Mike Rohde is the developer of sketchnotes. His revolutionary ideas are here in an online demonstration. A great technique for everyone and useful if you have cognitive problems like memory loss or other impaired thinking. I use this technique to deal with my own neurocognitive disease.
A powerful set of tools for journaling are those that create visualizations depicting data, ideas, facts, research, news, evaluations, comments, polls, opinions, feelings, planning, communications, and models of many things. And any other things you can visualize.
Visual data of varying types can be visualized as graphs, diagrams, doodles, models, mind maps, sketchnotes, images, and infographics along with many other types of visual displays.
Visual thinking is underused by those who need to understand and synthesize information for themselves and others. Such methods should be taught and used throughout our educational systems.
Mike Rohde’s seminal work on #sketchnotes is a brilliant contribution to the knowledge base on communicating and using visual thinking methods.
I have recently done much work on using mind map methods to assist those with typical aging, dementia, and cognitive planning for their futures which may include cognitive decline with age or after brain trauma.
Mike #Rohde and his disciples say to hand sketch when using his visual thinking model. I am moderately good at simple sketchnoting. See here for early posts on hand-drawn sketchnoting (with examples) for those with dementia (by someone — me — who has dementia).
But how might you use a computer program to generate a sketchnote? Here is an example prepared with the superb mind map program iMindMap of my guidelines about how to combine strengths of mind mapping and sketchnoting.
Of course, I prepared this as a computer-assisted sketchnote with iMindMap.
Within my application space of developing visual displays for those with typical aging or dementia or brain trauma or concerns about future cognitive decline as they age, I think the best applications of sketchnoting would be instructions for various methods and issues, historical records, and visual thinking for people who usually acquire new information through written or verbal media (conversations).
I expect to be adding a lot of posts about (or using) sketchnotes in the next few months to Hubaisms.com. Here is how to find the existing ones and the ones I will add. The information as a sketchnote. Click on the images to expand them.
Click on image to expand. Estimated time to develop for a NOVICE (me) = 15 minutes. The sketchnote was drawn by a person with dementia (me).
[Note. I usually write/draw note panels like this from right to left in sections because I am left-handed and it minimizes the amount of smeared ink. There is no magic in this, so use any organization that works for you.]
Sketchnotes are one of the most powerful tools for developing visual memory systems for everyone.
I have blogged about them many times. For me, the limiting feature has always been the (low) speed at which I can draw simple figures for inclusion in the sketchnotes, the (poor) quality of them.
I discovered a brilliant little book by Mauro Toselli (@xLontrax at Twitter and Instagram) which broke the barrier for me. The book is titled “100+1 Drawing Ideas for Sketchnoters and Doodlers” which was recently published (2016). The book is available at the world’s largest online bookstore in many countries. Toselli is the co-founder of the web site http://www.SketchnoteArmy.com where is is a very active editor, sketchnoter, and promoter of sketchnotes.
The book contains quick instructions for drawing attractive “icons” or “cartoon figures” especially useful for inclusion in Sketchnotes. In 60 minutes you can break the barrier to having effective sketches in sketchnotes even if you have minimal artistic talent like me. The 100+1 examples can be generalized into 1000s of related figures; for instance his example of quickly sketching a lion can be pretty easily adapted into sketching my dog, a bear, or a cat.
Highly recommended. Inexpensive.
I consider sketchnotes to be a natural complement and alternative to mind models (aka mind maps), and this book will help you use small sketches quickly and attractively in sketchnotes. I have found nothing better although I have purchased more than a dozen introductory sketching books in the past year.
Just get this book if you are serious about sketchnoting for any application. Sketchnotes work wonderfully for me — they are compelling, attention getting, and help organize information. As a child I made notes like this but was quickly trained out of doing so by the education system pushing me into the old staid outlines and none of these “scribbles” in the margins. I wish I had ignored all of the teachers and continued sketchnoting 57 years ago (when I was 8). Oh well, you can teach an old horse new tricks (or at least to return to the pasture), and I now know recognize sketchnoting as an extremely powerful technique for everyone to learn.
