In the age of everything digital, I offer you the most useful tool in your arsenal, regardless of what level of digital knowhow you have. That’s right, this tool can be used by anyone, of any age, and of any skill set. It’s a little thing called the pencil.

Now, I know I’m not breaking new ground here. The pencil (or something that resembles a pencil) has been around since the mid 1500’s, and that’s not including the fact that we once drew with our fingers on cave walls. This is “duh” advice. My message is simple: You can greatly improve your day-to-day workflow by putting the pencil to paper and sketching. Here’s why:

Quickly get ideas out of your head.

When you sketch, you’re able to get all kinds of ideas out of that creative little noggin. Your brain is a magnificent computer. As you sketch, not only are you consciously filtering results, but your subconscious is also playing an active role. That logo you came up with after 50 previous tries? Thank your subconscious for that gem. Bonus: you’re able to get the really bad ideas out of the way to uncover the really good ones.

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Simplest form of communication.

Sketching offers the chance to communicate to another human being the idea you had in your head, without any words. Humans used pictures before alphabets were created (think hieroglyphs). 

Anyone can do it.

And here’s the beautiful thing: because sketching is often a fast process, you really don’t need to be “a good drawer.” If you can hold a pencil, you can easily communicate your idea to another person. And the best part, the more you do it, the better you’ll get. So there you have it, folks. Go forth, sketch, and have fun. You’ll be better because of it.

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Further reading:

Again, I know I’m not hashing out any new ground here. These guys have said it better than I could hope to.

Sketching: the Visual Thinking Power Tool by Mike Rohde

Smashing Magazine: 50 Tutorials on Sketching 

How sketching is important to User Experience