How to Get the Most Out of Your Work Day

Last newsletter I shared my new Kickass Guide to Productivity tool with you. This week I want to give you the Guide Version 2 as well as my top tips for getting the most out of the tool (and therefore your day…and therefore your LIFE!).

Version Deux is a PDF you can fill out digitally so if printing and writing isn’t your thing, you’ve still got a way to use this Productivity Guide.

To go along with this tasty PDF Version, I also want to share 4 tips to get the most out of the tool.

Plan Ahead: Take 5 minutes at the end of your day to plan your next morning’s routine and at least one topic for your Focus Sessions. My expert tip: I have a PDF version saved with my morning routine, start time, and what I’m grateful for already filled out. Then I save it as a new version with the date and at least one Focus Session filled in.

Use A Timer: Simple but effective. If I don’t set a timer for my focus time or my break time, I lose track and the tool immediately loses its power for me. The concept of being hyper focused for a designated period of time and knowing I’ll get a break at the end is what makes this thing work so well. If you just keep working or lose track of time, pretty soon it’s 4:30 and you’re on Instagram again…

Keep a Scrap List Nearby: If you’re like me, the moment you sit down and start to get into a project, something “urgent” pops into your mind. Instead of gratifying the urge to take care of it and get that instant gratification you’re craving, jot it down on a scrap piece of paper and take care of it during a break or once you’ve completed 4 Focus Sessions.

And Finally…Iterate: And yes, I’m using a fancy buzzword to mean don’t be hard on yourself. If you find yourself getting distracted or not getting finished in the time you set for yourself, it’s okay. That’s what the bottom of the sheet is for, to reflect and think about how to improve…then do it! Make two Focus Sessions on the same project, or make it a longer Session next time.

If you want this tool RIGHT NOW, sign up for my newsletter and you'll get a secret link to download both versions of the Guide for free!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This week I’m back home working on video projects and supporting discussions on mental health for youth and children. But after a week in Las Vegas at ConEXPO, I wanted to share a graphic recording wall complete after a day talking with folks about solutions they’re seeking and trends they’re excited about in the industry.

Introducing...A Kickass Visual Guide to Productivity Just for You!

Happy Wednesday, people!

This week I’m delighted to share with you a productivity tool I’ve been working on and refining this year for a very special group of people. People who think critically and creatively, who care about others in their lives, and who want to make this world a better place through their unique gifts and contributions.

Yep, I’m talking about YOU!

As a creative freelancer, I’m my own boss. Which is phenomenal in many ways, but it does mean that nobody else is there to hold me accountable or be an accountability buddy. I mean, Moxie does try to help, but tends to lose interest or fall asleep when I try to get feedback from her.

So, as a result of working from a home office and having some very productive days, and some not-so-productive days, I’ve been checking out focus and time management tools from successful business people and beta testing them to see how they work for me.

One theme I’ve seen is that breaking work into chunks helps me stay focused. Just doing one project, even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time, and writing down things that pop into my mind to take care of later, rather than jumping from task to task. Another is to take time to appreciate what you’re grateful for – whether or not it’s directly related to work or the project. Then there’s always the principle of learning from your mistakes – learning from what didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. But I’d take it one step further, and suggest that it’s also important to learn from what DID go well too, and do more of that! And finally, giving yourself time to relax and refresh between intense focused periods. For many people, taking some time to move around is an integral part of processing information and improving memory!

So this week I’m going to share with you a tool I’ve adapted from the work of other entrepreneurs and thought leaders and given a visual spin.

And I’d like to ask you a favor: Will you help me make it better? If you use this tool, will you let me know what you love and what you’d like to see changed to improve it? Iterative design, my friends…iterative design. And the collective brain power, experience and critical thinking of this group is exactly the ticket, I think!

*Right click to download!

 

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Currently: Las Vegas, Nevada for CONEXPO! I’m here with Gates Safety illustrating expo attendees’ big ideas, concerns and solutions…right before their eyes!