As a note, the definitive (and easily accessible, more general) books on the overall technique of Sketchnoting are by Mike Rohde. Search for “Rohde” on this site (the box at the left margin on every page of the blog) and you will find a number of posts where I have discussed Rohde’s seminal work especially as it applies to people with dementia.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BOOK as are all sketchnotes and blog posts by Mr Toselli. Toselli has written a brilliant book and tweets extremely effective sketchnotes of special interest because he works on important social issues.
The back cover of the book expresses brilliantly one of the basic “rules” of sketchnoting. I’ve added a few of my annotations.
January 11 2016 is the first World Sketchnote Day. FIRST one. EVER. Submit a sketchnote on social media and you can be a PIONEER. Get yourself one of those #1 fingers at your local football stadium.
Since reading the two books by Mike Rohde @rohdesign I have been convinced that sketchnotes are a fantastic way to make informational notes (reminders, lists, summaries, addresses) if you have or want to prepare for cognitive impairment and later dementia.
Image the power of a sketchnote about a friend or a favorite vacation or Wisconsin or the joys of ice cream or your favorite Super Bowl when your memory is declining. Something novel and compelling and engaging may help trigger many memories and even build new ones.
I love my photo albums, but a sketchnote goes beyond a photo and allows for a summary including stylized graphics, emotions, memory triggers, relationships, and feelings of success and love.
I have long believed that mind maps and sketchnotes are extremely powerful tools for sparking and prolonging memories for those facing neurocognitive disorders or just normal aging. The topic is discussed in many blog posts here – use the search engine on Hubaisms.com.
I am especially enamored with the idea of combining sketchnotes and Buzan-style mind maps.
A sticky note with a sketchnote stuck on a refrigerator or computer monitor or mirror could help a person with dementia or cognitive impairment have a better day. Think about that. I personally need a funny sketchnote reminding me to shave on the mirror.
I am a rank amateur at sketchnoting (I spend most of my time working on the theory of mind mapping) but I still use lots of sketchnotes every day. A sticky note page has become synonymous for me with a mini-sketchnote.
Here is my sketchnote for the first World Sketchnote Day #SNDay2016. My sketchnote is extremely amateurish but is extremely effective for me (a person with neurodegenerative disease and dementia).
If you are a pro sketchnoter, please help by developing methods to help those with cognitive impairment remember, plan, understand, and communicate. If you are someone dealing with cognitive decline, or a caretaker or family member, give this method a try. It takes a pencil and a pad (and maybe some refrigerator magnets). If you are a healthcare provider, consider giving your patients reminder sticky notes which use sketchnoting principles.
My sketchnote of the day complete with the official #hashtag. I am a pioneer. Whoo-hooo. Thanks #MikeRohde. You’re #1.
Since 2012, this blog has tried to help persons with dementia and their caregivers learn to use mind maps and other visual thinking tools to simplify the journey through dementia and lessen some of the burdens placed upon caregivers and persons with dementia.
Mind mapping and other visual thinking tools are ways of representing ideas and communicating through pictures and diagrams. In addition to mind maps, other useful visual thinking tools are sketchnotes, doodles, diagrams, and photography.
I focus on mind maps because that is what I primarily use, but sketchnotes and other ways of representing information are also good.
Note that while I use computer programs, you can draw any of these diagrams with a piece of typing paper (if this is not big enough for you, tape a few pieces together), a pencil or pen, and a little care to print legibly. It is best to use a few colored pencils to make the diagram a little clearer but not necessary.
The important part of the diagrams is the organization and the words (ideas) you express.
The mind map below shows some of the people who might benefit from your diagrams including the person with dementia and YOU. Mind maps are a very powerful way of presenting information to others and organizing and remembering your thoughts.
Virtually any kind of information can be presented in a diagram. Here are some examples. As you collect such information you can make it available to others.
Persons with dementia benefit from knowing their schedules and what is coming up. It cuts anxiety. Doctors can absorb information from you rapidly, in context, and accurately. My internist and neurologist like to see them. Family members will like to see what is going on, and this is a way to manage and increase their own involvement in care. Mind maps about what the person with dementia likes and behaves can make your job an easier one for others to assume so that you can have some well-needed respite. Care notes can help everyone know what has been going on for the person with dementia.
Whether these notes are made by a family caregiver and loved one or made by a paid caregiver, they can be invaluable both for maintaining the quality of care and informing others the best ways they can help
This is an extremely important research article supporting processes that are presumably engaged in mind mapping and sketchnoting.
The study is too small to be accepted as “proving” or “strongly supporting” the “drawing effect,” but should it be replicated in a much larger sample, it would strongly suggest the efficacy of mind mapping, sketchnoting, and other visual thinking methods for memory recall.
If you have not read the Introduction to this series of posts, it is important that you read it before this post. Click here for the Part 00 Introduction. This post is part of a series of more than a dozen posts.
I worked on understanding health and social service programs, especially for the disabled, poor, disenfranchised, and traditionally underserved as a program evaluator for about 25 years. I was very good at it and worked with hundreds of programs spread over most US states.
In writing about my activities to achieve stability in my dementia and maximize my quality of life, I am going to employ the tools of program evaluation to describe what I was trying to achieve, what I did to achieve my goals, why I did various activities, and which parts of my interventions seemed to help me the most. No, not in this post but in a series of more than a dozen posts.
In this post I will start by describing the activities I designed for myself and did throughout my period of diagnosed dementia over six years of living with the disease. In subsequent posts, especially Posts 02 and 03, I will discuss the outcomes of my activities. After that, I will address some of my activities — and especially those that “worked” extremely well for me — and describe them in depth, show how other individuals might use these methods, and how dementia caregiver and healthcare systems might be built around them.
The image below is a mind map. Should you not be familiar with how a mind map is drawn and read, please search this website for posts on mind mapping using the search box. Or, go to the home page by clicking here and look at the list of pre-defined searches.
A very simple set of rules for reading a mind map is as follows.
Start at the center of the diagram. Each of the topics (ideas or major branches) that come out of the center represents an issue. Important information about the main issues is given as a series of branches. The organization is in an outline or tree where large branches divide into smaller branches and smaller branches divide into even smaller branches.
Think of the map as a clock face and start at the 1 o’clock position (upper right corner). Read outward from the center along the branches and sub-branches to see how ideas and information about the topics can be arranged in a hierarchical or tree structure. [If you could go up a huge fire truck ladder and look straight down, you would see a structure of tree branches that looks like a mind map. When we study or read a mind map, we are looking at a whole tree — set of information — and then seeing how small and more specific information spreads from the trunk.]
Go around the map in a counter-clockwise manner (to 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, etc.), following the branches down to their branches and their branches and finally to twigs. Remember that we are looking down at a whole idea [or tree] and its branches and their branches in order to understand how the information represented on these branches goes together and what the most important information is.
The mind map is thus a picture of major ideas followed by its major subdivisions or branches and sub-branches. The “big ideas” are attached directly to the central issue.
A mind map is a way of showing in an image how a set of data pieces or ideas go together.
The pictures, color coding, and fonts are used to designate what is the most important information in the mind map. When you are trying to remember or organize or determine priorities, the pictures, color coding, and size of the fonts can help you store information in “visual” parts of the brain and then retrieve it by thinking about pictures, the color coding, or size-importance of the information.
Click on the mind map to expand its size and zoom to various portions of the map.
As you can see, I tested app after app after app on my Mac and iPhone to see which could help me. I read all about how to mindmap and draw sketchnotes and I practiced and practiced. I learned to read “dog” and taught my Newfie to understand “people.” I doodled, watched the news, built a highly-rated social media following of more than 140,000 individuals interested in healthcare, dementia, visual thinking, and 100s of other topics from around the world. I went to concerts, watched movies, and cheered for the two local universities with huge sports programs. I engaged some new parts of my brain. I thought in pictures.
I HAD FUN.
I LEARNED MANY NEW THINGS THAT STRETCHED MY BRAIN INTO NEW CHANNELS.
I BUILT COGNITIVE RESERVE.
I THINK I PROVIDED NEW INFORMATION TO PERSONS WITH DEMENTIA AND COGNITIVE DECLINE, CAREGIVERS, HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS, AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC. I FEEL GOOD ABOUT THIS.
Nothing in this blog post is intended as medical or psychological advice. Should you wish to understand the issues in cognitive training as they pertain to you, consult with your doctor, psychologist, or another licensed healthcare provider. I am neither suggesting that you use cognitive (brain) training or alternate methods of thinking although I have made such a choice for myself. The intent of this post is that you understand the issues with these methods should you be making a choice.
