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How Drawing Reveals the ‘Best’ You: A Checklist with Book Recommendations

Since the time I picked up drawing a few years ago, I began to notice the areas of my life the habit of ‘drawing’ has positively influenced. I was pretty amazed by the benefits of drawing and got in front of my trusty laptop to share it with you all.

I know a lot of people would FREAK OUT at the prospect of sketching. Me and sketch?  You mean like draw?  Like pretty shapes on paper?  You so gotta be kidding me!  I wouldn’t know how to hold a pencil…let alone DRAW!

Look no one expects you to produce masterpieces.

So for a moment let us silence our inner resistance – the one between our ears.

All I want you to do is keep an open mind and read this post right to the end. And if any tip resonates with you, implement it in your life one baby step at a time.

Sounds doable right? Great! Let’s go…….

 #1: Put Sherlock to shame

Who would have thought that drawing can sharpen your sense of observation?

But it does so.

When I started drawing I always thought that to get better I had to improve my strokes. It’s only later I realized that 50% of getting better is about being be a better observer. As a sketcher you need to keenly observe the angle of the light, the play of shadows, the grooves and the valleys.

From still life to busy street views….for an artist the beauty is in the details.  Regular sketching will just make you more ‘keen’ when it comes to noticing things.

Leonardo Da Vinci dissected hundreds of corpses to get his images of the human body just right. And he said, “Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eye; that is to say, darkness, light, body and colour, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.”

You observe stuff and it is processed by the left side of the brain. This processed information then allows us to act or react.

When we draw, this processed information is sent to the right side of the brain which then translates it into something creative, into art.

So both hemispheres end up working together and, according to scientists, this is a very powerful exercise to boost IQ. The interesting work ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ explains right-left co-ordination and is an interesting read.

 #2: Solve like Einstein

One of the best books that I’ve read, that explains the usefulness of sketching is ‘On the back of the Napkin’ by Dan Roam. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he actually suggested a process called ‘visual thinking’ to solve all kinds of what, when, how and why problems more creatively.

When you are stuck for a solution, it helps to pull out a pen and paper and start drawing.

We humans are wired for stories. When we see separate entities, our brain scrambles to come up with connections to give the whole thing some context! Using the frameworks in the book you’ll have an answer that would have been difficult to arrive at before.

Drawing to solve problems

Different Doodles for Different Problems


 #3: Be a super learner

Ben Casanocha notes on this blog “if you want to identify the most senior, knowledgeable people in an audience, look for the people who are taking notes and asking questions.” Some of the greatest minds in history like Edison & Da Vinci were notetakers.

Efficient learning involves remarkable note-taking and accurate recall. Drawing incidentally can help with both components of being a ‘superb’ learner.

Sketchnoting to express:

Sketchnoting has been popularized by designer Mike Rhode in the ‘The Sketchnote Handbook’ and is simple as well as entertaining.

It encourages you to summarize something long, boring or difficult to express using a mish-mash of doodles and text. You thus waste less time taking ‘blah’ notes and instead take visual notes that are crisp & easy to refer back to. The example below shows the fears and apprehensions of the creator about his pending thyroid surgery.

A sketchnote drawing to express worries

A Touching Sketch-Note to Express Worries

 Mindmapping to remember

 Mindmapping (something I use all the time) is the process of associating several ideas with a core concept. Developed by Tony Buzan mind-maps are used all over the world, from classrooms to boardrooms.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? By all the data you need to cram in your head? If you are a student, I am sure you are nodding pretty enthusiastically.

Well mind maps allow you to jot down data and the connections between the information bites. This helps you remember the complete picture easily. And yes, you got it right. It is amazing for brainstorming sessions as well.


Mind map to represent ideas and connections

A Fruity Mind-Map on Connected Ideas!


Both ‘sketchnotes’ and ‘mindmaps’ rely on the fact that visual data is processed 60,000 times faster than text and audio.

 #4: Get in touch with inner peace

Finally drawing can teach us important lessons of mindfulness and being in the present. It forces your busy mind to slow down. It forces you to concentrate on the blank paper and your chosen subject. It literally takes you away from the worries of that exam, that EMI or that customer.

Many people face resistance when it comes to drawing because they believe they must be artists in order to ‘draw’.

That is not true!

If your doodles please the public- great! However if they don’t, it shouldn’t deter you from this pleasing, effective and beneficial exercise. Implement it in different areas of your life and see the difference.

Have you ever tried any of these drawing techniques to improve your life and work? Let me know in the comments below.





Doodles Image is attributed to Crosscollaborate

The Thyroid Sketchnote is attributed to UX Mastery

The Fruits Mind Map is attributed to LearnEnglishteens

Be Brutally Honest – Ramit Sethi

I’ve recently been reading Ramit Sethi’s blog.

One of his advice I’ve been using is “Be Brutally Honest”.

Here’s how this advice helped me recently. I’ve been delaying creating Kindle versions of my Sufi Comics books.  I would give the usual excuses:

“I don’t have time”
“This is going to be difficult”
“It’s too much work”

But these were surface level excuses. When I became brutally honest with myself, I found the real reason for procrastinating was spending too much time on low priority tasks.

I cut down on some of those tasks and made a simple next action of doing one thing ie posting a job requirement on odesk.

Within a week from that date, the Kindle books were done!  Wow, something that I was procrastinating for more than a year, got done is less than a week.

If you like Ramit Sethi’s blog, I’d recommend his SuccessTriggers course.

Sketches at delhi airport