Gates Safety ConExpo Graphic Recording

I’m also tickled to share the newest Video from my studio. This one is for the CSU Alumni Association, and I’m proud to say it’s the first video I’ve produced from script to final edits!

Cactus Secrets

Hello!

I’m writing to you from New Mexico, on my way to Santa Fe to graphic record for the New Mexico Allied Council on Tobacco focusing on tobacco use prevention, especially for young folks.

Here in New Mexico the landscape looks pretty harsh and barren, yet plants and animals that have adapted to this arid land not only live, but thrive where others cannot.

This week I’ll show you how I draw a cactus, and while you’re doodling this little character, I encourage you to think about your niche. How do you thrive in situations other might find difficult or impossible? What traits or skills have you developed over time that give you an edge, even when the going gets tough? Think about who you are and what makes you unique that you can share not only to set yourself apart from the rest, but even more so to share and inspire those around you.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Last week I headed out to San Diego to do some graphic facilitating for a small group focusing on their collaborative design-build process and client engagement. It was one of the single longest charts I’ve ever created. We mapped the big picture steps, the tools used along the way, and when and where the clients are involved in the process. I’m always amazed at how large, complex systems can be visualized and made more clear to those in the room.

Last week I headed out to San Diego to do some graphic facilitating for a small group focusing on their collaborative design-build process and client engagement. It was one of the single longest charts I’ve ever created. We mapped the big picture steps, the tools used along the way, and when and where the clients are involved in the process. I’m always amazed at how large, complex systems can be visualized and made more clear to those in the room.

5 Insights from 5 Years in Business: Happy Birthday ConverSketch!

ConverSketch turns 5 tomorrow! I enjoyed reflecting last year on my top 4 Wisdom Nuggets from 4 Years, so this year it’s baaaaaaack as 5 Insights from 5 Years in Business.

1.       Trust yourself and the Universe. I’ve found through trial and error that trusting my gut instincts really is worthwhile. If you have a big or small decision to make, learning to trust your intuition can save you time and energy. If something doesn’t work out how you expected, try asking yourself “What can I learn from this?”

2.       Focus on what you want…Be very clear with yourself on this one, because I know from experience what I focus on is what I attract to myself. There is no right answer here. Some people want to work hard, hustle and build an enterprise. Some want a small business they can run from anywhere. Some people want the flexibility to work at 2 am when a stroke of brilliance strikes and not have to show up at 8 am. Whatever it is, be clear with yourself and others.

3.       …then actually DO it. Often it doesn’t take much time to get a significant amount done on a project. Research shows that checking email compulsively can actually have a negative impact on your IQ and creativity. I personally have found that not checking email first thing, and instead setting aside some morning time to do something creative, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, helps set the tone for the rest of the day. Dedicating a chunk of time to focus solely on one project without distractions, then giving yourself a mental break can help you get heaps done before noon! More on this and a tool I’m testing to help you in the next email (insert mental image of me rubbing hands together with anticipation).

4.       Be authentic. As a graphic facilitator, it can be easy to slip into an overly formal relationship with clients. I’ve found that being myself, cracking jokes while also honoring the vulnerability and dignity of the people I’m guiding through a process helps them be more real with each other and get more real work done. Please remember…YOU are a GIFT to this world. Nobody else can do the things you do the way you do them.

5.       Maintain an attitude of gratitude. I think this is foundational to the success of anything a person does. When I’m rooted in a space of appreciation, I find that’s when the Flow happens – creativity, business, generosity from others…The most beautiful thing is, there is no limit to the amount of gratitude you can feel and share!

I’m so grateful for each of you. I love reading your emails and reflections, answering other questions and sharing resources. Without you, my fabulous clients and conspirators, ConverSketch wouldn’t be much of anything!

Click on the image to see the larger version.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Ready for an authentic, trusting, action-oriented, gratitude-filled session of graphic recording?!
 

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

After Kenya, 2017 has been off to a rockin' start. I've had the pleasure of creating and implementing graphic facilitation processes for clients and taught a two-day intensive facilitation course for graduate students in natural resources here in Fort Collins. I'm also at varying stages of video production for the CSU Alumni Association, the National Park Service Climate Change Response Program, the WiRe wildfire research team and others. Next stop: San Diego!

