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Doodling on the Job: The Benefits of Doodling


I had my note-taking journals confiscated by almost all my teachers in high school. (All right, I know what you’re thinking… No! I wasn’t in the habit of writing secret letters to my love interests during class). However, every time my teacher walked past my desk, she would catch me in the act of drawing cartoons and illustrations in my journal.

To her, my doodling was a desperate attempt to escape from the lecture. But to me, I thought of my drawings as quite the opposite. Doodling was at the very core of my learning experience and I believe it helped me achieve many of my academic successes. Now that I'm in the working world, I'm fascinated by doodling's application to the workplace. Some key findings that I discovered to (selfishly?) support my habit: 

Doodling Improves Focus

                                        "Focus, focus, focus!!!"

                                        "Focus, focus, focus!!!"

Iconic graphic designer, Milton Glaser said, “When you draw an object, the mind becomes deeply, intensely attentive." Sometimes our minds are in a state of frenzy as a result of different thoughts, anxieties and responsibilities competing against each other. Doodling, arranges all those fragmented thoughts and ideas piece by piece until we can unravel the bigger, better defined picture. This process is soothing for the doodler allowing him or her to be more present in the activity he or she was performing.

Doodling Improves Memory

                                                                "Trust me, I know STUFF."

                                                                "Trust me, I know STUFF."

In addition, the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology mentions that doodlers find it easier to recall dull information than non-doodlers. Doodling can turn the most boring, deeply theoretical and monotonous meetings into all-expense-paid trips to Imagination Nation enabling you to store otherwise volatile information in long term memory.

According to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience, we remember 90% of what we design, model or perform. So next time you’re in that crucial hour-long presentation, might not be a bad idea to pull out the colored markers.

Doodling Spurs Spontaneous Ideas

                                                                        "Ooh! Pretty lights!"

                                                                        "Ooh! Pretty lights!"

More and more businesses are beginning to unlock the hidden potential of doodling. Companies like Facebook, Citrax Software and Zappos are encouraging their employees and engineers to leverage doodling in their design processes as it helps to generate more ideas. In an article in the The Wall Street Journal, Vice President of Product Design at Citrix Software says it helps the employees "let loose and sketch ideas." Philosophy Professor at the City University of New York, Jesse Prinz, adds that the pleasure derived from doodling opens us up to more "exploratory avenues of thought." Take your brainstorming meeting to the next level by featuring some free-flowing and innovative doodling! 

Doodling Helps Communicate Where Words Can’t

                                                              "Sorry dude! Still don't get it."

                                                              "Sorry dude! Still don't get it."

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re trying to explain something to someone and although you can picture it quite vividly in your mind, somehow speech can’t paint the picture? Well, paint the picture! Principal Test Manager at Microsoft Corp encourages doodling within his team and speaks on how it  "helps get everyone on the same page and can convey the emotion and experience of the (doodler)". However cliché it may sound, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I know your next question is, “I’ve got no artistic ability whatsoever!! Can I still make awesome doodles?” Author of The Doodle Revolution, Sunni Brown said, “I give no points for the aesthetic quality of a doodle”. Well, turns out the benefits of Doodling are not at all rooted in the quality of the Doodle but more so in the experience of Doodling. So it doesn’t matter whether your portfolio is next in line for exhibition at the MET or your smiley faces look like bedazzled pancakes, it’s the thought that counts! (Literally!)

All pictures are original works of the author of this blogpost.

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