This week I talk about navigating the emotions of a big plan change, announce the release of an exciting project, and share my discovery of the power of virtual whiteboarding.
These weekly updates share life with OCD as part of my Mental Work Health project to reduce stigma around mental health, especially at work.
One of the most difficult parts of my week was a major surprise. As I have mentioned before, plan changes are exceptionally difficult for me to handle. My OCD flares up and I feel a great deal of distress.
With this surprise, I felt strong emotions in addition to the distress that is my constant change companion. I’m not going to share details of the situation, but it was a real challenge for me.
One of the best things that I did was to take some time to identify and process my emotions. The images above show some of my emotional state over the past few days. Having some skills to sit with my feelings allowed me to move forward in positive and productive ways.
The images that I shared above of my emotional processing are from a new tool that I have finalized this week. I am thrilled about this! This is what I was teasing a couple weeks ago when I mentioned being excited to share what I had been iterating on.
I call it the Mindful Sketch Template.
This came out of ideas I shared a few months ago in the Meditative Sketchnoting workshop with Mike Rohde. I had talked about how to use sketchnotes as a mindful practice to not just be in the present moment with content from a speaker, but rather with your own mental and emotional state.
The past few weeks, I have been iterating on the template and trying different layouts and different prompts. The current version has been extremely useful for me in a couple different ways.
I have been starting my day off with a mindful sketch exercise, and that practice has been wonderful. It has helped me check in and be realistic with where I am at, and has opened my eyes to needs I had but wasn’t fulfilling.
I have also used the template as a kind of emotional first-aid. When something big comes up, and I start to feel overwhelmed, I have tried to sit down and do a mindful sketch exercise. That has helped me process the large emotions I am feeling, and especially to get a balanced view of my situation.
Rarely am I feeling only the most prominent emotion that I notice in my body. Taking the time to explore further has helped me be aware of the complex layers that exist.
I am thrilled to have the template packaged up in a consumable format, complete with instructions and examples. If this is something you would like to try, or think could help you, please consider supporting me and purchasing the template.
This week at my new company Factor, we have had a number of strategy planning sessions. Since we are a distributed team, the meetings were all virtual. But we wanted to retain some of the informal collaborative nature of whiteboarding the meeting. So we tried something new out. I shared my iPad screen, and essentially sketchnoted the meeting as we went along.
It worked great!
Having a visual record of the things we were discussing made it so much easier to all get on the same page and make sure that we were capturing what we all thought. It was quicker to find areas where we disagreed and could go deeper. Referring back to previous portions of the discussion was simple and effective.
I just used the Apple Notes app, which has gotten really powerful. The annotation tools are perfect for simple sketchnoting like that. And best of all, it provides infinite scrolling. So the note could just keep growing as we continued to talk.
At the end of the meeting, we could save the image and have a great record of what we discussed and the direction we went.
This was an exhausting and exhilarating process. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been doing this in nearly every virtual meeting before now. It was so natural and effective. Definitely a high point of the week.
It is always exciting to ship something, and I feel like that’s where I’m at with the Mindful Sketch Template. I have been working on it for a few months, and it feels great to finally share it with the world. I hope that it can help other people as much as it has helped me.
Whether you give the template a try or not, I encourage you to find a regular mindfulness practice. The benefits of getting in touch with yourself regularly are immense. I have noticed much greater resilience in myself. When I know that I have a good tool to process big and difficult emotions, they aren’t so scary.
We are probably all facing disruptions and unexpected changes to our plans right now. May we be kind to ourselves and share that kindness with those around us.