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How Note Taking Helps Me Come up with Hundreds of Creative Ideas

How Note Taking Helps Me Come up with Hundreds of Creative Ideas

Note taking always seems boring to people. It never seems to be something that will boost creativity. But this is not true.

If you are looking for an approach to help you think clearly and more creatively, Visual Note-taking or Sketchnoting will help. This technique will keep your brain active, engaged, and highly stimulated. Let’s look at what Visual Note-taking is, why you should use it, and how you can develop it.

What Exactly Is Visual Note Taking?

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    Visual Note-taking combines handwritten notes, symbols, drawings, and your creative brain.[1] You do not have to be an artist nor possess any experience whatsoever to use this technique.

    Additionally, you do not need expensive or fancy tools. All you need is a pen and paper.

    How Visual Note Taking Stimulates Your Brain

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      Visual Note-taking is an excellent method to connect (previously unseen) dots. These are the benefits of visual note taking:

      • Improved memory retention.
      • Active, engaged, and highly stimulated brain.
      • A better and more creative critical thinker and problem solver.
      • More creative ideas to be connected in different way.
      • Notes will become easier to review.

      Transform Ideas Through Visual Communication

        Try thinking like a comic book when you use this technique. The next time you are listening to a presentation, a lecture, or in a meeting, try to take notes visually. If you are a teacher, professor, or instructor, try developing your next lesson plan visually. Let’s see how.

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        • Step #1: Draw a line through the middle of your paper.
        • Step #2: On one side take hand written notes. The other side is for drawing.
        • Step #3: Do not write down everything verbatim, instead, use acronyms or abbreviations.
        • Step #4: Write down the key 4 or 5 main points or concepts.
        • Step #5: Start experimenting!

        Jetpens.com provides excellent examples of the following to use for beginning Visual Note-takers: Text, Shapes, Containers or Frames, Connectors, Icons, and Symbols.

          • Text: Try to make your text stand out. For example, if you are using the word “bold” make sure it appears as “BOLD” or “moving” should feel like it is literally MOVING!
          • Shapes: Use basic shapes and then make them come alive. For example, overlap two circles and turn them into a Venn diagram.
          • Frames: Use containers or frames to help consolidate or collect your ideas. For example, add a cloud over the head of person or symbol and include a quote from a lecture.
          • Connectors: Use connectors to link ideas or connect your thoughts via roads or networks.
          • Symbols: This is the easiest and best way to start on your journey to become a Visual Note-taker. If you are taking notes on economics, simply start adding visual symbols of money; or communication, start using symbols of an iPhone or e-mail. There are so many ways to make this work.

          So, how do you bring this all together? The easy answer is simply to just have fun and allow yourself to have fun. If you mess up, draw a new image! You must practice and experiment to make this work.

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            Continue on Your Visual Note-taking Journey

            Finally, let me recommend some references for you to explore more about visual note-taking so you can apply the skill right away.

            Remember, there is no limit to what your mind can create. Visualize success when using this skill as there are an infinite amount of ways you can use it.

              Reference

              More by this author

              Dr. Jamie Schwandt

              Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

              9 Game Changing Tips on How to Write Goals (and Reach Them!) Creative Brain Test: 10 Best Ways To Test Your Creative Intelligence How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills for a Sharper Mind

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              Last Updated on September 20, 2018

              8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

              8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

              You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

              Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

              When you train your brain, you will:

              • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
              • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
              • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

              So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

              1. Work your memory

              Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

              When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

              If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

              The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

              Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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              Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

              What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

              For example, say you just met someone new:

              “Hi, my name is George”

              Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

              Got it? Good.

              2. Do something different repeatedly

              By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

              Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

              It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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              And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

              But how does this apply to your life right now?

              Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

              Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

              Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

              So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

              You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

              That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

              3. Learn something new

              It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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              For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

              Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

              You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

              4. Follow a brain training program

              The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

              5. Work your body

              You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

              Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

              Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

              Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

              6. Spend time with your loved ones

              If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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              If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

              I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

              7. Avoid crossword puzzles

              Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

              Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

              Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

              8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

              Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

              When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

              So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

              The bottom line

              Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

              Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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