creative

Overwhelm? Strategies to Overcome!

We’ve all felt it - this time of year can be simultaneously wonderful and stressful. Between wrapping up presents and wrapping up projects, planning parties and planning the next year’s strategies, it’s not hard to slip down the slope of feeling overwhelmed.

This exact thing happened to me last night, and I found myself worked up and worried I was missing important to-dos.

I wanted to share with you a few of the strategies I used last night, and a few more that you can mix and match to overcome that feeling of overwhelm, so you can focus on the slippery snowboard/ski/sledding slope instead.

  • Write down everything you’re stressed about or that’s floating around in your mind. Work, personal life, projects, people to call, gifts to give. You can sort it into categories if you want to, or just go for it and get everything down. Often seeing it on paper shows me there’s less going on than I think before I start writing, or some of it isn’t as big a deal as I’ve been making it in my head.

  • Next, write down everything you’re appreciative of or thankful for. Again, just start somewhere and write until you’ve gotten everything out you can possibly think of to be grateful for. I find that when I take a moment to appreciate all of the amazing things that are happening, whether it’s the fact that my heart beats without me having to think about it or for someone who did something unexpectedly kind, this practice is a powerful tool to shift my entire energy. I might even do a little abunDANCE.

  • Now that you’re feeling clear about exactly what’s on your plate and you’re feeling pretty great about this crazy thing we call life, you can come back to that list. I like to pick three things that are priorities and I can work on right now.

  • Set a timer and crank! Length depends, but I like to focus for 42 minutes, then take a break for 18 minutes - here’s a post about my strategy for using the timer and a couple other favorite productivity tools.

  • Walk away (then come back). Sometimes after making a list of everything I’ve got going on, I need to step away and clear my mind. Exercising, stretching, watering plants, meditating, whatever to get yourself in a physically new space to be able to let go for a bit. Then, once the mind is refreshed, coming back and making a plan of attack is a little easier.

  • Finally, be kind to yourself. You’re human, and a damn fine one at that. You work hard, but remember also to give yourself time to refresh. You’re generous with others, so do yourself the favor of being generous with yourself too.

conversketch_abun-dance

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?

On Vacation!  I took last week completely off and spent time with my partner and family. :D

On Vacation! I took last week completely off and spent time with my partner and family. :D

In the Studio:  Filming a  video  about enjoying our national parks safely in hot weather.

In the Studio: Filming a video about enjoying our national parks safely in hot weather.

ConverSketch is Six!

This week marks the sixth year since ConverSketch first came into the world wielding markers, chalks and insights.

Each year I enjoy putting together some of the top lessons or patterns emerging in my world (here’s the link to last year’s, and the year before that). This year I’m taking a slightly different approach, sharing insights and areas I intend to explore more in the coming months.

Three of my biggest insights this year:

  • Cultivate Intuition. Whether it’s trusting I know what’s most important to capture while graphic recording or making decisions on which direction to take my business, I know that listening to my intuition leads me to where I need to be. This is a consistent thread I find myself returning to over and over again.
  •  I’m a Thought Partner. More than only a fun diversion at a conference, I have found most joy and positive impact with my clients when I approach the work as a Thought Partner bringing deep value to their team and goals.
  • Relationship-Building for Success. This year in particular highlighted several groups who were new, forming, or had never worked together in person. Hosting an off-site or retreat with everyone in the same physical space underlined the power of face-to-face, human connection and relationship-building for successful events.

Three things I want to explore in the next year:

  • Listening Lenses. How can I tune my inner radio to the frequency that will best serve the group? What level of listening is most needed to do that? 
  • Weaving Story. How to I hone my skills to listen for and weave together a visual that will tell the core of the group’s story? How can I better engage with my video clients to ask the questions that will really help them tell the core of their story, and connect with their desired audiences?
  • Systems Scribing. This year I want to practice moving around, listening for different chunks of information, and using the entire sheet to map the system to bring forth connections to serve the group best.

I am in awe of the amazing groups I get to partner with. It is an honor to visualize their ideas, be trusted to listen and hold the energy of the room, and distill it into a visual map that will be carried forward to remind them of the work they’ve done and connections they’ve made.

