Multitasking doesn’t work, here’s what does – sketchnotes

Reflecting on my past, I once believed multitasking was the key to productivity and efficiency. It took a burnout to realise the harmful effects of multitasking on my mental health. Asana’s enlightening article delves into the neuroscience behind multitasking myths, revealing how it drains our mental resources and hinders efficiency. Embracing single-tasking has been a game changer for me. By focusing on one task at a time I’ve unlocked higher productivity and improved concentration.

Dive into the Asana article for six actionable tips on mastering the “art of single-tasking”, empowering you to stay focused and achieving your daily goals. Plus, check out my attached sketchnotes capturing the essence of the article.

Multitasking doesn’t work, here’s what does - sketchnotes

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The Return of the Sketchnote Army Traveling Book

In the quaint village of Merate, just a stone’s throw from Milan, Italy, the year 2016 witnessed the inception of an unusual tale. Mauro Toselli, with a craftsman’s touch, conjured a rugged, handcrafted notebook – 112 pages of uncharted potential, encased in a shield of his own making. This was no ordinary notebook, it was destined for a global rendez-vous, passing through the hands and markers of the sketchnoting community.

If you don’t want to read what follows but just discover the stages of the book’s extraordinary journey then see the visualisation I made of it.

Mauro unveiled his project in a blog post, imparting instructions to those future recipients who would guide the Sketchnoting Army Traveling Book through its global pilgrimage. Mauro poured his heart into this project, unleashing it into the world with a mission to return home by 2018. With emotions and a longing to release his creation into the unknown, Mauro sent it across 12.450 kilometers to Pastor Gary Lau on Hawaii Island. Perhaps a destination nearer than the ends of the world would have made the parting more arduous.

Nevertheless, from that day forth, the notebook assumed an existence shaped by the destinations, moods, and decisions of the sketchnoters yet to encounter its pages. Its journey unfolded, chronicled by sketchnoters proudly displaying their contributions with the #SABookjourney hashtag on the ever-scrolling tapestry of social media.

Yet, as the days unfolded, Mauro’s initial script began to blur. The one-week tenure prescribed for each sketchnoter’s custody stretched, and the once-vivid digital traces on social platforms dimmed. The notebook, akin the mythical Loch Ness denizen or a phoenix reborn from the ashes, would appear and vanish from the tapestry of time, adorned with new sketchnotes.

Two years waltzed by, and the notebook, a wayfarer with a mind of its own, resisted the call to return to Milan. It traversed short distances and quantum-leapts, like the 16.600-kilometer leap from Claire in the Netherlands to James in Australia in July 2017.

As time wore on, the apparitions of the notebook grew rarer, and, on occasions, it seemed lost. Then came the unforeseen twist – the advent of the Covid pandemic in 2020. Stranded in France during the lockdown, the notebook, alongside sketchnoters, confronted the indiscriminate virus. Yet, some, bound by an unyielding resolve, launched appeals across social networks, seeking tidings of the elusive book. Amid whispers of the notebook’s demise, a few tenacious seekers tracked it down, compelling it back on its journey. But the world had changed, and the notebook navigated a less conspicuous route, eluding the notice of the old guard.

Emerging from the labyrinth of the Internet, the notebook resurfaced in 2022 in the possession of my comrade Valentine in the realm of Belgium. In Belgium, where I reside. From that moment forth, my gaze remained steadfast upon it until, at last, it rested within the cradle of my own hands.

The prologue to the notebook’s homeward journey had commenced, unbeknownst to Mauro, its father. Before orchestrating its clandestine return, some sacred duties still beckoned. In the company of my confidants organisers of the International Sketchnote Camp of 2021, we bestowed our collective sketchnotes upon its pages. And, in due course, I, too, inscribed my own sketchnotes upon it.

For its final sojourn to encounter new sketchnoters, the tome accompanied me to Leiden in the Netherlands for the International Sketchnote Camp 2023. The elder members of our sketchnote community found themselves stirred at the revelation of the notebook’s presence at the camp, and for some, it marked a reunion after the passage of many a year.

The SATravelbook at ISC23NL

As for the fledgling members, their enthusiasm knew no bounds upon encountering this roving tome, bearing the signatures of numerous sketchnoters. Mike Rohde radiated joy as he cradled the notebook once more, a book he had adorned with his signature six years prior in the confines of his abode in Wisconsin, US.

The SATravelbook at ISC23NL

In hushed tones, I confided in Mike, unveiling my covert plan to reunite the notebook with Mauro in the coming weeks. A clandestine pact to keep silent, letting the illusion persist that the notebook had rekindled its worldwide trip after its Leiden escapade.

Amidst the camaraderie, on a sunlit Sunday in October 2023, after a day exploring Lake Como, I surprised Mauro with a package from my bag, marking the poignant end to the notebook’s odyssey. See what he said about this moment on his blog.

