social, health, political imagery through the lens of G J Huba PhD © 2012-2021

Sometimes the following trick helps me both code notes (or task lists) and grabs my attention when the ignored task list is floating around on my desk or becomes part of the wad of notes, receipts, and other small pieces of paper that accumulate in my pockets. I review the wad of paper regularly (hopefully finding it before I put the pants or shirt in the laundry and being transformed to lint in the dryer).  This little trick is used by people who make sketchnotes for a living (see the wonderful books by Mike Rohde on sketchnoting). Sketchnoters — because of their business and professional audience — tend to use a more subtle and artistic version of what I do (after all their audience is wearing suits while my audience is me wearing shorts and an old T-shirt). Same principle though.


[Star Trek may have incorporated the following idea into some of its episodes.]



The thick-thin pens are called Fude de Mannen by their manufacturer Sailor and fairly inexpensive. A much more elegant and expensive option that does the same thing is any Sailor fountain pen with a Zoom nib. You can also do the same shift between thick and thin inexpensively with a Noodler’s flex pen or many calligraphy pens (the Japanese ones are best and brush pens work even better) or much more elegantly and expensively with either a Pilot Falcon pen or any Pilot pen equipped with an FA nib. I have no commercial relationship to any of these companies. The odds of finding any of these pens in a brick-and-mortar store in the USA are fairly low but they are available widely on the Internet with many coming directly from Japan (yup, they ship anywhere).


I use different writing implements to vary things, color code, and even slow myself down (like the decorative fonts do) in order to increase the time for memory encoding, to build in uniqueness that grabs attention, and to amuse myself (I am easy to amuse).

Many of these “tricks” are the same as those as used in mind mapping without the most important feature of structuring, restructuring, and formally associating many ideas.

The next logical step after these kind of notes is mind mapping which I strongly endorse. On the other hand, some people just want to takes notes and may not want to take the time to carefully think through them or organize their thoughts, and for those folks at least remember this.

&&& the purpoSe of noteS is to REmemBER in parT because the noteS are MEMOR(Y)able and you pay more attention to them ***

While I cannot prove this, it is my guess that these techniques will also be useful for those with memory and attention problems like normal aging, cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and ADHD. But all of these conjectures require empirical research to substantiate and are just WAGs (Wild Ass Guesses) on my part at this time.



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  1. August 24, 2014

    Just one PWD response: Just as multiple THINGS in a room make greater confusion for me, or “background” SOUNDS (ie radio or TV) multiply my confusion, in the same way multiple font colors, styles, etc make it much more difficult for me to remember pieces of the sentence long enough to understand concept. My theory is that at its most basic junction Reader must be able to connect the subject with verb and we PWD have increasing difficulty doing that. Lately I seldom even understand my own sentence after I have written it. I began blogging July 2014 and my blogs from late July into August reflect a lot of my frustration with read/write process, and gave PWD communication suggestions at

    • August 24, 2014

      Given the information in your comment and on your blog, I wonder how you feel about the visual presentations (mind maps, other diagrams) all over my blog site. Do the representation I have in the mind maps seem easier for you to understand than the same information in typical text? Is it easier for you to draw a diagram than write a paragraph?

      • August 24, 2014

        Can you find a simple one for me? By the time I get to the outer perimeter of even a semi-detailed grouping, I have forgotten the premise or base contained in the middle and have no idea what these words/concepts are supposed to connect to until I go back to what is in the center. The variety of everything gets in the way of processing meaning. I don’t have any problem at all processing meaning of individual words in even the most intricate essay — it is connecting the crucial concepts of the individual words. However something really simple like “mindmap” = ? is much easier than finding the words to ask the question. In past I used these (what I called “spiders”) as base for everything from theatrical personalization of my character to composing a speech or essay. Somehow I got away from using them.

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