling, and organizing your notes visually provides you with an opportunity to experiment and play with your thoughts, which in turn is likely to open up a new way of seeing the world, and may even serve up a few new ideas too.
Because I was so impacted by visual note taking, I asked Mike if he would do a brief audio interview about some of the basics. You can listen to it below.
Interview with Mike Rohde: