According to this recent Guardian article (packed full of great research), creative pursuits don't just help us find our inner calm, they help us solve problems, too. So what's the sense in waiting til after work to get started?
Dump your digital devices
Don't worry, we live in the real world, too. We know you probably can't avoid digital devices all day, or even every day. But there are many ways to get things done that don't involve staring at a screen. And, they bring huge benefits to your productivity and quality of thought.
The constant pinging of phone, email, calendar notifications prevent us all from experiencing what psychologists call "flow" - that blissful state of happy, confident, almost meditative productivity that occurs when we are entirely focused on the task at hand. Flow state is often associated with more creative tasks - like drawing!
If you're feeling as though your devices have an unhealthy hold on you, you reset by taking in a few of the lessons on this recent sketchnote, based on the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma.
Draw when you need to think
Figuring stuff out is a messy business. The scramble of our thoughts-in-progress don't fit neatly into Google docs and spreadsheets. So, to do our best thinking, we need to give ourselves a different kind of space, where new ideas and plans have the freedom to take shape in a more organic way.
As the late great graphic designer, Milton Glaser, said: "When you draw an object, the mind becomes deeply, intensely attentive, and it’s that act of attention that allows you to really grasp something, to become fully conscious of it." To draw something is to understand it better.
Rachel, our director of storytelling, likes to find focus each workday morning with half an hour of thinking, planning and prioritising the day ahead.
"I've tried digital planners and to-do lists, but nothing quite fits me," she says. "I have to think things through with pencil and paper. Some days it's a scribbly list, with a few meaningless doodles in the margins, other days I feel like drawing the list itself. Either way, it helps give a sense of clarity and control over the day ahead, before I dive into Slack messages and emails."
You might prefer to draw at end of the day or the week to summarise your achievements, or your new priorities. Or use it to break the deadlock, when you're getting nothing done.
Working remotely from home is no bar to effective collaboration, just as working in the same physical space is not guarantee of it. Though we love it when clients can spend a day with us, vision mapping their plans onto the massive whiteboard walls of our studio - and we can't wait to get back to it - we've been absolutely delighted by the results of our virtual sessions. It turns out, creative collaboration can happen anywhere - in real and virtual spaces - and it's never been more vital.
We facilitate most of our vision mapping sessions on Google Jamboard's virtual whiteboards (here's another post on how we do it). But whether you're working towards a polished visual output, like a vision map, or just trying to get an idea out of your head and into a space where others can see it and help to develop it, we strongly recommend making drawing part of your team communication.
As Scriberia founder, Dan, says: "A drawing can save you some serious linguistic mileage. Sometimes, even a complete non-drawer will know, instinctively, that it’s better to draw something out than attempt to explain it verbally. When a set of directions gets complicated, who doesn’t reach for pen and paper and scribble out a rough map?"
Practice outside your discipline
Developing a new skill can have a really positive impact on the skills you already have. Lessons learned in one subject, can give you a valuable new perspective on another. So just as ballet can improve your rugby game, or piano can impact your ability to solve quadratic equations, so too, learning to draw has many benefits, even if you have no ambition to become an artist.
Studies have shown that drawing, whether observational or conceptual, is a fantastic cerebral workout, sparking activity across many different areas of the brain simultaneously. Regardless of how good an artist you are, when you draw you’re exercising and developing your visual processing powers, your fine-motor skills, your spatial awareness and your ability to plan, reason and solve problems. It’s also proven to aid the memory.