Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

We Should Really Quit "Paying Attention"

I'm a doodler. Actually, its more much more than that. I realized in college the major advantages to visual processing. For example, I used to study for tests by writing information out, long hand, over and over again. No shortcuts, no abbreviations, just writing over and over. I would blow through notebook after notebook (especially in music history), but I found it really worked. I had to study for significantly less time to achieve the same results. This same tactic carried over into my work as well. As I began my career in the audio/video industry, I would often bid on systems designed by others. I found that if I took the time to re-draw the system schematics I gained a significantly deeper understanding of the work and made far fewer mistakes. When I started at CCC a few years ago I had my office walls covered in whiteboards. These days I process almost everything on my walls - that is, in writing, drawings, pictures, and sketches. So, I'm a doodler.

Big deal, right? Maybe it's "just me". Maybe I'm just a "visual learner". Possibly - or possibly there is something to this. Fun fact for you, research shows that those who doodle increase their comprehension by 20%! We're not talking a group of self proclaimed "visual learners" here, we are talking people in general. Here's another fun thing about this type of processing, it's more than just visual. Writing something down or drawing a picture not only forces you to process the information in your own terms, it also engages both the visual and the tactile at the same time. Further, drawing and doodling can also lead to an emotional experience which further cements the data.

I've been in a lot of meetings where we are asked to "pay attention", meaning just sit and listen. What a waste! Given the opportunity to process the information in real time, we gain so much more. Further, how much more productive might our brainstorming meetings be if people where actually processing and working the information as it was discussed. So I say forget "paying attention"! Bring your laptops, iPads, notebooks, cell phones, and start processing. Take notes, draw pictures, search the web, read related articles, blog, whatever it takes to help you digest the information and make meaningful links and connections. That's what's important, isn't it?

This is a brief 6 minute TEDx video by Sunni Brown , who is an expert on this subject. I find it fascinating and I think it should revolutionize the way we run meetings and process information.


Voice Dictation Notes for Google Docs