A Simple & Surprising Trick to Make Your Ideas Crystal Clear

Hey hey, it's Wednesday!

And you know what that means...time to get your weekly dose of Visual.

This week's trick to clarify ideas is using white space intentionally. 

What comes to mind for you when you hear "white space"? For me, two things pop up. 
1) Mental clarity
2) More literally, intentionally leaving part of a graphic recording or painting untouched

I find that when I give myself time to clear my mind or step away from a project, even if it's just a few minutes, I'm then able to come back to it with more clarity and focus. And it turns out I'm not alone in that...here's an article from Fast Company about practicing mindfulness even when it feels like you don't have time.

In art, white space can be used to draw the viewer's attention to what is most important. In graphic facilitation, I find using white space helps the audience see the flow of information clearly, and makes the drawing less overwhelming when lots of information is being presented. 

Often when I'm working live graphic recording gigs, there will be so much fascinating and important information zooming around, before I know it my paper is filled to the edges. It is a continuous and conscientious practice to be sure I'm capturing what's most important and not over-crowding the chart. 

How can you use or create white space to be more effective and creative at work?

Here are some ideas for the office...
- Think you're all on the same page? MAKE SURE...write it down, draw some boxes and arrows, then leave some white space on the page so people can add, or by waiting a moment before speaking again to allow time for people to process, react, etc. This is often when the most creative or powerful idea emerge, when we allow a moment before responding (note to self...remember this!).
- If you're working collaboratively, leave a space in your document or iPad sketch to allow yourselves to add to later...who knows what new experiences might happen tomorrow or in the 5 minutes after the meeting that could illuminate a new path or idea!

If you feel like there are too many things flying around your mind to be able to focus, try...
- Taking at least five minutes to meditate -- sit quietly and focus on your breathing or take a stroll outside and try to count how many different bird songs you hear.
- Do a "brain dump" by writing down EVERYTHING that comes to mind. You can create a mind map, a list or just write stream of consciousness until everything is out.
- Grab an adult coloring book and spend some time in the zone. Don't have one? See the drawing below for some DIY ideas!

Remember to give yourself some white space so you can be crystal clear on what's most important for you, your team or your family...and sneak some creativity in to supercharge your day. 

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, share this with someone you think would enjoy some white space!

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 did an annual "Facilitation 101" training with undergraduate students in an environmental conflict management course at CSU. We focused on tools and techniques the students could use in stakeholder engagement processes as they move beyond their education and into internships and jobs in the environmental field. 

A Week of Giving Back


This week has been about giving back. It started off doing some graphic recording for Colorado State University's Center for Public Deliberation as students facilitated an event for the City of Fort Collins' new initiative to plan for green space in the city in the future called Nature in the City. The folks running the project solicited input from city leaders on what kinds of parks, green spaces, and wildlife habitat were most visually appealing to them and why, to guide the planning process.

Students share their map of a conservation collaborative.

Students share their map of a conservation collaborative.

I also had the opportunity to be a guest teacher in three classes at Colorado State University this week teaching about graphic recording, visual thinking and participatory decision-making. Working with both graduate and undergraduate students focusing on Conservation Leadership and collaborative conservation, I shared my thoughts on how visual thinking can be a useful tool when working with diverse groups and complex situations.

The students blew me away with their willingness to jump in with both feet and a rainbow palette of markers to process the projects they are working on. Many of the graduate students will be traveling internationally next spring to partner with agencies across the globe to help research and implement conservation work.

Conservation Leadership through Learning students discussing their program and projects.

Conservation Leadership through Learning students discussing their program and projects.

Additionally, I'm delighted to do some drawing for the FoCo Cafe, a pay-what-you-can restaurant rooted in local food, building community, sharing stories and meals, and every person should be treated with dignity. Here's a "before" snapshot of the large chalk boards that will show and describe how the FoCo Cafe works. Stay tuned for updates on the final product!

Donated chalk boards -- before!

Donated chalk boards -- before!

...and after! With Jeff, co-founder of the FoCo Cafe! Soon they will be hanging above the counter. 

...and after! With Jeff, co-founder of the FoCo Cafe! Soon they will be hanging above the counter.