One of my daily habits is scribbling in my diary – it is a very busy, and highly decorated book. I use my diary to pen my thoughts, reflections, observation and learning in this shy, unassuming document. Sometimes, it can be an idea, or work-in-progress. I have proposed some models of leadership and learning over the years, and developed them further with this hand-eye exercise. I have a small library of these hand-printed books over the last decade, of which I am thankful for; this was in my pre-blogging days (which I started only in May 2009). These books are my non-digital archive of knowledge and documented experiences.
Free association is a process where you just let your intuition and fingers do the walking. Doodle, draw a mind map, or sketch a diagram – these are useful exercises for your brain. Dr Betty Edwards wrote a book ‘Draw On The Right Side of Your Brain’ – what a great title!
Author-Lecturer-consultant, Douglas O’Loughlin and I have been exchanging e-mail about the left-right brain dominance theory. We are questioning the generalized mapping of the complex human brain.
My students and audiences regularly ask me how I developed mastery in Mandarin. I practise with friends almost everyday, and write down phrases in HanYuPinYin and in simplified Chinese characters. I could be on the train, and voyeuristically study the headlines of the Chinese newspapers, spread-eagled before me, and I surreptitiously copy it onto my book. Most languages work on memory, so if you can remember the pen-strokes you can reproduce it; likewise, this applies to reading foreign languages.
To keep abreast of technology, jargon and lingo I write down terms and phraseology I do not understand. My book reminds me what to ask somebody later. Invariably, these confusing terms creep into my ‘geek’ vocabulary, as I articulate and pronounce them with a sense of confidence. Seek and ye may find!
I also write my daily and weekly schedule, to-do lists, prioritized tasks, strategies and long-term plans. I tick them as I go along, and this assures me of my progress. I do have a few procrastinated items that I eventually attend to because of the ‘exclamation marks’ and ‘question marks’ I mark beside them! My daily blogs are planned according to themes and titles; sometimes, they are triggers for other latent topics. I play with alliterative titles, words of semantic density, or a quotation (I love sayings and utterances of famous people).
Get a small sketchpad or diary, and start scratching!