The Power of Doodling: How Doodles Can Lead to Great Ideas

Dec 07, 2010

Doodling is a national pastime in classrooms and offices throughout the nation. Who hasn't put pen to paper during lectures or meetings to pass the time? More than simply a way to occupy yourself, doodling can actually enhance your capabilities at school or on the job. Here's how.

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power of doodling

Doodling and Memory

Most people doodle at one time or another - some of us even picked up the habit as children in school. Whether it was cats, houses, skateboards, trees, team logos or the names of your favorite bands, you probably remember the covers and margins of notebooks filled with pictures and words from your subconscious. But did you know that these doodles may have been helping you to learn?

A study in Applied Cognitive Psychology suggests that doodling can allow us to better remember information. Conducted at the University of Plymouth in the U.K., the research showed that subjects who filled in shapes while listening to a phone message had memory recall 29 percent better than that of non-doodling peers. One reason for this may be that doodling helps to minimize daydreaming.

power of doodling

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A Productive Habit

The power of doodling, though, may extend far beyond simply remembering facts. Many also believe the activity to be an empowering intellectual force. While someone in the midst of doodling may appear distracted or unfocused, it's thought that being thoroughly engaged in this way can give your brain the opportunity to engage with and process complicated ideas. Doodlers from history include George Washington, Leonardo da Vinci and countless others.

Many people in the creative arts have also looked to doodling to help unlock the artistry that resides within them. Renowned author Lynda Berry - who incorporates cartooning, memoir and instruction into her works - cites doodling as a powerful creative force. Her latest book, Picture This, features drawings, paintings, collages, meditations and stories. The book shows how doodling can help you to explore your interior life and express yourself in creative ways.

power of doodling

Doodling for the Soul

It can be empowering to learn that doodling can help us to be more creative and efficient in school and at work. But doodling's true power may lie in its psychological effect. According to many experts, this seemingly 'mindless' activity can help us to deal with stress and redirect our thoughts away from reoccurring negative thought patterns.

How can doodling serve as art therapy? Experts in psychology and human development suggest that doodling allows us to unconsciously render in pictures anxieties that we might have difficulty putting into words. This form of simple expression can help us process emotions, leaving us feeling better about our lives and who we are. Many also simply find the act of doodling to be calming.

Now that you know the potential benefits of doodling, you can defend yourself when someone suggests that you're not paying attention. Just let professors or colleagues know that you're unleashing the power of your inner doodler!

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