Visual, verbal, logical, kinetic, auditory – what kind of learner are you? Being your best, most creative self is easier if you know how you personally process information and observations. And cultivating inspiration is way easier if you don’t work against your natural inclinations, but with them. Here’s how to identify your styles and see hacks for helping you max out your creative potential.
Take a Quiz to Find Your Learning Style
A good online quiz for recognizing your learning style can be found at Thought Co. They also have articles for optimizing your learning style. Which is yours? Once you figure it out, let’s talk about creativity hacks for your personal learning style.
How To Get Ideas by Learning Style
- Visual/Spatial – You learn/process best by seeing visuals, or drawing your ideas.
- Aural/Auditory – You learn/process by hearing, or listening to a recording, or speaking out loud your thoughts and ideas.
- Verbal/Linguistic – You learn/process by writing, and speaking your ideas and thoughts.
- Physical/Bodily/Kinesthetic – You learn/ process through movement and if you can pace, doodle, or use a motion aide while you think or learn, it will help you to process and retain information or ideas.
- Logical/Mathematical – You learn/process best if you can categorize your thoughts, or if you can create a thought framework with bullet points, grids, topics, subtopics, outlines, etc.
More Than Just One Learning Style?
You probably have more than one type of learning style. Maybe a dominant with a couple that are secondary influences. Often, we retrain ourselves, so that we can function (i.e. survive) in an area we struggle in.
Recently, I discovered “sketch notes”, a method of note taking that I practiced for years in my sketchbook, without knowing it was a “thing.” It’s a way of mixing up visual and verbal learning in a way that more closely mirrors the way I think. For instance, if you’re like me, it makes more sense for you to create visual representations of a product, and then write in the words that would describe aspects of the project. This would help as you start a project. You could create a list of supplies, and tools. But also sketch out what you think the finished project would look like. That helps visualize the steps and challenges ahead.
Doodling is NOT a Distraction
For those who doodle incessantly in a class, you might be surprised to learn that drawing while listening is now considered a valid processing tool for the visual, auditory, and kinetic learners. Personally, I panic if I don’t have a pencil and paper in hand whenever I’m in a situation where I’m expected to listen or participate in an organized planning dialogue. Sketchnotes can also be tweaked so they can be used live in a meeting or as you watch a presentation. In that situation, you may be listening for images that are being used to illustrate points, and you may write in the points either at the time, or later. There are some really fun examples of this on YouTube if you search.
Your Spreadsheets Have Spreadsheets
For those who identify as logical and/or mathematical learners, it’s been suggested you do best if you can structure your notes or ideas within a grid format, such as the Cornell Method for methodically sorting the facts or ideas as you hear them. Categories, thesis statements, and content boxes are your friends and can easily translate into the sketchbook format. If you feel you might have some of the logical learner in you, bullet journals or grids might really help you create a visual structure for your thoughts.
You Do Best with Active Learning
For the kinesthetic, taking notes in a mind map or brainstorming format helps, as they circle, arrow, highlight, underline, and basically keep their pencil moving as their mind processes. For the kinesthetic learner, exercising as you brainstorm is a huge tip. So go for a run, but take your recorder with!
Music Really Does Help Concentration
Maybe my favorite discovery while researching this post on maximizing your creativity, is around auditory learners. They are both more creative and more productive when listening to different types of music. My son’s been trying to tell me that for years. I didn’t believe him (insert awesome mom moment here). The caveat is that the sounds need to be repetitive with no lyrics to distract. Different types of music fit different types of activity. For instance, video game soundtracks are composed so that they keep the gamer mentally focused and yet soothed, so they enjoy their gameplay as much as possible. Again, my son is doing the “duh, mom” moment. For more info on this and for music and soundtrack recommendations, check out this article, here.
What It All Means for Your Creativity
Being creative is being able to access and free your mind to think divergently without tripping up, but it also means recording and collecting those inspirations, questions, and thoughts so that you can recall them later. When inspiration strikes for the auditory learning, to stop, pick up a pencil, and write a detailed descriptive list will only cause them to stall out their creative thoughts. For the visual learner, siting and listening to lectures is a complete bore, but hand them a piece of paper and they’re tracking again.
Why You Should Care
We’re all made a little differently, and recognizing your strengths will help you to create memory and processing hacks. These will not only shortcut your way to creativity and inspiration, but help you avoid pitfalls. I LOVE my sketchbooks. It is the number one tool I can recommend for maximizing your creativity and keeping and collecting inspiration. Using it in a way that supports your natural learning style will only increase the benefits of keeping one. For more motivation, check out my post, Inspiration Exists: How to Find it and Keep it.
I would LOVE to hear if you have started to keep a sketchbook of any kind since reading these posts. I hope these creativity hacks for your personal learning style have helped you. If you know your learning style and have discovered any hacks for making the most of your moments of inspiration, let me know!