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Why You Should Doodle at Work

Topics: Data & Research
Doodling at work
Image Credit: Pexels /

Whether you’re bored at a meeting or just daydreaming at your desk, doodling with a pen and paper can be just the creative release your brain needs during a hectic workday. Not only that, studies show that doodling can actually help you remember valuable information.

Doodling is as old as time itself; Heck, even cavemen doodled. When you doodle, you’re not taking notes. Instead, you could be making geometric shapes, drawing images that represent a conversation you’re listening to, or simply expressing emotions.

Doodling is Simple

We’ve all taken pen to paper during a class or meeting and drawn something in the margins. You don’t have to be “artistic” to doodle, and that’s pretty freeing. Much like the adult coloring book trend, doodling allows anyone to create something on paper that is personal and often only makes sense to the doodler themselves. That ultimately makes it a stress-free task, with no “right” answer; Quite the relief when the rest of the world is so pressure-filled.

It Can Be Strategic

Some people use doodles to visually connect difficult concepts. You could doodle while in a difficult class to better solidify the ideas you’re hearing from the professor. Or you could use doodling to better explain concepts to a group of professionals.

Artist Brandy Agerbeck speaks around the world about the value of doodling in the boardroom. She works as a graphic facilitator, “the one person in the room mapping out the conversations and presentations for a wide variety of clients.” She can “transform your discussion into a tangible drawing that frees your best mind to focus, make more connections, generate new ideas and understand their work in new ways.”

Drawing is for The Boss, Too

Doodler and author Sunni Brown noted on The Today Show that in her study of the art of doodling, she’s found that every American president has doodled on White House letterhead. Einstein doodled alongside complicated equations, and plenty of writers have created visualizations alongside their words, from Sylvia Plath to Mark Twain.

Doodling is Simply Good for Learning

According to a 2011 study published in The Lancet, doodling helps the “brain remain active by engaging its default networks—regions that maintain a baseline of activity in the cerebral cortex when outside stimuli are absent.” People who were encouraged to doodle while listening to a list of names were able to remember 29 percent more of the information on a surprise quiz later, according to a 2009 study in Applied Cognitive Psychology.

It would seem that doodling keeps the mental engine humming. “Doodling keeps you from falling asleep, or simply staring blankly when your brain has already turned off,” writes Dr. Srini Pillay in the Harvard Health Blog. “The permission to ‘free-draw’ keeps your brain online just a little while longer.”

What doodling doesn’t seem to help is your visual memory. So if you’re given the job of remembering a bunch of pictures, don’t doodle in order to try and lock them into your memory. Seems while we can listen and doodle at the same time, we can’t look and doodle all at once.

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