In the past three decades, methods of cognitive training have been developed by many companies. Services are offered by online companies, individual healthcare professionals, and some psychological testing companies.
The developers-owners of cognitive training methods make many claims about how these methods can improve or maintain GENERAL cognitive (brain) functioning for typical adults, those starting cognitive decline, and those entering the faster decline of dementia.
In most cases, costs associated with receiving cognitive training — especially under the supervision of a licensed professional — can be quite high.
As the term is used, cognitive training consists of repeatedly taking cognitive tests developed usually in psychology research studies and typically presented on a computer. Look at a complex picture flashed on the screen rapidly and say where a selected object (thing, person) was shown on the screen. Look for sequences of numbers and letters. Ignore distracting stimuli when looking at the computer screen. In many cases, these tests look like “old time” computer games like Tetris.
These cognitive training procedures are supposed to make you better at thinking by training your brain in certain types of ways that then improve the ability to do a very general and large set of tasks in attention, judgment, planning, and other cognitive processes. It is assumed that learning to perform well ON THESE SPECIFIC TASKS will help you think better in a general way. Unfortunately, it appears after decades of studying cognitive training, it is found that the training on a test will help you get somewhat (and it is a small somewhat) better at taking THAT TEST ONLY and not in similar cognitive tasks more related to day-to-day activities. Yes, you might get better at identifying flashing letters when they appear on the screen, but there is little, if any, replicable evidence that becoming good at the test generalizes into being good at exercising attention in real world situations.
Just what you always think when you think about psychology. Psychologists study “dumb” tasks that look little like real world situations and then claim that getting good at those tasks will change your life. You usually laughed when you read this stuff in news outlet stories. Nonetheless, cognitive training continues to sell and expand and advertise. Money can be made selling cognitive training to individuals concerned with their current and future ability to think well and remember and maintain independence. Many claims are made that the methods work and the glossy, high-priced advertising is convincing, but the statistics are not. And yes, the companies that sell cognitive testing products claim that the training works if THEY conduct the experiments and evaluate their own products. However, ongoing INDEPENDENT RESEARCH suggests this is NOT the case.
Did you really expect the ethics of cognitive training companies to exceed those of pharmaceutical companies? The false claims to be less? Big money, big pressure to prove that these things work.
Independent psychologists who evaluate the effectiveness of programs and assertions of others do not find much if any, effect of cognitive training on improving general cognitive functioning, thinking, and performance in real-life situations faced by aging adults.
The most important INDEPENDENT EVALUATION appears in a journal of the Association for Psychological Science of which I am a Fellow. APS is one of the two major psychological associations in the USA and designation as a Fellow comes only after a thorough peer evaluation of competence.
Click here to see a short summary of the research that examines all of the research over several decades on cognitive training. The full report is 83 pages. I still understand most of the mumbo-jumbo in the full report. You will have to pay to purchase the full report if you are not a member of APS. My judgment is that the summary is very accurate in presenting the results of this research through what is called a meta-analysis and I doubt that most people need read more than the 1-page summary.
OK then, so cognitive training probably will not turn out to be the big fix for what ails your thinking as you age or you have a neurodegenerative (neurological) disease. Maybe improvements will be made in future decades but right now the effects appear to be tiny at best.
What’s the alternative?
I have argued for a number years that learning alternate ways of thinking and expanding the types of information your brain can effectively process can be very useful throughout your life. While learning such strategies in childhood is best, you can keep learning new ways to think up until the day you die and expect to get some significant return for your work.
What kinds of activities have been shown to increase brain function? Learning additional languages, studying a musical instrument, learning math, creating art or stories, and many others to which we all have access, typically with a minimum expense. These are real-world activities and many are a lot of fun.
As I progressed through cognitive decline and dementia I have come to believe that learning what are called visual thinking methods — arranging information into pictures that organize major ideas and show the “big picture” — can help you in many ways I have documented throughout this blog (Hubaisms.com). Of course, my findings are based only my own observations of myself and not on formal studies. I note, however, that sometimes observations are better sources of information than research studies, especially from individuals touting products they have invested millions of dollars in developing.