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 to make your even more meaningful and memorable with some visuals? Let's chat!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Denver  - Last week I had the honor of capturing and holding space for an organization going through some major changes and growing pains. Partnering with a talented and experienced facilitator, I really understood the power the visuals have to help people feel heard, let go, gain clarity about the future, and move on.

Denver - Last week I had the honor of capturing and holding space for an organization going through some major changes and growing pains. Partnering with a talented and experienced facilitator, I really understood the power the visuals have to help people feel heard, let go, gain clarity about the future, and move on.

Newest ConverSketch Illustrated Video – Cabrillo National Monument

This is the second installment of the “Drawing Change” series I’m doing in partnership with the National Park Service Climate Change Response Program. Learn about ocean acidification and how aquatic animals are adapting in a changing ocean.

In the Studio!  This week I’m filming the first of a new series of videos about wildfire risk management and how scientists are using models and aerial maps to help managers plan ahead to more effectively manage wildfires when they do happen.

In the Studio! This week I’m filming the first of a new series of videos about wildfire risk management and how scientists are using models and aerial maps to help managers plan ahead to more effectively manage wildfires when they do happen.

Use This Handy Trick to Get the Hang of Drawing a Face in Profile

One thing that’s always been a challenge to me is drawing faces, and especially…the dreaded profile!

While not altogether needed in most live graphic recording work since I’m focusing on capturing the content high-speed so you can see what you’re talking about, sometimes I find myself wanting to draw a cool perspective, or have a bit more time to do some detail work, and don’t want my cool illustration of your ideas to end up looking like this:

Work by Picasso. Just in case you thought it was mine.

Work by Picasso. Just in case you thought it was mine.

Wait…that’s actually pretty nice…

Anyway, you get the point.

So, I did some research and found this handy little trick to help with where to put all those little features that make up our faces…like eyes and noses.

learn to draw a profile

This is just a beginning guide. Get creative! Experiment with different shapes of noses. What happens if you change the eyebrow ridge above the eyes? What can you do to make it look more male or female? Younger or older? How can you add emotions? Have fun and play with it!

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. Let's talk about your next event that could use a touch of visual storytelling.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Currently: Near Baltimore, Maryland capturing a training on management and communication for the NSA. So yeah, I can't say much about it at this point... Other than it's always a good day when you figure out how to work in the Lion King.

Circles of Life NSA Leadership Training Graphic Recording

Also:

The CSU Center for Public Deliberation is one of the gems that makes Fort Collins unique. I’m fortunate to be a graduate of the student training and continue to be involved as a Community Associate and help out facilitating or graphic recording for various dialogue and deliberative processes they facilitate. Earlier this month they put on a session called Beyond Partisan Politics: The Power of Authentic Engagement. During this session we learned the neuroscience behind why it’s so easy to get trapped in the downward spiral of False Polarization, and tips on how to have a productive conversation, even if you don’t agree with someone. Here’s the graphic recording chart from the evening.

The CSU Center for Public Deliberation is one of the gems that makes Fort Collins unique. I’m fortunate to be a graduate of the student training and continue to be involved as a Community Associate and help out facilitating or graphic recording for various dialogue and deliberative processes they facilitate. Earlier this month they put on a session called Beyond Partisan Politics: The Power of Authentic Engagement. During this session we learned the neuroscience behind why it’s so easy to get trapped in the downward spiral of False Polarization, and tips on how to have a productive conversation, even if you don’t agree with someone. Here’s the graphic recording chart from the evening.

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.

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.

Change Happens. How To Foster A Team That Not Only Survives, But Thrives.

The word “resilience” is popular right now. We’ve worn out “sustainability” and we want to build a business culture that helps our organization stay on the cutting edge. But how many of us think about what resilience really means? Here’s a definition for you:

Resilience: the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and re-organize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks.
 
So, a resilient team can deal with the inevitable and ever-more-frequent changes we experience in life, and get back on track. But is simply getting back to where you were before what you want? Does this sound like an organization that is cutting edge? Isn’t there something more?!

I’m so glad you asked. There’s a brilliant guy named Nassim Nicholas Talib that wrote a little book called Antifragile. Now stay with me here, I see your eyes glazing over at some jargon-y, made-up business word. I promise you this one is worth thinking on. Antifragile is one of those books that is so packed with ideas that make my mind stretch, that I have to take a moment to process each paragraph I read. It’s awesome.

