4 min read

Productivity Can (and Should) Be Fun

I was extremely excited about 5 or 6 years ago when I discovered there was a whole community of people who were practicing something called Sketchnoting, a way of taking notes that combines handwritten text and simple drawings and imagery. I loved drawing as a kid, and to find out there was a simple way for me to bring drawing into my software development job was an amazing revelation.

I did Sketchnotes for all my note taking for awhile, but then I got bit by the perfectionism bug. I got hung up on what my notes looked like rather than the value they were providing to me. I lost sight of the reasons why I started Sketchnoting in the first place, which was to explore and share ideas. I fell out of the habit of Sketchnoting and reverted back to text based bullet lists. Note taking no longer gave me the joy it had when I first started Sketchnoting.

Recently, as I’ve been revisiting and sharing old Sketchnotes, I was reminded of how much fun it was to make them. I decided to start Sketchnoting again, but only digitally because I wanted to be able to edit my Sketchnotes afterward. I didn’t want there to be mistakes, which was only perpetuating the issue of perfection that had stopped me from Sketchnoting in the first place.

I had to be reminded by my brilliant, amazing wife that the reason I was doing Sketchnoting was because it was fun and enjoyable for me to do. If trying to make perfect Sketchnotes was more stressful than fun, why was I bothering to do it? She was totally right (as always), so I went and pulled out a pocket notebook and did a quick, analog Sketchnote. And you know what? It was fun! I actually appreciated the fact that I didn’t have the ability to edit because it allowed me to just experience the joy of creating.

I think the same thing goes for a productivity system: it should be fun and enjoyable to use. If it’s not, then it’s not something we’re going to continue using. Incorporating Sketchnoting into my system makes it more enjoyable for me, so I’m going to keep doing it.

Something I suggest for all of us to try is to take something we enjoy doing and experimenting on how we can incorporate it into our productivity system. As an example, if you like games, you could turn your daily task list into a game by giving yourself rewards or achievements for completing a set number of items. You can increase the number of items each time to get to the next reward.

Adding some fun to your productivity system will help motivate you to get through those tasks and make the process much more enjoyable. And please be sure to share your experiments in the comments or email me at brennan@creadevlabs.com! I’d love to see what creative ways in which people are improving their productivity systems.

Tip of the Week:

Having a reliable method of capturing ideas, notes, and tasks is a critical piece of an effective productivity system. Whatever your capturing mechanism is, it should be as simple and frictionless as possible. Thoughts come and go so quickly, so being able to capture things quickly is essential. Having something as simple as a piece of paper and pen, or having the default notes app on your phone open and ready are great ways to get started.

What I’m Reading / Watching / Listening to:

Video: How to Tell Stories with Sketchnotes

Sketchnoting is becoming an integral part of my content creation, and the best content usually tells some sort of story. As demonstrated in this video, Sketchnoting can be an effective storytelling tool, one I plan to utilize in upcoming blog articles and YouTube videos.

Video: Chapter by Chapter Sketchnoting

Sketchnoted book summaries are something I’ve just started doing on a weekly basis on CreaDev Labs. I’m Sketchnoting two different books right now, one I’ve already read and have text based notes on, and one I’m still in the process of reading. I’m getting two different experiences by doing this. One of the books I’ve already got the notes, so I can jump straight into each Sketchnote. With the other book I’m doing a rough Sketchnote as I read through the chapter, then I do a more polished version after I’m finished. By doing these different approaches at the same time, I’ll be able to quickly see which one I like better.

Video: Sketchnoting Journal: One Idea Per Day

I recently purchased a pocket notebook, and this is the perfect idea for what to use it for. It fits in with my overall desire to have a personal knowledge management system full of Sketchnotes rather than typed text (more info on my experimentation with a Sketchnote based personal knowledge management forthcoming).

What’s New on CreaDev Labs:


Experiment: Separate Work and Personal Task Management


The Path to Perfect Productivity is Experimentation (and You!)

Book Summaries

Summary of The Bullet Journal Method: Introduction

Questions or comments? Please send me an email at brennan@creadevlabs.com

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