Bullet Journaling

Hello friends and SuperFriends,

Since February, I've been using the Bullet Journal method of notetaking and task tracking. I don't use every component of the system, nor do I elaborately embellish the pages as some #bujo fans do. That's the beauty of this system - you can keep it simple or you can ramp up the complexity.

I have gotten so much out of it that I am doing a workshop for my colleagues on the basics of the method. As I told someone a few weeks ago, all I need to do is close my eyes and picture my notebook on my desk. That reminds me that all of my important work tasks are identified and organized for me to tackle them. It's surprisingly relaxing to know that everything (or almost everything) you need to do is written down and ready for action!

This article by Jan Eppingstall is a good brief explanation of some of the potential cognitive benefits of bullet journaling.

To get started, visit the Bullet Journal site to learn the basics. There is ample instruction via text and short videos. Any notebook will do, but I prefer Moleskine brand ones. I have used lined pages before, but with the next notebook I'll try one with dot-grid pages. I tried blank paged ones, but I need some structure else everything I write ends up at an awful slant.

I've also found that splurging a bit ($2-3.00) on a pen you really like helps make the journaling fun (or potentially more colorful). Here are three pen models I use most:

  • Staedtler Tri-Plus Fineliner
  • Stabilo point 88
  • Pilot Hi-Tec C Coleto .5mm (You can customize this pen with the colors of your choice).

I buy most of my pens from JetPens.com but the Staedtler fineliners are available at Office Max/Office Depot. The Stabilo I've seen at both Michael's and Aaron Brothers stores if you have those in your area.

I'll post some additional links later but for now, check it out and see if it might work for you! It sure works for me!



Sketchnotes! Super Cool!

In one of my down-the-rabbit-hole afternoons of doing presentation research, I came across Mike Rohde's book The Sketchnote Handbook and borrowed a copy through Interlibrary Loan (like any good librarian).

Sketchnotes are visual notes, combining words and pictures, which help you to make more robust mental models of topics as you learn them. Here's my first one:

This sketchnote covers a talk on user experience given by a candidate for a job opening we have at our library. I made another one later in the day during a meeting about upcoming changes to our evaluation scoring system (much less interesting).

Sketchnoting encourages you to "relax up" and to focus on capturing the big ideas of something, rather than furiously trying to write down everything a speaker says.

I usually doodle when taking notes anyway (almost always desserts or trees--weird) so this wasn't too much of a stretch and I admit I was skeptical. But it was FUN! And I feel like I absorbed the presenter's message much more clearly using the sketchnotes process.

I will be using this technique more and more in my own notetaking, and am thinking about how it can be incorporated into presentations of many types.

Interested in learning more? Get the book (I've ordered my own copy on BN.com now) or visit the Sketchnote Army website, where you can see lots of examples from people around the world.

TGIF, and enjoy your weekend!



"Spotlighting" parts of a slide

Back on my old blog, the most-viewed entry was a short piece I wrote linking to instructions for "spotlighting" certain parts of an image on a slide. That method still works, but I found another one that is shorter by a few steps.

Alas, PowerPoint still has no way to do on-the-fly spotlighting during a slide show--you'll need an extra piece of software such as Presentation Assistant if you want to spotlight things "live."

Evidence in the research literature suggests improved learning when students/audience members are overtly directed to important features or content points. This is known as "signaling" or "cueing." In the example above, I've used the spotlight to direct the viewer's attention to two areas of significance, but you can also do it verbally: "Notice the menu of options on the left side of the screen." An example of signaling that might be more familiar to you is when a teacher tells his students: "This will be on the test."

I'll talk more about signaling in a future post, as I think it's a "secret weapon" that most presenters rarely use. Stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, give the technique a try, and credit for the new method I found goes to ShapeChef.



Topics I Should Be Working On For You

Thanks to the folks who kindly responded to my quick survey. It's still open if you want to share your thoughts!

Topics for me to explore and come up with some ideas for you:

  • Audience engagement/interaction. ('cause yeah, no one really likes sitting still and just listening for an hour).
  • Incorporating live data or data visualizations (ooh, a challenge for me!)
  • Saying what you need to say in the time allotted (tough, because you know so much about the topic!)
  • Storyboarding (be still my heart! Somebody gets it!)
  • Exiting the "weeds" gracefully when the discussion is off-topic (if you don't know the "parking lot" technique, you should).
  • Presenting "processes." (I'm thinking workflows, step-by-step instruction here--also a challenge to present effectively).
  • More creative slide designs (yes, yes, and YES!)

Your feedback is so very helpful for me to figure out where to focus my efforts. No need to cover topics you're likely to be comfortable with - let's skip to the tough stuff!

Thanks, and don't hesitate to contact me directly (hilyer AT gmail (dot) com) if you have particular suggestions or ideas!



New Year! New Site! New Book Coming!

Happy New Year!

I've had a website or blog of one kind or another for about ten years now. All those websites and content scattered all over is somewhat of an untidy mess. But the thought of downloading and picking through all that content, then putting it back up on a hand-coded website made me frown. So I'm going to wipe the slate clean and start over with a simpler web presence.

I'm interested in a lot of things, and I learn interesting tips and techniques, approaches and ideas in my work and creative pastimes. Around the site I've linked to some of that prior content that is still useful and might be of interest (Aunt Katy's pound cake recipe, for example).

We are still boring one another with awful presentations, so the struggle continues on in 2016. It's been seven years since I wrote my first presentations book, so admittedly some of that content is stale and in need of a refresh. I've got some new approaches to presentation design and delivery which I'll share in a new e-book coming later this year.  As things develop I'll keep you posted.

For all my professional details, see my LinkedIn profile or my UH Libraries' profile page.