Meetings in tech are left-brain work; unless you doodle.
My schedule is normally packed like a dishwasher after Thanksgiving dinner, and much of my time is spent in meetings. Important meetings. I do not accept meetings that have no agenda, meetings where I cannot bring value or meetings with unclear value.
When I am in a conference room, I take old fashioned notes using pen and paper. Notes are important to me, and I do not use any cheap old paper. Maybe I am a bit of a paper snob. As such, I like to use Moleskines, an Italian brand of quality notebooks with a cult-like following in North America. I love the feel, the quality of the paper, and the durable bindings. I like my notes to last because I go back to them often; sometimes years later. I also periodically scan and archive my notebooks into Evernote for easy access from any device. Despite the electronic copy, I like to collect and use sturdy and durable originals.
I should mention: my notes are 10% words and 90% doodles. Sometimes 100% doodles, depending on the topic and my mood. To me, doodling is an important part of taking notes.
Doodling keeps the dog from chasing random sticks.
I doodle directly from my subconscious; my conscious has little to do with it. Doodling helps me to stay in the moment and focused on the topic discussed in the room. It quiets the barrage of distracting information flooding my visual cortex. Like a playful and dumb dog, my subconscious tends to run after visual sticks thrown around. Thankfully, pen and paper are the greatest stick of all. Better than a squirrel, more satisfying than a bone, juicier than dinner leftovers.
During meetings, I doodle to convert ideas into pictures, to render a visual memory of the content, and to capture the mood. I doodle to decorate my words and to fill the page with landmarks I can use later to find my entries. Once I imprinted a doodle next to my illegible handwriting, I can riffle through the pages of the notebook and retrieve the entry with ease. Days, weeks, months and even years later.
Doodling is rendering concepts.
Doodling during meetings encodes the intellectual content of a discussion. The drawings are the result of transforming concepts into abstract visualizations. Transferring internal visual chatter to marks on paper centers me; it keeps the right side of my brain busy, balancing and grounding me.
Why am I talking about this?
This blog is focused on what I learned about the human side of software engineering. My writing on the topic would not be complete if I didn’t share the artistic side of who I am, and how I use it to balance my mind. Therefore, every Tuesday I plan to publish a doodle from my Moleskine.
Often I’ll have to “censor” some of the words, as they might reveal confidential information. You’d probably not be able to read my handwriting anyway, but I won’t take any risks.
I’ll start this tradition with a doodle I drew back in June 2015.
Here it is: