Visual note-taking tools represent the next generation of digital note-taking. They utilize a canvas interface that enables you to capture, view and arrange multiple notes and media in ways that make the most sense to you.
Where text-based note-taking tools start to feel one-dimensional and linear after a while, visual note-taking tools give users a feeling of freedom. They’re also more likely to spark serendipitous connections, making them a favorite of creatives of all stripes. How are people using visual note-taking tools? Let’s take a closer look:
Content of any kind – a blog post, a video, infographic or ebook – is a combination of ideas and elements, arranged to tell a story, teach a process or inspire a feeling.
To create a cohesive piece of content, the writer needs to organize his or her thoughts. These tools provide a flexible canvas where you can do so, quickly and easily.
Arranging the “atoms” of your content visually makes it easy to see what’s missing, what needs to be clarified and what’s extraneous and can be removed.
Conducting research is often a messy process. You gather bits and pieces of information, knowledge and ideas from numerous sources and try to analyze it all in one place. For many people, that’s a Word or Google document. But that quickly becomes unworkable as the number of pages and bits of information expands.
The open canvas of a visual note-taking tool is perfect for capturing the flotsam and jetsam of research. They make it easy to collect a myriad of information without having to worry about how to organize it. You can move it into logical groupings later.
3. Swipe file
Creative people, such as writers, copywriters and designers, find great value in creating a swipe file to hold the bits and pieces of ideas that inspire them.
The idea is to build a collection of inspiring objects you think may be useful or intriguing in some way. When you need inspiration, you can use your swipe file as a source of relevant stimuli.
Visual note-taking tools make it possible to create multiple swipe files around different topics. They can also contain a variety of media, organized in collections that are most useful to you.
4. Second brain
A “second brain” is an externalized, digital collection of ideas, notes, knowledge and insights—a personal knowledge base.
Visual thinking tools are especially valuable in this role because they enable serendipity more easily than traditional text-based note-taking tools do. Their flexible canvas makes it easier to view ideas side-by-side and make connections between them – a key aspect of nurturing your thoughts.
5. Idea repository
Smart people are obsessive about capturing their ideas, any time, anywhere. They know that ideas are fleeting, mysterious creatures. They tend to disappear as quickly as they appear.
So they maintain a database of ideas that they can use to capture their latest insights and inspirations in tangible form.
An idea repository is a growing collection of personal ideas. Visual note-taking tools make it easy to capture whatever inspires you, and then arrange and rearrange it as needed.
Whether you’re doing business planning, creating a marketing plan or mapping out your firm’s strategy, visual note-taking tools provide a flexible canvas on which you can capture, nurture and organize your thinking and any even show your thinking process.
7. Moodboard/creative concepting
Professional creatives know that there are very few new-to-the-world ideas. Most new ideas are inspired by what has come before. That’s why they gather inspiring visuals into a display called a moodboard. Often, the keywords and associations contained in the images arrayed in front of them will spur new ideas.
Visual note-taking tools are perfect for creating moodboards. Because they employ an unlimited visual canvas and support images, videos and text-based notes, these tools make it easy to collect and organize a variety of elements that may be relevant to the creative project you’re working on.
This article is excerpted from The Ultimate Guide to Visual Note-Taking Tools eGuide.