I was in a meeting with a new client recently, and he said, "You don't need to take notes on this."
I laughed. I absolutely need to take notes on this, no matter what "this" is. Taking notes is how I think -- it's the old reporter in me. I observe, I listen, I take notes. If I don't have a pen in my hand or a keyboard at my fingertips, my thought process is impaired.*
Educator, author and creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson tells an interesting "How do you think?" story in his "Do schools kill creativity?" presentation. Robinson shares the tale of Gillian Lynne, the choreographer of "Cats" and other theatrical hits. When she was a child, teachers thought Lynne's constant fidgeting was a sign of illness. A wise doctor determined that she wasn't sick. She was a dancer. Gillian Lynne thinks with movement.
Where and how do you think best? Dancing? Driving? In the shower? Or, do you generate your finest strategic and creative thoughts sitting in a chilly cubicle, unavoidably overhearing someone else's teleconference?
Determine what prompts your best thinking, and embrace it. If you need a pen, grab a pen. If you need to move, move. But while you're doodling and moving, remember: Not everyone thinks the way you think. And I don't just think that. I know it.
*I was once presenting a media training session for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and I dropped my magical pen. I immediately stopped thinking. And talking. Truly. I had no idea what to say next. Fortunately, Jody Summers was presenting with me. She saved the day by instantly handing me her pen, while at the same time diving under the table to pick up mine. Jody understands how I think. And that kind of thoughtful approach makes a world of difference.