Whiteboard is a fantastic tool to brainstorm, capture ideas, explain a complex topic or even plan your weekly tasks in a simple format. And sometimes even for capturing creative simple art. In fact, this visual tool can help you do just about any task at hand. Here are ways how people organising their entire lives using whiteboards.
Learning and explaining complex topics
Whiteboards and chalkboards have been used in schools for a long time. Learning math, teaching languages, chemistry, physics – any topic and lesson. But learning and explaining are not only happening inside a school. Friends are helping friends, a tutor supporting another person, parents helping kids to study.
While we were in Techstars accelerator with Deekit, I moved to London for 4 months. My 8-year-old daughter had to stay back in Estonia to go to school. Thanks to the ability to collaborate online using visuals, we were able to have equal learning experience together. Interactively.
When teaching a particular subject, mixing different forms like drawings, images, mind maps, charts and text provide the best ways to explain any complex topic.
When using online tools instead of physical ones, attaching other resources and adding links to external sources provide an extra layer to make the most of the learning experience.
Many teams around the world use the whiteboard as they provide the easiest canvas to do simple planning. Usually, you see post-it notes pinned to the whiteboard with an easy structure of a Scrum or Kanban board. When teams and complexity grow, advanced tools are needed. But for small agile teams simplicity of a whiteboard is more important.
These boards more often include three simple columns: To-Do, Doing, Done and tasks are written in few simple words on a post-it note which move along the columns as they progress. The beauty of a whiteboard here is that it’s really easy to customise it to adopt to your needs. If you need more statuses than the three, you just add another. When you need to pin other materials to a task – it’s not just easy to do, but also gives an immediate visual overview.
Such approach is not only useful for teams but also for getting your personal tasks organised too.
Additional to Scrum and Kanban boards, I’ve seen many people organising their personal tasks using the SWOT method, which gives a simple visual framework to prioritise your actions.
Planning and explaining software
Software development is a creative and complex process. Over time, we develop many parts in our products, dependencies grow and it’s always a challenge to keep yourself up with how things are evolving.
This is why software developers and operational teams use whiteboards. To sketch out architecture, brainstorm how to build a feature, plan through dependencies and create a task list of everything that needs to happen. Whiteboard simply gives a canvas where all ideas can come together using the simple boxes, arrows and text.
Planning how to test software
Software testing isn’t about simply using a product and magically finding bugs in it. Software testers put a lot of effort into planning their activity and figuring out all possible scenarios and use-cases to test. Whiteboard is the go-to place to map the journey as mindmaps or flowcharts as a base guideline during the testing process.
Online versions add also the ability to add screenshots and references to issues discovered, right next to the planned mindmap itself.
Designing with whiteboards
All designs start with capturing ideas. As first step designers seek for inspiration and collect the ideas together. A mood board and mindmap become very handy for this type of task. Which all is followed by dozens of idea sketches in the easiest format.
When planning a website UX or design, it’s easiest to step in front of a whiteboard or use the online version and map down together all the ideas. These simple sketches enable thinking through the most basic steps before starting to create the entire design fully.
Sketching together provides an amazing way to get feedback quickly. You don’t need to spend hours on creating full design only to get feedback to change most of it.
I’ve seen several amazing designers doing such sketching also closely with their customers. Which gives the customer chance to speak up already at the earliest phase, builds trust and improves on how communication flows.
Many things go into planning your business and visuals have been part of it for a long time. Most commonly we use whiteboards to capture ideas during meetings and explain particular topics.
But additionally, there are several visual tools in practice to help you on the journey. Some of which include Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, SWOT and many others. Instead of writing a 60-page business plan, it’s oftentimes easier to start with a simple mindmap answering all questions. Such mindmap can be the best guideline inside your business to keep all teams and people on the same page regards where you are going, what the priorities are and much more.
Whiteboard marketing content planning
Creating content is hard. Writing amazing blog posts and creating great tweets takes time, planning, research, and effort. Over time, I’ve started to gather my thoughts for blog posts visually. Here’s what I do:
- Drop all ideas about a subject on the whiteboard, no filtering.
- Go through all ideas, delete irrelevant ones and sort them into groups.
- Once all ideas are grouped, I organise them in order how I want to write about them and start adding context to each thought – what should I write in particular.
- Once I’m happy with the result, I start actually writing the first draft.
Sports and fitness planning
I see more and more sports teams and trainers using whiteboards to organize the workouts, track results and create actionable tasks to help people get better.
TripIt is an awesome tool to get all your travel literary in one place. But many trips take much more to plan: to-do list of things you need to prepare and get ready, in some cases you need to create a trip map ahead to plan how and where you need to get to, find places to visit and much more. What I love about whiteboards here is that I can drop all the details on it and without switching between all possible tools, everything is always there.
Gather inspiration onto mood boards
Creative tasks often start with collecting inspiration and materials about a particular topic – examples, colors, places, adding other references and resources.
Planning screenplay and capturing storyboards
Whiteboards are a great way to also plan a screenplay, movie or a novel. You can map together the storyline and screenplay, add characters with designs and visuals and easily create storyboards to illustrate.
Garden planning and home redesign
Anyone who has ever planned to redesign a room or home knows how hard it can be to plan. Online whiteboard is a great tool to help you on the journey as you can collect inspiration and add images of things you like, sketch out ideas on what you want to create in your home or garden and even add simple to-do list of all actions you need to make.
In some cases, it makes sense to even go a step further and bring a shopping list into the mix.
There are many things going on everyday life at construction. There are several tools and methods used for planning, many architecture maps that are still carried around on the paper format to collect feedback and map down actual progress. Several construction companies are switching over to online whiteboards now as these provide a simple way to drop architecture plans on the canvas and adding additional resources to it on the go.
Quite recently I had a long conversation about how people in healthcare are using whiteboards. Not only is it about creating tasks between teams, but it is widely used to map hospital layouts and map where patients are. In some scenarios online tools can provide the needed canvas to discuss specifics of a disease between doctors around the world.
How do you use whiteboards to organise your daily life? 😊