Checking In With You

I'm facing a really nice conundrum here. I'm up to my eyes in projects: multiple videos, live graphic recording and facilitating events, and teaching a one credit facilitation workshop to graduate students at CSU.

Which means I need to take some of my own advice and prioritize to get stuff done...so this email is short. I didn't want to leave you hanging, so I wanted to check in, let you know that I'm thinking about you all, and I'll be back in February with your regularly scheduled wit, wisdom and sketchiness. And this February in particular has some big stuff going on for ConverSketch, so stay tuned!

In the mean time, if you're looking for some new tunes to keep you groovin' and in the Productivity Zone, check out Radio Garden -- you can tune to any radio station worldwide and stream what they've got going on!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

You're busy too. So let's make life easy and schedule a time to talk about your projects.
 

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This winter I had the honor of co-leading a volunteer trip to Kenya through Colorado State University's Alternative Breaks program. This was my fifth time in Samburu, Kenya and each time my heart overflows with appreciation, love, laughter and strength that just radiates from the women and youth at Unity Village and the surrounding community. Here I am with little Karina, who's about 3 now. Interested in learning how educating young women and men can change a community for the better? Ask me about the Samburu Youth Education Fund, a non-profit run for the community, by the community.

Reflection & Vision - A Custom Tool to Help You Design Your Life

Hello and Happy Holidays friends!

I hope so far yours have been filled with laughter, light, and lots of merriment.

It’s wild to think that this will be the last email to you all in 2016. Last year at this time I wrote about the power of having a clear vision for the next year(s), and how I like to create a Vision Board each New Year. I’ll definitely be taking some time to be intentional, plan and set goals for 2017.

One thing we may not take enough time to do for ourselves is to look back and appreciate what we’ve accomplished. Making time to think about what I’ve done helps keep me energized. In the day-to-day, it’s easy to be caught up in what’s next, what didn’t get done, which graphic recording or video client I need to communicate with, what deadline is around the corner. It’s all important. And so is wrapping your head around what you’ve finished, nailed, achieved, sailed beyond, and rocked. Reflection can also be a time to learn from your year – things often go differently than we plan and sitting with and open mind and reflecting on what you’d do differently helps you improve and refine your work.

So go ahead, pour yourself some tea (or wine) and take some time to reflect on what you’re proud of in 2016, and visualize the year ahead. I’ve created this custom, printable template to help you get started, or feel free to create your own from scratch!

Right click then select download to save and print your own!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Want to create a beautiful, visual plan of action for 2017 with your team? Click the button to find out how we can work together to create a vision and strategies that you'll actually want to look at every day.
 

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

As you read this, I’ll be on the first leg of a two-week trip to Samburu, Kenya. This will be my fifth time taking students from Colorado State University to a rural community where we’ll be helping Unity Women’s Village with whatever small building project they need, teaching in schools, listening to students’ stories who are attending high school through scholarships, and discussing conservation with young girls in the community. Mostly though, we’ll be learning, building relationships, and thinking about some of the world’s most intense challenges: poverty, access to health care, women’s rights, access to clean water, culture and technology, equality…the list goes on. We will have irregular internet access so thanks in advance for your patience until January 13. To keep friends and families in the loop, the students be posting stories and photos to this blog most days. Happy New Year!

You've Got The Power!

This time of year is all about giving. And while it can be overwhelming between the list of presents, party hosting, wrapping up work and spending time with loved ones, remember that you always have a gift to share. And it doesn’t cost a thing! In fact, you’ll probably benefit from the whole thing too.

Never underestimate the power of a smile or a kind word.

Whether it’s to a stranger on the street, the folks you work with every day, or the person returning grocery carts from the parking lot to the front of the store, a smile or saying something nice can make a world of difference. And it costs nothing. And you’ll feel better too. Win/Win/Win.

