How doodling sparks creativity and increases knowledge retention in individuals and teams.
Doodling isn’t child’s play, though history may argue otherwise.
Doodling has long been described as a foolish, meaningless activity; something one does to distract themselves from what they should be focused on. Often people think of doodles as nothing more than senseless scribbles, with little value or importance. If you’re caught doodling in class, you’re in trouble. If you’re doodling in a meeting, you’re criticized for not paying attention. At least, that’s how it used to be.
After hundreds of years being dubbed as a mindless waste of time, the benefits of doodling are starting to gain some traction.
Despite the fact that adult coloring books are hip and cool right now, doodling isn’t a new trend. According to Sunni Brown, author of “The Doodle Revolution,” a great deal of artistic, scientific, mathematical, medical and business breakthroughs can be attributed to doodling.
Did you know that Stanislaw Ulam developed the Ulam Spiral (an illustration and explanation of prime numbers, for all you non-math majors out there) during a mathematics lecture?
The benefits of doodling reach far and wide. Researchers have found that doodling improves focus and concentration, and allows people to see the big picture. It’s an outlet for creativity and a way for people to stay active in the present moment.
The Doodle Revolution
I’ve gotten some quizzical looks and judgmental stares while doodling during important meetings or brainstorms, which is how I stumbled upon Brown’s book in the first place.
In the book, Brown argues that doodling is a way for people to engage in deep information processing. “A doodler is connecting neurological pathways with previously disconnected pathways,” says Brown.
Brown breaks down how doodling contributes to one’s power (cognitive), performance (organizational) and pleasure (personal). Here’s a little taste of what she has to say:
Doodling has a dynamic cognitive impact on people. A staggering amount of people retain, recall and comprehend information better when they’re doodling. A study conducted back in 2009 found that participants doodling during a phone call were able to recall facts 29% better than those who did not. Through doodling, people are able to expand their minds and increase insights.
Doodling isn’t just for individuals. Leaders have gained tremendous insights into their business as the result of doodling. Teams and organizations can benefit greatly from incorporating visual language in meetings and brainstorms. In the book, Brown states, “… the act of visualization adds layers of relevance, functionality and communication to the conversation.” Doodling encourages group interaction, allows teams to visualize the bigger picture, increases problem solving efforts, and offers a collective shared memory and experience.
I double dog dare you to give a couple examples of what you were able to 100% achieve while multitasking. Only 2% of people can multitask successfully, yet most of us think it’s the best way to get work done. Our brains aren’t wired to process multiple things at once. Doodling helps individuals escape from multitasking and the “my problem is now your emergency” mindset of today’s workforce. Individuals who set aside time to visualize and doodle for personal gains are often more relaxed, more focused and more open to possibilities. The benefits of doodling for pleasure begin to trickle into their professional lives, allowing them to avoid multitasking and focus on the task at hand.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on the power of the doodle. If you’re interested in more, get your hands on the copy of “The Doodle Revolution.” The book is packed full of research and anecdotes on the impact of doodling. And, throughout the book you have the opportunity to pick up your pen and embrace doodling yourself through interactive prompts and assessments.