I think that the fuzzy research on cognitive training and the fact that mind mapping is seen as effective at most Fortune 500 corporations, many universities worldwide and by millions of users worldwide at this time suggests that learning alternate WAYS TO THINK probably is much more effective than cognitive training (akin to playing a 1980s computer game).
My suggestion is that if you are concerned that your ability to think will decline or you are already experiencing cognitive decline, you take some time (1-8 hours will help you evaluate this) and determine if visual thinking is useful for you. You can read my work on this blog or work created by Buzan when he popularized mind mapping in business and education or look at many other authors who write on this topic such as Nast. Major summaries and videos are available online. If you would like to see someone with dementia use mind mapping, you can click here to watch a number of short videos of my mind mapping process in a new window.
Alternate visual thinking methods that I find useful are SKETCHNOTES, doodles, cartoons, and graphs.
You can try mind maps, sketchnotes, doodles, cartoons, and graphics with a few pencils or pens you already own and a piece of paper (A4 or 8.5×11 in landscape mode).
Later you can buy computer apps to make the visual thinking look better if you want but you need not do so.
Look at the image below to show the way I think about the information in this post visually using a mind map.
If you want me to understand something or remember it, DRAW ME A PICTURE. I’m a lot smarter than you might think if you just talk to me. Oh, and you need not be artistic at all to use the techniques in visual thinking so don’t use the excuse that you have no “talent.”
Think you have a million of those sticky notes on your computer monitor, office wall, idiotic memos, email you printed out as well as in your wallet, pockets, and stuck on file cabinets.
About a “million” is nothing. Wait until you have aging memory or neurocognitive impairment (MCI, dementia). You will be buying more sticky notes every time you get near a Big Box office supply store.
Think you are going to keep all of the reminders you write yourself all day by typing them into an electronic device? Uh huh. I’ve started down that track many many many times in the past 35 years starting with the very first Palm Pilot that came on the market and progressing through an iPaq (yup, the spelling is correct), the Treo smart phone, Blackberries, the iPhone, the iPad, and a dozen different kinds of laptop and notebook computers.
I confess. I failed. Every time I tried.
I ended up with those damn sticky notes and file cards. At least now I take pictures of the sticky notes with my iPhone and upload them to Evernote and (Apple) Photos where I never can find them again.
Now sadly it comes down to that problem of legible handwriting. If I can’t read the note 10 minutes later, it didn’t happen. Used to be I could remember what I wrote on the note. Now … well why do you think I wrote the note? There is no memory backup if you cannot read your own handwriting.
Legibility. Come on, how many of your friends write legible printing or cursive handwriting? Do you? Can you do it quickly?
I started using fountain pens and LARGE cursive writing a couple of years ago and it helped but there were still a lot of notes that I have to guess at words which is pretty silly because I wrote them. It might be a joke in the office to say “I can’t read my own handwriting,” but it is not funny at all if the only way you can remember what to buy at the grocery store is from a handwritten note.
Italic handwriting is super fast and almost invariably legible. It takes 1-2 hours to learn and practice. That’s it. Works with ballpoint pens, pencils, fountain pens, and I suspect crayons although I have yet to formally test crayons (one of the kids “borrowed” my crayons off my home office desk).
You can start to learn italic handwriting from this very short article in the New York Times and a few charts you will find scattered around the Internet. Yes, really. TWO hours. For definitive books, search for Getty and Dubay and buy their book on adult handwriting.
Learn this method of handwriting and when you get old and your memory is going, you will at least be able to read the memory notes you wrote for yourself, family, caregivers, and healthcare providers.
Click the mind maps to expand them.
remaining examples all fountain pen (different pens)
Special note: If you want a computer font to use in various graphic application programs, take a look at Sketchnote Italic by designer (and sketchnote father) Mike Rohde. This font is the best match I have found to Italic Printing and is exceptionally clear and “memorable.” It also has the property of looking “relaxed” and may be less stressful for those reminders you really don’t want to remember. Mike’s font is the one used in the mind maps above.
Rohde’s books on Sketchnoting are highly recommended as definitive sources for combining printed handwriting and small “doodle-like” graphics to enhance understanding and memory. These should be on the must-read list for anyone using handwritten notes.
At this point in my life, I am much better at drawing pictures, or structured learning and thinking pictures (mind maps), than writing out a long list of arguments.
