Online courses

Like the lion’s share of the Netherlands, I also threw myself into online courses during this Corona-era. And I don’t just mean creating new online courses (stay tuned!), But following them myself. Perhaps it is because a crisis requires us to finally change course. Maybe it’s to get a (false?) sense of control. Anyway: I needed self-development. Productivity courses. Sales. Blogging. Marketing. Basically just any online course in the ‘it-all-will-all-be-okay-and-your-company-will-survive’ category. Maybe you know the feeling. I’ve been streaming and zooming quite a bit these weeks.

Finally really being able to concentrate…

And I love it! It is as if I am finally really open to all good tips I’ve heard before. Apparently a pandemic has that effect on stubbornness …

…but maybe check my DMs first

I just ran into one problem: it was often going way too slow for me. A small side note about how my brain works. And probably yours too. Apparently our brains are easily under stimulated. That sounds really cool now and like saying ‘look-me-once-being hyper-intelligent’, but it really just means that you are always looking for distraction, because you are not occupied enough with the current task. Not to be confused with something like ADD, but simply with the fact that nowadays we are used to switching quickly from one dopamine shot (“oh! An email!”) To the next (“wow, 28 likes!”). Consequence? My friends are immensely irritated by my non-stop texting behavior during a Netflix night, I jump through my to-do list like a wild horse without actually getting anything done, and I fell asleep during lectures during my student days. And no, that was not because of bar-hopping the night before. (Not always;).

Ultimate focus without distraction

So you can imagine my relief when I discovered the “double speed” button on YouTube videos and podcasts. Suddenly I could keep my attention where it belonged. Later, I read in the book Focus ON / OFF by Mark Tigchelaar * (big tip by the way! But I believe it’s only available in Dutch) that this is indeed a very good way to keep your brain occupied just enough to keep it from looking for distractions. Just like fiddling with a paperclip or doodling on the back of an envelope. One will suit you more than the other: speed is really key to me. So I was happy with YouTube videos and podcasts.

Focus during webinars

In come the webinars. Usually you cannot play it any faster. On the contrary, everything often goes a bit slower due to things like a bad connection, questions that have to be sent in and read and here and there a technical issue. All completely understandable and absolutely no issue, but enough to make my fingers crawl back to my phone. However interesting I find the topic. Still, I quickly check my Insta-DMs. And while we’re there, also that last post from that funny account, and – hey – someone sent a video, and … Ehh, how did I get to another quiz about the color of Justin Bieber’s socks?

Live visual drawing in hyper focus

When I noticed during a (very interesting!) Masterclass that my eyes were once again drawn too much to the backyard, I decided to take a different approach. I regularly draw at live events. I then summarize the day on a 5 meter wide paper on the wall, in fast, recognizable doodles and texts. Listening, summarizing, and coming up with a drawing. I don’t have time to think about anything else. Why not try that at a webinar?

Visual notes on your iPad or paper

I have the luxury to be able to do this on my iPad, but it can be done just as well on a piece of paper. And – hooray – it worked! Not only did my attention stay focused, but I also had to force myself to make connections and really take in the material. Bonus: at the end I had an A4 sheet with an attractive summary for myself, which I also sent to the host of the event. She was very happy with it.

Making your own visual notes

In short, win-win-win! Would you like to give it a try? That can be quite overwhelming the first time. Below 9 tips to make it goas smoothly as possible.

1. Speed ​​is key. You can watch some webinars, but it is of course not the intention that you will spend hours extra on this. So challenge yourself to help draw in real time. That takes some getting used to at first, and may even be stressful, but you really get better at it. It might be useful to first practice with something that you can still rewatch, before you get all anxious about missing something;)

2.Prepare. Prepare your materials in advance, so you don’t have to grab anything during the stream.

3. Be minimalistic. Keep the number of materials limited, for example only a black brush pen and fineliner. You can always add colors afterwards, if necessary.

4. Optional: warm up. Find some pictures on the topic of the webinar or course. Try to give it your own twist in a few strokes.

5. Don’t hesitate. During an explanation of “ideas”, does a picture of a light bulb pop up in your head? Don’t waste time wondering if it’s original enough. Function over form: your drawing does not have to be the new Rembrandt. It’s about being recognizable.

6. Summarize. Try to listen to the common thread in the story, instead of every letter. Yes, that means sometimes you have to leave something out, and that’s scary. But it also means that you have more time for a drawing that conveys the story well.

7. Stay calm. Is it going too fast for a moment? Reset. Take a breath. Pick up the story where it is now, instead of trying to catch up on the last 5 minutes. Then you will only fall behind even further. If you have a pause button, use it: have a nice cup of tea and then continue. No pause button and still need all the information? Make written notes, and supplement with illustrations later (note: this will take extra long!).

8. Get to know your pace. By practicing often you know what a feasible pace is for you. Do you have room for some extra details? Or is it better to stay minimalistic? I myself experience major differences in a live interview or Q&A (more text, less illustrations) versus a webinar or master class with a clear red line (more extensive illustrations).

9. Be satisfied. Drawing quickly means making mistakes, making choices. You listened to a talk with extra attention, and that is more than enough to be proud of! You don’t have to redraw endlessly: you’ve completed this task!

Do you sometimes get easily distracted? And is this also a great solution for you? Or do you panic just at the thought? Let me know in the comments!

* The links in this article are affiliate links. That means that when you buy something via this link, I also receive a small contribution! Don’t worry, you pay 0.0 nothing nada niente extra.