By Abigail West

The left brain is commonly understood as the logical side, and the right brain as the creative, intuitive side. This is not accurate.

The correct way to look at the brain is that the left side is the verbal side. It is conceptual and anticipatory. The left brain will apply already known information to situations. The right side of the brain pays attention to shapes, colors and patterns.

Artist Leah Kohlenberg and Scott Pham and Jennifer LaFleur, from Reveal for the Center for Investigative Reporting, discussed how drawing can help journalists develop both sides of the brain while they work. Drawing is not an innate ability – it must be taught. If you don’t exercise the right side, you think you can’t draw. But do it anyway. Drawing clears the mind and helps people deal with complex challenges.

This is called brain flipping, and it allows people to see tasks in a new way and focus on the job at hand.

Pham spoke about tools journalists can use for organizing and prioritizing tasks. These include:

  • Pomodoro
  • Evernote
  • Todo.txt

Some additional tips for organizing and prioritizing:

  • Capture everything in your notes.
  • Clarify your notes into projects and to-dos.
  • Inbox and prioritize.
  • Turn off notifications (email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to focus.
  • Draw for a few minutes before you start your day.
  • Work backwards.

Drawing forces you to look at what’s in front of you. It makes you think visually and spatially. Concentration can calm you and stimulate brain activity.