I have “street cred” in making the points in these two mind maps. Been there, done that.
Before making the main points I’d like to tell a short story. In addition to the information in this first mind map, between 1993 and 2010, I ran many “evaluation and technical assistance centers” for the US Government on their identified and funded innovative and targeted HIV/AIDS Services programs.
The biggest lesson I ever learned as a professional during this period was that the people with the disease knew a lot more about the problems with the service system (and how to fix them) than I did. I was “schooled” in 1993 by 19-year-old Scott, a brilliant young man who was the President of Bay Area Young Positives, a peer organization. Although he never graduated from high school before he graduated to the streets of San Francisco, he knew far more about how to fix the system than I did. Before I could meet with him at a next scheduled meeting four months later, he had died from AIDS.
I thought about Scott for years as I do about many others like him I met over the next five years who have been helped by the miracle of modern combination antiretroviral therapies. In my professional judgment, at the time I knew him, Scott was probably in advanced stages of AIDS-related dementia. Yet at that time, he knew more about why the service system failed than I did. Even though he was handicapped by the communication system of the time (words and more words and anger and more angry words), he did make it clear that we were all fucked up and did not understand facts standing right in front of our noses. He was right.
Pictures and websites and 25 years of advancement in communication methods should make us better at jointly solving problems with the service system.
Sadly, in the area of dementia, these methods have not been used to their full potential.
We have to fix the websites of most dementia-related organizations. Those websites are not providing information to all (INCLUDING and especially to persons with dementia) as well as they should nor are they encouraging all to react to the contents although they do encourage all to make contributions, join research studies, visit their web stores, and come to their clinics for treatment.
Ask someone with dementia how they feel about your dementia website. You might get “schooled.” And that would be good.
Click on the images to expand them.
Why I feel I can “yell” at you …
and what I have to say …
The two most important doctors I have for trying to remain self-sufficient are Dr Google and Dr Me. Both are largely dependent upon useful and quality and relevant information on the Internet. Unlike my providers who require appointments weeks (months) in advance, Dr Google and Dr Me are available to consult 24/7 without cost. Make your website communicate better to Dr Me (who has dementia) and you will help him and Dr Google maintain my ability to understand and care for myself.
Make it so. Please!!!
PS. The methods I advocate throughout my blog and book are ones that cost pennies per day for an individual to use and which would also greatly improve websites very inexpensively. Mind maps, sketchnotes, cartoons, doodles, color coding, informative videos … all ideas that work better and are not expensive to implement.
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.
So you’re in your fifties. One day the doctor diagnoses the cause of your crummy mood, personality changes, increasing social isolation, difficulty making decisions, memory loss, anger, or increasing financial instability as frontotemporal dementia (frontotemporal lobar degeneration), Lewy Body dementia, early Alzheimer’s disease, multiple system atrophy, ALS, corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Parkinsonism, or some combination of the preceding.
Heck you have barely even heard of most of these. Pretty much you can say that in any of these conditions various parts of your brain are failing leading to the condition that more fear far more than any other medical condition, the Big D, for DEMENTIA.
You get some commonsense (and old wives’ tale) advice from friends, neighbors, newspaper columnists, the MD and PhD who work for Oprah, Oprah, a bunch of web sites, and probably at least some of your doctors — start doing crossword puzzles and practice arithmetic.
OK. Darn, I have always hated crossword puzzles as a waste of good time better used watching ESPN. I prefer matrix algebra and calculus to arithmetic problems, although I do like to watch how the cooks measure foodstuffs on Chopped using such honored traditional techniques such as “pinches,” “handfuls,” “looks like a pound,” “feels like a quart,” and other examples of the special mathematics of the kitchen including the definitive one of ratios so you can scale your cupcake recipe from one to 37 which are most often correctly applied on baking shows.
So you have what my own senior neurological consultant referred to as a “terrible, terrible disease” of the brain. Do you pull out your iPad and scramble to complete innumerable arithmetic games and crossword puzzles?
Hell no. You congratulate yourself that you have learned those useful and continuing visual thinking skills and tools and used them for the past 40 years to enhance your life and career and education and now you open up the desk drawer where you store your mind maps, concept maps, sketchnotes, photographs, and charts.
Get with the program. Perfect this skill.