My father-in-law does this really well – he always has a funny quip and a kind word for people who tend to be over-looked. I love watching these interactions because sometimes it takes people a moment to realize he’s joking with them, but they always end up with a big grin on their faces.

So, this month while it’s tempting to be caught up in your own stress or to be grumpy that you have to wait in long lines, try turning that frown upside-down and giving a word of praise or appreciation, and see if you can create a ripple effect around you.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Need someone to help your team see just how much you've accomplished this year & then give high fives about it? Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic recording magic.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Last week I got to spend an afternoon with leaders across the City of Fort Collins to talk about how to move beyond boundaries to work better together. Onward!

Four Tools Guaranteed to Send Your Team into Decision-Making Bliss

I hope this finds all you folks in the US happy and rested after the Thanksgiving holiday.

My last newsletter focused on suspending judgement while brainstorming to facilitate innovation and creativity, with a promise to follow up this week with ideas to help you or your team make decisions and select the best ideas to move forward with. Okay, maybe you won’t end up completely blissed out if you use these ideas, but at least you’ll have a darn clear picture of what’s important to your team. Which is pretty much the same thing, right?

A graphic recorder can often visually reflect where there is energy or consensus in the group through the illustrations they create, but what if you don’t have a graphic recorder, or the group is having a difficult time deciding?

My first step is usually to have the group create Clusters. When brainstorming, I like to have participants write ideas on sticky notes – one per note – and post them on a wall. This makes it easy to move the ideas around into different themes or categories, which can then simplify or reduce the number of items you need to decide on or prioritize. Be sure to clearly delineate and name the clusters.

Great, now we have a ton of awesome clusters. What now? Now, my friend, you have options (ironic, more decisions for you to make).  Here are some of my favorite decision-making and prioritization techniques, in no particular order, and with endless opportunities to tweak to fit your needs or group.

1.       The Dot Vote: A Classic. Chances are, you’ve used this at least once in your life…If the words “dot vote” make you want to run screaming from the room or throw the device you’re reading this on against a wall, please move on to Idea 2 immediately. However, it’s used often for a reason; it’s quick, can be used in groups of all sizes, and forces people to make tough choices. I usually give people multiple dot stickers so they can give their votes some weight: if you really love an idea, put as many dots on it as you’d like. If you are interested in several, spread your dots around. The caveat is that dot voting might mean an idea that will more heavily affect a minority of the group might get overlooked, even with weighted dot voting.

2.       Five Finger Vote: A la OGSystems Visioneers. This is another quick, weighted voting technique. After generating a list of clusters or key ideas to vote on, discuss them to be sure participants understand each one. Go through them one by one and ask participants to hold up fingers for each as follows:

0: Strong Preference Against (could not accept this idea)

1: Preference Against (accepting this idea would be a compromise to better alternatives)

2: Casual Preference Against (could accept this idea, but other alternatives are just as good)

3: Casual Preference For (could accept this idea, no better alternatives)

4: Preference For (would support this idea, and not prefer another idea)

5: Strong Preference For (could not support another idea)

Count the total for each option – the idea with the highest number of votes is the winner.

3.       Selection Chart: Another Classic. When I need something more analytical and number oriented, creating a chart with options on the left column and criteria for ranking across the top can be useful. Decide on a scale for weight (i.e. 1-5, 5 being most important), and go through each option and give each criterion a number based on how important it is. Again, add up the scores for each option and you’ll get a winner and see distribution of importance. Bonus: You can do this individually first, then come together to discuss patterns or differences across the group.

4.       Decision Trees (for inspiration & humor try this one): A la Dan Roam. Start with an important question, such as “Is dropping our price a good option?”. From there, ask and draw another, related question like “Is our market price sensitive?” decide yes/no, and if yes, ask another question, such as “How is our price relative to our competitor?”. If no, try another option since price isn’t a factor. And so on.

