Though often viewed as a mindless activity and a waste of time, recent studies have cast a new light on the fine art of doodling.


Helps with Memory and Problem-Solving

Researchers believe doodling helps the brain focus by keeping the mind from wandering.

In a 2009 experiment conducted at the University of Plymouth, 40 people were given a simple set of instructions to take rsvp information over the phone from people going to a party. The group of 40 was divided in two. One group of 20 was told to doodle and the other 20 didn’t. The doodlers recalled 29% more information than did the non-doodlers.

A 2011 article in Science journal reported that when science students drew visualizations of course material instead of using words, they had a deeper understanding of the concepts and could effectively communicate them to others.



Famous Doodlers

Mark Twain, Michelangelo, Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton, Winston Churchill, Ralph Waldo Emerson and several U.S. presidents are but a few famous doodlers.

(From top to bottom below are doodles from Kurt Vonnegut, JFK, and Mark Twain).



Strategic Doodling

Doodling can and is being used in business–Facebook, Disney, Google, Zappos, and Turner Broadcasting are just a few of the companies who’ve recognized the value of “visual note taking”.

Outlining a business strategy in a doodle can be a more effective way of communicating that strategy to others. In addition, doodling can make meetings shorter and more efficient–a study from the Wharton School found meetings using doodling were 24% shorter than those not using it. In addition, doodling with co-workers can be particularly effective since addressing a problem with a shared visual helps a group more quickly come to a consensus and see the bigger picture.


Becoming a Successful Visual Thinker

Sunni Brown, Doodle Evangelist and author of The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently recommends listening for metaphors and similes that express abstract ideas in visual terms. “Look for cues in the narrative than can structure your doodles. Don’t worry about missing a key point, misspelling a word or messing up your sketch. There has to be a suspension of judgment. It’s like Pictionary, you just have to go. Forgive yourself and move on.”


Drawing Conclusions (Pardon the Pun)

Doodling taps into our innate propensity for visual learning, which results in:

  • Improved information recall
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Better mental focus

So the next time you want to convey an idea, get more out of a meeting or improve your memory, try visual note taking and let the ideas flow. You might even decide to join the Doodle Revolution.