Want to learn more about my experiences with cognitive impairment and dementia and attempts to fight back using visual thinking methods and mind mapping to understand and communicate the problems and solutions?
<<<<<=== Over there on the left. Click on one of the book icons to obtain my new book Mind Mapping, Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia. Versions are available for Apple devices on the iBooks store and all other common devices on the Amazon Kindle store. There are 100s of essays like that in this blog post. And because I know the information is unique and valuable, I am charging about the same as others who write books on dementia or mind mapping. If you cannot afford to purchase the book, contact me and we will figure out a way to get the information to you some alternate ways.
Yeah, I know, shameless self promotion. How else do you expect me to get the message out about the “real issues” in dementia care and some very low cost methods of assistance that may help some (or many) and potentially increase the period of productivity and self sufficiency.
Developing effective sketchnotes and synthesizing knowledge into accessible mind maps can be complementary processes. Information captured in the sketchnoting process might be best expressed later as a series of mind maps. Some thoughts about combining Tony Buzan‘s work on mind mapping with Mike Rohde‘s break through creative work on sketch noting. Combining these methods can result in exceptional ways of communicating knowledge one well-conceived page at a time.
This is a review of Simple Diagrams 2 for the Mac. Incredible program, fairly priced. Mac only which is a problem since this program would be absolutely indispensable on an iPad or iPhone. I use this program a lot.
The following review was “written” in SimpleDiagrams2.
Sitting here in 2013, I am going to be making some predictions about how my own field of Psychology and other disciplines will change over the next few decades. In Psychology, the single most significant change will be the rise of Neuroscience (Cognitive and other areas) as the most important applied discipline. Also, clinical psychologists will rarely do therapy, but like their colleagues in Psychiatry primarily design therapies and mental health systems. One big advance and one big step backward.
The majority of the posts on this blog are about using visual thinking methods — of which I think that by far the best is #Buzan-style organic mind mapping — to understand, explain, evaluate, and communicate about healthcare. A lot of my own thinking has focused on using visual thinking techniques to potentially improve the quality of life of those with cognitive impairment and dementia.
Tony Buzan and Chris Griffiths and their colleagues and staff at ThinkBuzan have done a very comprehensive job at getting many of Buzan’s ideas embedded into a general purpose computer program (iMindMap) which provides a general visual thinking environment, of which mind mapping is a special part. There are many computer assisted mind mapping programs, but I have concluded that iMindMap is by far the best for creative visual thinking and communication, in no small part because it fully incorporates Buzan’s theory and theoretical implementation.
Like scientists and management consultants and educators and healthcare providers and patients and patient caregivers and students and many others, illustrators struggle with how to best use visual representations to support better thinking and communications.
Which brings up this beautifully conceived and executed little book that I have found to be mind expanding and liberating in how to develop and use a series of illustration techniques and “tricks” to look at things differently when trying to make creative breakthroughs.
Whitney Sherman is the author of the book “Playing with Sketches” which provides 50 exercises which collectively will change the way you think about creating images to understand and communicate ideas.While Ms. Sherman wrote the book for designers and artists, the techniques will be just as useful for visual thinkers in science, education, medicine, industry, and other fields. The beauty of Ms Sherman’s exercises is that in showing you fairly simple ways to make hugely informative and well designed images, the tools will themselves suggest many applications to visual thinkers of all types.
And, I have found that Ms. Sherman’s techniques can be used by the severely artistically challenged (of which I am one); the techniques are ones for Visual THINKERS, not necessarily artists and designers.
I have mentioned this book before in much less detail, but in the months I have used the methods, I have found that they WORK very well to facilitate creative visual thinking. For me they have promoted a breakthrough in how I see the visual thinking canvas.
Get the book, try some of the techniques (pick a random one here and there to start), discover that great artistic talent or aptitude is not required, and see how the techniques fit the information you study in search for better healthcare or disease prevention or decision making or facilitating creative group processes.
In partnership with Tony Buzan’s techniques for organic #mindmapping and Mike Rohde’s framework for #sketchnoting, the techniques codified by Whitney Sherman provide very powerful visual thinking tools.
I will be posting some examples of using the sketching techniques of Ms. Sherman to developing assistance and communication techniques for those with cognitive impairment or early-mid stages of dementia.