Talib describes the essence of antifragile as the following:

Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better (pp. 433-435).

See what I mean? That is an INCREDIBLY POWERFUL idea. Change hits, and instead of somehow making it back to the way things were before, your team actually improves? Yes, please.

So how can you create a culture of antifragility?

It takes intentional work. Central to building a high-functioning team is good communication. Regular, transparent and open communication nurtures trust, and creates a positive feedback loop of good communication.

Feeling like you’re in a communication rut with your team? Three words for you: Draw. It. Out.

Using drawings, especially simple ones, is a phenomenally useful and fun tool to build a culture of great communication and antifragility. Doodling complex ideas helps you clarify what’s most important and simplify the ideas to more easily explain to others. Inviting other team members to collaborate with you and share what they’re seeing opens eyes to new perspectives, new connections, and create a sense of shared ownership of ideas, which leads to a higher likelihood of action. Even if it looks messy, it’s about the process. It’s about sharing ideas and working together. Then being able to refine and share your story so that when sh*t gets real, everyone knows what the vision is, and feels the confidence to move toward antifragility.

Partnering with a graphic recorder can help you take a step back, think critically about the situation, and give your notes an extra pop of drawing expertise. Or, if you're itching to take the reins (ahem, markers) yourself, getting personalized training from a visual creativity coach can help you take your ideas to the next level. 

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

What do you think about antifragile? Come on over to the blog and share in the comments so others can benefit from your wisdom. 

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

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 don’t have to be an artist to draw out your ideas, but it’s pretty fun to work with one. If you’d like to bring me on for your next event or work with me one-on-one to improve your skills to draw out ideas, let me know by clicking that nice button down there.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Next week I'm headed to Salt Lake City to help them create a visual summary map of what they've been hearing in 1 1/2 years of outreach around ending homelessness in SLC. This drawing is something they can use to help the group is build on what the City has heard from the community, rather than repeating what they know already.

When Can Being Intoxicated Be A Good Thing?

ConverSketch is intoxicated this week. No, last night wasn’t crazy, and , despite working from home, I haven’t started drinking early in the day (that's a joke, people!). I’m talking about a different kind of intoxication, and one that is a lot more productive.

This little post for you is inspired by the following piece by Hugh McLeod of GapingVoid Art.

As Hugh so eloquently puts it: You can be intoxicated by a lot of things. We like possibility.

This concept is nothing new, it’s the foundation of so many successful businesses. But somehow, this unorthodox way of stating a concept that these days often feels brittle and overused keeps me coming back to it. Thinking of possibility as intoxicating, as full of energy, new ideas and connections instead of overwhelming, unclear or unknown. And if you tend to get anxious and overwhelmed, you might enjoy this post on how drawing can help you move through overwhelm.

It's a craft to learn to tap into what you feel the moment you realize there’s a lot more to something than you originally thought. Which electrifies you. Suddenly hours have gone by, and there’s still more energy bubbling up from inside you.

There's a few things that have me intoxicated this week...
- Putting together and beta testing a new offering from ConverSketch to utilize my strengths connecting with and encouraging individuals to cultivate Aha Moments with folks one-on-one.
- Delivering prints of my watercolor paintings to the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and Wolverine Farm Publick House to sell. (Note: The positive feedback I’ve gotten from you all with my painting really blows my mind. Thank you for giving me a resounding high five to continue pursuing and refining my fine art skills!)
- Seeing little vegetable sprouts emerging from tiny little seeds (how miraculous is that!?)

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

What possibilities are intoxicating you right now? Take a moment over a glass of wine or beer and doodle out some possibilities that are as enticing as a nice cool beverage on a warm summer evening.

What might be keeping you from taking a nice, big swig from that cup o’ possibility? What steps can you take THIS WEEK to move toward making it a reality?

Comment below so others can benefit from your wisdom. 

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

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




What possibilities are you exploring with your organization or individually? Click that button to chat with me about how I can help you make it more effective, productive and fun with graphic recording.
 

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Here's a snapshot from a graphic recording at a workshop with CSU's One Health Institute as the team worked with the talented folks at New City to develop a rockin' communication strategy moving forward. People, Animals, Planet. Heck yeah.