How do you think?

When I have too much to do and I don’t know where to start, I tend to sit and stare for a while. I have been doing that a lot this week 🙂

I have found myself staring at the bookshelf in my office and I noticed something: many of the books are focused on visual thinking or presentation. Books like Visual Explanations and Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte are among the ones I look at most often. I guess that is not a surprise but I am seeing a rise in the tweetosphere and edusphere about visual thinking and I am thinking about how I can improve my own visual thinking.

I have been reading Vizability (albeit very slowly) at the suggestion of Rachel Smith at the NMC aka @ninmah who does amazing visual captures of meetings and talks and generously shares not only her work but how she does it as well.

Then, Nancy White (@nancywhite and one of the authors of Digital Habitats – which has another blog post just waiting to be written about it) also recently shared a link to a book called Sketching at Work. I look forward to checking it out.

All of this to say, I am SUCH a visual thinker. I doodle during meetings and like to work out my plans by drawing them:


I spent a good part of the start of a very large course management system project drawing a flowchart and planning how to put all of the pieces together using a huge roll of paper, sticky notes and index cards. Wish I had taken a picture of that!

I love the “big picture” diagrams at the start of any technical presentation (and miss them when they are not given). When asked about scheduling a meeting or something like that, I see a calendar in my head. If I could be surrounded by whiteboards, I would. I want to draw my plans and I think flowcharts are awesome! 🙂 However, I do recall that I was terrible at the spatial relations tests where they presented a flat cutout pattern and you had to pick what it would look like when folded in a cube. Could. Not. Do. That.

And, I really cannot draw very well so, while I can aspire to take notes like Rachel, I will stick to my circles and arrows and paragraphs to explain what each one is for the time being. But, it does speak for how I do like to think and I want to try to continue to build on my visual thinking skills.

How do you think?