This was the Return of the Sketchnote Army Traveling Book.

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Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

As member of the JRC and as visual thinker, I was invited to capture visually the main insights of the JRC senior management seminar. During two days, I listened to a few hundred managers taking stock after one year of the launch of an innovative way of working in transversal modes in our organisation, the so-called JRC portfolios. The program was a fair balance between keynotes, informative presentations, exchanges, and conversations in world café mode. My challenge was to create the graphic recording of all this in order to provide a visual but also emotional memory that would be useful to the participants and those who were not present.

Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

On the substance

Overall, the results after one year are positive. There is a deeper understanding among the managers of the benefits of collaborating and working together on cross-cutting themes to “do even better science to support EU policies”. There are of course issues to resolve, while navigating a complex organisation and world, but by working together, everyone agreed that we would be able to overcome it all.

Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

How I worked

Aware that I would not have been able to capture the essence of extremely technical, dense and tense conversations over two days, I put together a small team of volunteers to help me. They were instructed to write down points and insights that were important to them on post-its (when they wanted and if they could) and bring them to me. This is how dozens of post-its arrived at me at the end of each intervention. Thanks to them I was able to refine my live visual notes by confirming or correcting my own notes, or by covering what I had missed.

Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

Personal take-aways

The intensity of the program spread over three days, and the exhausting trips to and from the hotel which was very far away, should not have impacted my concentration and my ability to listen. So I relied on a few small moments of meditation during the days, whether it’s a walk outside the conference center or stacking stones in balance inside. This is really what allowed me to keep my concentration and manage my mental fatigue.

Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

I was moved when some of the colleagues who helped me with the harvesting said at the end that they had listened to the speeches with much deeper attention than usual. They experienced the basics of harvesting, this technique in the art of hosting which first consists of listening at different levels. Without them I would not have been able to create such rich and deep visual notes. Harvesting important events can only be done correctly with and as a team.

I want to express them my gratitude and to the other colleagues with whom I had the privilege of working closely, for their support, their help, their kindness, for the coffees brought, their smiles, for their comforting looks, for who they are. Beautiful people.

Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

This blog post is available on Linkedin as well

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StartSketch, the very first Sketchnoting course in the European Commission

The importance of harnessing the power and benefits of visual thinking has never been more evident. It’s a valuable skill for enhancing our listening abilities, concentration, memory retention, and visually reimagining information processing by summarising and filtering it. As a colleague told me recently, “you do knowledge synthesis in its most practical form!“. Moreover, visual thinking is a critical tool for gaining clarity in the face of complexity, helping us tackle intricate subjects.

It had been over a decade since Catherine Focant and I rekindled our discussion on introducing visual thinking and sketchnoting within the European institutions. In October 2023, we achieved a significant milestone by delivering the first-ever internally offered course on sketchnoting and visual thinking at the European Commission. The initial 20 spots filled up rapidly, and we were pleasantly surprised to find the waiting list for future sessions grow daily, eventually reaching over 350 eager colleagues.


For the enthusiastic participants, it was a transformative journey. Many of them began with the misconception that “I cannot draw“, but they left the course with newfound confidence, now able to create simple visuals combined with lettering. They also discovered that drawing skills are closely linked to active and deep listening.

Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled

The overwhelmingly positive feedback and their commitment to practicing visual thinking were the most cherished gifts for us. Starting tomorrow, we invite them to join a newly established community of practice on Sketchnoting within the European institutions, and we encourage them to explore the global community of practitioners worldwide. If our motto is “Draw and share,” I genuinely believe that I received far more from them than what I imparted during the course.


This blog post is available on Linkedin as well.

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Why is it so difficult to deliver feedback?

I read an article about the importance of giving feedback and the difficulty of giving feedback. I couldn’t stop myself from drawing the 4 rules of thumb:

  1. Feedback says more about the giver than the receiver
  2. Feedback is a gift
  3. Feedback is only useful (and used) when it is asked for
  4. Once feedback is asked for, it is often no longer needed
Why is it so difficult to deliver feedback? A sketchnote

The original article is worth reading

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How can meditation help decision makers?

I had the immense privilege of listening to two prestigious experts in their field, with a common research object and practice, meditation. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche who is a Tibetan Buddhist master and meditation teacher, and Dr Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry who is well known for his research on the brain and meditation, and is a friend of the Dalai Lama.

They talked us about meditation, how it can help decision makers. The conference was a pleasant dance between teachings about meditation, small meditation exercises, and scientific facts that confirm the importance of the meditation practice for more awareness for better decision-making. My visual notes:

Sketchnotes of “how meditation can help decision makers”
Conference “how meditation can help decision makers”
Conference “how meditation can help decision makers”

Big thank you to my colleagues Carles Blas Chloé Dengis who invited these two persons and organised the conference so well.

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