Now get out there and make a blissful Selection Chart to decide which of these tools you’ll use next time your team needs to make a decision.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Need someone to help your team make some decisions...then actually move forward together? Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic recording magic.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

I'm proud to announce a new explainer video is out in the world thanks to the new One Health Institute at Colorado State University! Click the image above to learn how CSU's Dr. John Spencer is partnering with researchers and practitioners in Brazil to work toward ending leprosy!

One Question You Can Ask to Unleash the Creative Potential of Your Team

Howdy folks –

I’m writing this as I travel through high country towns and windswept mountain passes down to Durango, Colorado to graphic facilitate a workshop to help a client develop a series of explainer videos.

This interdisciplinary team is comprised of researchers and practitioners who are all experts in their own right, and approach the work they do from different perspectives and backgrounds. They have different needs that they want to share in this video series, and yet will need to work collaboratively in this one day intensive retreat to agree on video content, who will be watching and how to create authentic connections with them, and what path the story will take.

That’s a lot of decisions to be making as a group. I mean, sometimes it’s hard enough to make decisions on your own. However, there’s an important step to encourage the group to take before we get into critical thinking and decision-making, which many groups overlook or rush through.

The Brainstorm. It’s easy for groups to share more obvious ideas, or things that have been brought up time and again. But how can you encourage your team to move beyond the easy and into the territory of Transformational?

It’s a simple question but requires careful curating.

Ask your team to suspend judgement while brainstorming.

To do this well, you’ve got to create an environment where people feel safe sharing half-finished ideas that aren’t perfect (let’s be honest, most ideas aren’t perfect the first time they’re shared, even if we think they are). Where someone can share a seemingly outrageous idea and instead of immediately looking for what’s wrong with it, others ask how they can support or build on it. You need to build in and allow time for people to shrug off their scratchy customary habits of critiquing, and to slip into something a little more fun; a space of curiosity. Allowing for White Space, for intentionally less-structured time and not immediately jumping in as a leader. Suspending judgement is the key.

Still curious about decision-making? Asking yourself “Okay, I’d have all these great ideas from my team…what next?” That’s what the next ConverSketch email will be all about how to turn that creativity into clear priorities and make solid decisions that everyone will stand behind.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

I'm down in Durango, Colorado this week to help a team develop the heart and audiences for a video series before we leap into script writing and story boarding. Here's a template we'll fill out as a group to refine and agree on ideas.

I'm down in Durango, Colorado this week to help a team develop the heart and audiences for a video series before we leap into script writing and story boarding. Here's a template we'll fill out as a group to refine and agree on ideas.

An artist, a scientist and an entrepreneur walk into a bar…

Hello!

Thanks to everyone who shared feedback on my last email. Based on what I heard, this week I’ll return to your regularly scheduled insights & drawing tips. My goal with these emails is to equip you with tools to spark ideas and creativity, so as always, if there are things you’d like to hear about or have been yearning to draw, please let me know!

When was the last time you laughed? Almost certainly it was with other people, and likely not even at a joke. It turns out that laughter is something we as humans use to bond with each other, rather than something we learn. This means it’s actually an instinct, and one that makes us feel closer with one another. Plus, it helps relieve stress and often improves your mood.

So, laughter can help us build great teams. But let’s be real here. Laughter isn’t something you can manufacture or fake, we know when it’s not genuine.

How can you create a space that inspires more laughs, and therefore more synergy between you and your team?

Try adopting a playful mentality. One way to cultivate this is with doodles and drawings. Approaching things from a place of playful curiosity tends to lead to a more optimistic and laughter-prone conversation.  The next time you find yourself tensing up and getting ready to defend something, see if you can take a moment, relax your shoulders, and ask yourself if you could take a more playful approach.

“Smile. It makes people wonder what you’re up to.” - Anonymous
 

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina



You've got the team, I've got the markers. Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of visual storytelling humor & magic.
 

Where in the World is ConverSketch

Research in Action! Last week I got to graphic record stories and insights from researchers at CU Anschutz Medical Campus who had spent a week immersed in two communities around Denver. They built relationships and heard needs and perspectives from people in historically underprivileged groups about how medical research could be better done and shared in their neighborhoods.